By Ryan Moulds
Monitor Sports Writer
POLLOK–With his team trailing by three runs in the final inning to the number one team in the state, Malakoff softball coach Matt Wittram had one message for his team: “Don’t ever quit.” His Lady Tigers listened to his message and they delivered, scoring five runs in the top of the seventh inning to stun the top ranked Woodville Lady Eagles 6-4 and send his team to the Regional Finals May 20 at Central High School in Pollok.
“It’s been a great ride this season and these girls just keep fighting no matter what,” Wittram said. “We had a couple errors that let them back in the game but other than that we only gave up one hit all night. The kids battled as hard as they could to get this victory. I told them to keep competing and to not quit and they never did. I’m so proud of this team.”
“This is the craziest game I’ve ever been a part of,” added senior Hazel Puempel. “We knew coming in that we could compete with this team and we played our best even when things looked like they weren’t going our way.”
Woodville came into the game ranked number one in the state in class 3A softball. The Lady Eagles had a 36-2 record. Malakoff came in ranked 10th in the state with a 26-5-1 record. Both teams had 12-0 district records.
The game was originally meant to be a three game playoff series but bad weather changed things around and made it a one game playoff.
UMass signee Candance Dennis started on the mound for Malakoff while Shelby Mixon started for Woodville.
Dennis went up to bat first for Malakoff and was hit by a pitch. She then stole second base to get into scoring position. Chyann Jarrett then bunted to bring in Dennis for a 1-0 Malakoff lead. Jarrett was safe at first base. Nixon recovered from her shaky start by striking out two straight Malakoff batters. A ground out ended the top of the first.
Woodville was unable to respond in the bottom of the first and went down in order, in part by great pitching from Dennis. Both teams went down in order in the second inning and no runs were scored.
Cheyenne Ramsey led off the third inning with a single to get on base for Malakoff but three outs in a row ended the inning for the Lady Tigers.
Woodville finally got some offense going in the bottom of the third, but still failed to score a run. Mika Maxwell got on base on a four pitch walk to lead off the inning. Dennis struck out the next batter but then a fielding error put runners on first and second. Woodville loaded the bases but Dennis was able to pitch her way out of the jam and get out of the inning without giving up a run. The score remained 1-0 heading in the fourth inning.
Malakoff had two quick outs to start the fourth inning. Chaney Tart hit a double that missed going over the wall by inches to get on base but Nixon struck out the next batter to end the frame. Woodville went down in order in the bottom of the fourth.
Malakoff went down in order in the top of the fifth inning. The Lady Tigers had a hard time working around Nixon’s pitching.
The first two batters for Woodville didn’t get on base but the Lady Eagles went on a two out rally to take their first lead of the game. Dennis walked Chloe Weeks to put her on first base and Haylie Tullos got on base due to an error to put runners on first and second. An error on Malakoff loaded the bases and freshman Kaitlyn Odom stepped up and made the play of the game for Woodville, getting their first and only hit of the game to drive in Weeks, Tullos and Maxwell. The hit gave Woodville a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the sixth inning, Malakoff went down in order. In the bottom of the frame, Dennis walked the first batter, Bailey Stewart and Faith Sirmons reached on an error to put runners on first and second. Woodville scored an insurance run on a wild pitch to make it 4-1 going into the top of the seventh.
In the seventh inning, the odds were stacked against Malakoff. They needed three runs against one of the toughest defenses in the state to keep their playoff run alive.
Tart started the rally with her second double of the game with one out. Cheyenne Robertson singled to knock Tart in and cut the lead down to 4-2. Jewell Jones hit a single to move Robertson over to second base. Woodville recorded their second out against Hannah Terzis.
After the second out, things started to get interesting. Woodville made a questionable decision to intentionally walk Dennis. Walking her loaded the bases and, in theory, would make it easier for Woodville to record the final out of the game since all runners would now be forced to advance one base.
The decision backfired when Jarrett came up next to bat. With two outs and working against a full count, she made the play of the season for Malakoff. She hit a single right up the middle that was bobbled by the center fielder. The bobble cost Woodville dearly as Robertson, Jones, and
Dennis all came in to score. Jarrett advanced to second base on the throw home. Had the ball been fielded cleanly, Woodville might have been able to hold Malakoff to one or two runs instead of three. The three runs put the Lady Tigers back in front 5-4.
Abby Terzis came up to bat next and knocked in Jarrett to make the score 6-4. Ramsey struck out to end the inning.
Woodville needed two runs to keep their historic season alive. Dennis struck out the first two batters before walking the third to put a man on first. The final out of the game was recorded on a pop up that was fielded by the first baseman to send the Malakoff players and fans into a frenzy on the field.
“We did our best to keep a positive state of mind even when we were down,” Dennis said. “We struggled last year with keeping a positive attitude and I think that attitude is the reason we won tonight. We already made school history in the last round so I guess we double made history tonight. No other team is going to do this for a while.” Dennis had eight strikeouts in the game.
“I was scared going up to bat in the seventh inning,” Jarrett said. “I was so afraid that I was going to let the whole team down but I put it behind me because I knew that the team needed me to come through for them. When the ball came off my bat I knew that we had won the game because I knew that Candance was fast enough to score from first and I knew that we were going to get those final three outs.”
Malakoff improves to 27-5-1 with the victory. The Lady Tigers will take on West in the Regional Finals at Prosper High School. It will be a three game series. Game one will take place 7 p.m. Friday, May 27. Game two will be 4 p.m. Saturday, May 28. If needed, game three will take place 30 minutes after game four.
West is coached by Guyla Smith, who earlier this season became the winningest coach in Texas high school softball history.
The loss ends Woodville’s season at 36-3.
Posted by : May 25, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
Posted by : May 25, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
Monitor Sports Writer
KEMP–Kemp senior running back Braxton Watters signed to play college football at Austin College May 19.
Watters moved to Kemp with his family from Oklahoma two years ago and he played on the varsity football team for two years. His father, Todd, is the Yellowjackets offensive coordinator and his younger brother, Dreyson, is the starting quarterback.
“I’m hoping to come in and get as much playing time as possible my first year,” Watters said. “Hopefully I can have the chance to start. When I took my visit I really enjoyed the coaching staff, my future teammates, the campus and speaking with people in my degree field. It felt like a great choice.”
Watters plans to major in education and become a high school football coach and history teacher.
Austin College has a rich football history. It has had a team since 1896, making it one of the oldest teams in the south. They have won eight conference championships and one national championship. They have also hosted over 130 All American players.
The team is coached by Loren Dawson and finished with a 5-5 record last season. They play at the Division III level in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference but they will move to the Southern Athletic Association in 2017.
Watters had injuries that caused him to miss time of each of his two seasons at Kemp. Despite not always being on he field, he still helped lead and motivate the Yellowjackets especially this season when Kemp made the playoffs. “We were a lot tougher and a lot more disciplined this season,” Watters said. “We put in lots of work in the weight room and spent lots of time getting ready mentally and it really made a difference for us.”
“It was great to have a player like Braxton with us these last two years,” Kemp athletic director and football coach Brandon Hankins said. “He came in his junior year and did a great job on the field and in the classroom. He was a great leader and understood what we were trying to do. He brought toughness to the team and worked every day to get better.”
“Coach Hankins has taught me a lot about toughness and has done a lot for me since I’ve been here,” Watters said. “He never treated me as an outsider or like a move in. He treated me like I had been here from the start and like I was one of his own and really made a big impact on me.”
“I really just want to thank the community of Kemp and everybody who is involved with the school,” Watters said. “We had a big change this year and a different mind-set that allowed us to have success and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
In addition to Austin College, Watters also had interest from Hendrix college in Arkansas. Watters also played two years of baseball and one year of basketball for the Yellowjackets. He is a good student off the field and will graduate this year as Salutatorian of his class in 2016.
Posted by : May 20, 2016| On :
By Ryan Moulds
Monitor Sports Writer
KEMP–Kemp senior point guard Brandon Shipp signed to play basketball at Southwestern Christian University, May 17 in the Kemp High School cafeteria.
“I’m very excited about playing for Southwestern Christian,” Shipp said. “It’s not too far away from home and I can come back any time. It’s a good college in a good location and I feel like the coaching staff can help me get where I need to be for my future.”
Unlike most NAIA schools, Southwestern Christian has a coach with several years of major college basketball experience. Dave Bliss coached at Oklahoma, SMU, New Mexico, and Baylor from 1975-2003. He has a career coaching record of 543-343 and will be in his second season as Head Coach of Southwestern Christian.
“Coach Bliss can get me to the level where I want to play at,” Shipp said. He can possibly help me reach a point where I can play in the NCAA at the division one or two level.”
Before signing with Southwestern Christian, Shipp also had interest from University of Dallas and Eastern Nazarene College.
Shipp served as a leader on and off the court for the Yellowjackets this season. He averaged 12 points per game, four rebounds per game, two assists and two steals per game.
He started 26 of 29 games this season for a Kemp team that finished 14-15 and almost made the playoffs in one of the toughest 3A districts in the state.
Shipp battled adversity all season long. After a serious eye injury sent him to the hospital in a tough loss to Maypearl Jan. 29. He was forced to sit out the next two games against Scurry-Rosser and Palmer. Despite not being able to play in the games, Shipp still helped support and coach his team from the sideline. Kemp won both games and played with extra motivation.
“I definitely think that we were playing for Shipp tonight,” fellow senior Jay Kohlmeier said after his team’s win over Scurry-Rosser back on Feb. 2. “We know that he would want us to play hard and get this victory.”
All of Shipp’s teammates speak highly of his character and his dedication to the game. “You can tell that when Shipp is on the court he gives max effort,” fellow senior Dylan Dennis said. “It makes it a lot easier when you are playing with somebody who always gives their all and is passionate about what they are doing.”
“The bond we had as a team this season was amazing,” Shipp said. “We had great chemistry between us and the coaching staff.” Shipp gives Kemp Head Coach Jordan Bedford the credit for helping him become the player that he is today. “He has really helped define me,” Shipp said. “Not just as a basketball player but as a person as well. He has really helped me change a lot of my ways throughout these last four years and he has made me a better man.”
Southwestern Christian went 19-15 in their first season with Bliss as coach. Shipp thinks that they are a better team then their record indicates. “I looked at the stats from last season,” he said. “It looks like they could have been a playoff team. My main goals are to come in and help build them up and create the culture of a successful program. I hope that I can be a part of a winning season.”
Despite leaving for college, Shipp says that Kemp will have a special place in his heart and that he will miss his teammates and coaches from high school. “I want to thank all the fan, students , and people in the community for their support,” Shipp said. “I want to thank them for coming to the games and for helping us have a successful basketball season because without there support none of the success we had would be possible.”