Sports Shorts: April 20

Cuthbertson baseball team wins spring break tournament

Cuthbertson junior Andrew Hendel (right) won MVP honors at last week’s Southeastern Baseball Showcase. Hendel helped propel the Cavs to the title with two hits and four RBIs in the championship game. He also earned the complete-game win on the mound. He struck out nine batters while only allowing three hits and one earned run. Photo courtesy of Debbie Fincher Design


Even with a 3-0 record headed into the championship game of last week’s Southeastern Baseball Classic in Hartsville, S.C., Cuthbertson High School baseball coach Travis Little wasn’t too happy with his team’s performance.

The Cavs had won the three previous games of the prestigious tournament but hardly did so in spectacular fashion, claiming one-run victories in each contest. The Cavs opened play with a 2-1 win over Peters Township (Pa.) on April 11 before beating Gaffney (S.C.), 3-2, the following day. Ohio’s St. Ignatius High School also fell, 3-2, to the Cavs.

But Little was anything but pleased.

“I had to play chess for two hours a day because we couldn’t hit our way out of a paper bag,” said Little.

But that changed on April 15, when the Cavs beat Virginia powerhouse St. Peter, 11-1, in the final.

“We came out that last day and finally blew up,” said Little. “To be able to come out and do that, to win it all, especially after (winning) the first three games by the sweat of our brow, just by finding a way to win because we weren’t playing good, was obviously a good thing.”

Little acknowledged that seeing his team win its first three games despite not playing its best baseball was encouraging, but he added that he hopes the title game will become the norm and not the exception.

“I think subconsciously that everyone thinks that it will just happen (offensively) because of our previous two years’ (success),” said Little. “But the last day showed that if we find our ‘A’ game then we can have a lot of success. We just have to find it consistently.”

The Cavaliers improved their record to 15-3 overall, with their three losses coming to Charlotte Providence, Fort Mill (S.C.) and Rocky River 1A/2A conferene rival Piedmont, which is tied with Cuthbertson for the league lead at 9-1.

Youth serving Mavs soccer

On the surface, the Marvin Ridge girls soccer season appears headed toward the status quo department. Through 14 games, the Mavs are 12-1-1 and ranked third in the state among Class 3A teams, according to eurosportscoreboard.com.

But even Marvin Ridge coach Ray Fumo had to pause before answering if he was surprised with how well things have gone for his team.

“That’s a yes-and-no thing,” said Fumo. “We knew we’d have to work hard, but we also knew we had potential. What we’ve been able to do it maximize our abilities and really work hard in each game to get the results that we’re getting.”

Fumo said the Mavs lost “four or five” seniors from last year’s squad, but the turnover was compounded by the early departures of Ali Dove and Marissa Hartert, who were juniors on last year’s team. Hartert graduated early and is already enrolled at Mercer University in Georgia, while Ali Dove chose to forgo her senior season of play so she could volunteer with Mercy Ships, which provides healthcare to underdeveloped nations.

To compensate for the losses of those two players, said Fumo, the Mavs adapted their style of play this year to fit both their roster and each opponents’ style of play. Lineups and positions have been tinkered with, said the coach, to fit the needs of each individual matchup, rather than previous Marvin Ridge teams which opted to dictate each game’s pace.

“Fortunately the girls have been able to make that adjustment, game in and game out,” said Fumo. “We’re asking a lot of these girls, and they’re responding very well.”

Of course, it helps to have a dominating defense, which is a luxury the Mavs have enjoyed. First-year starting goalkeeper Madison Martin headlines a unit that includes junior backs Jordan Roseboro, Ariel Griffin, Maria Liapis and sophomore Savannah Dove. The defense has recorded eight shutouts and allowed just eight goals on the season.

But the question entering the season was: How potent will the Mavs’ offense be? And freshmen Samantha Kae Davis and Amy Villa, and sophomore Alyssa Ventura have provided the answer. Along with all-state midfielder Katie Page, the three have been exceptional. Davis leads the team with 14 goals, while Ventura has added 13 scores and 11 assists. Villa, who moved to the midfield from the defense earlier in the season, has provided eight assists, with many coming off set pieces.

Fumo added that although the Mavs might have surprised some of their opponents during their first trip through the Southern Carolina 3A/4A slate, they shouldn’t expect that same luxury the second time around.

“We’ll have to respond seeing all of those teams at a different level,” said Fumo.
Porter Ridge gains national ranking.

When the ESPN FAB 50 national high school softball rankings came out this week, the Porter Ridge Pirates were ranked 29th in the country with a sparkling 19-0 record. According to Pirates coach Lael Rorie, it’s the first time her team has appeared in ESPN’s nationwide poll.

But don’t bother to ask her what number is next to her team’s name.

“I’m not even sure – I haven’t kept up with it. I have no clue,” said Rorie. “I know people have been telling me they’ve seen us in different polls, but I haven’t really looked at it.
“I don’t look at a lot of those things and overanalyze it, because a lot of times it tends to get in the girls’ heads, so I try not to do that.”

Instead, said Rorie, she’s chosen to keep her players’ sights trained on the team’s ultimate goal, which doesn’t include national polls.

“We just want to win a state championship,” said Rorie. “That’s our ultimate goal.”
The Pirates returned from spring break to take a 6-4 victory over Marvin Ridge on April 17. It was the Pirates’ first game in 12 days. And although Rorie said the break gave some of her players a chance to heal from nagging injuries, there is always the risk of players coming back rusty as the postseason draws near.

“That can go either way as a coach, so I hope it goes the better way for us,” Rorie said. “But I think they needed the rest.”

Pirates star Lexi Davis has continued her tear both on the mound and at the plate. The senior Auburn signee leads the team with a .475 batting average, seven home runs, seven doubles and 30 RBIs, and is tied with fellow senior Courtney Price (.467 batting average) with 28 hits. On the mound, Davis is 19-0 with a 0.121 ERA, allowing just two earned runs in 115 innings pitched, while also posting 154 strikeouts.

“I think (Davis) is very focused,” said Rorie. “She worked hard in the offseason, as all the girls did, and she seems very focused and very determined. It’s hard to stop someone when they’re very focused and in that zone.

“Everything she’s gotten to this point she has worked for and deserves.”

Sun Valley boosters to host car show

On April 28, the Sun Valley Athletic Booster Club will hold the first Spartan Spectacular Car Show. The event is free and will include classic 1950s music, food, drinks and a Sun Valley spirit wear clearance sale. Proceeds will benefit the Sun Valley Athletic Booster Club.

Registration begins at 7 a.m. for those interested in entering an automobile for the show, which will include several prizes. Judging will begin at noon, and registration is $15 per entry.

Grace Academy hosts 5K walk/run

Grace Academy, located in Matthews, is hosting its annual Grace to Walk and 5K Run For Healthier Families and Communities on Saturday, April 21.

The event will start at 8:30 a.m. in Matthews at the Grace Center on Pleasant Plains Road and go through Squirrel Lake Park. Proceeds will benefit future growth of the Grace Center, Matthews Free Medical Clinic, Stallings Parks & Recreation and Samaritan’s Feet.

The goal of the event is to heighten awareness about childhood health and health initiatives. Grace Academy has partnered with the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, whose goal is to empower kids nationwide to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Guests may attend, with a minimum $25 donation, and pets are also welcome.

After the walk/run, a festival-style celebration will take place, complete with food, entertainment and activities for kids and families.

To participate, or to inquire about corporate sponsorships, visit www.graceacademync.com, or contact Lynne Foreman at foreman@graceacademync.com or 704-234-0292.

Belk Bowl gets date, time

The 2012 Belk Bowl will be played on Thursday, Dec. 27, with a 6:30 p.m. kickoff at Charlotte’s Bank of America Stadium.

The game will be televised nationally on ESPN. The 11th annual bowl features a matchup between teams from the Atlantic Coast and Big East conferences.

“We are very excited to announce that we will be playing the 2012 Belk Bowl on December 27 for the second straight year,” said Will Webb, the game’s executive director. “This past year, our first with Belk as the title sponsor, was our best one yet. Belk has proven to be a dedicated and very involved partner, and we couldn’t be happier working with them. Together with Belk and ESPN, we look forward to showcasing Charlotte to fans at the game and viewers worldwide.”

The first college bowl game to call the Carolinas home, the Belk Bowl has averaged nearly 60,000 fans each year, with three sellouts. In addition, the 2011 game was viewed by more than 15 million people. In 2003, it was named one of the five best startups in sports during the past five years by the Sports Business Journal, ranking behind only the NFL’s Houston Texans and ESPN The Magazine. Ticket packages for the 2012 Belk Bowl will be available starting July 7 at www.belkbowl.com.

Charlotte Collegiate Football, a nonprofit, runs the Belk Bowl and serves as the local organizing committee for the Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game. The Dr Pepper ACC Football Championship Game, in its eighth year, will be played in Charlotte on Dec. 1. Last year’s game was the second consecutive time it was played in Charlotte, with both being sellouts. The winner of the championship earns the ACC bid to play in the Discover Orange Bowl, if its not selected to play in the BCS National Championship.

For more information, visit www.­belkbowl.com.

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