Nick Macklin, Jeremy Nichols Among Feature Winners at Farmer City Raceway in Week 3

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- For the first time this racing season, Decatur's Dave Crawley Jr. did not take the checkered flag in the Sportsman feature.

He took third place behind Nick Macklin of Oreana and Dustin Mounce of Pontiac. Mansfield's Rod Rusher finished in the top 10.

Sportsman Feature Results

1. Nick Macklin, Oreana; 2. Dustin Mounce, Pontiac; 3. Dave Crawley Jr., Decatur; 4. Alan Crowder, Elwin; 5. Jason Maier, Thomasboro; 6. Daniel Flessner, Thawville; 7. Richie Rich, Pontiac; 8. Steven Mattingly, Lexington; 9. Andrew Funk, Dwight; 10. Rod Rusher, Mansfield; 11. Shawn Diggs, Holder; 12. Mike Pickering; 13. Dave Slade, Seymour; 14. Jim Felker, Bloomington; 15. Tony Clinton, Dawson; 16. Cody Wickline, Assumption.

Street Stock Feature Results

1. Jeremy Nichols, Decatur; 2. David Billingsley; 3. Chris Dick, DeLand; 4. Nate Zimmer, Mattoon; 5. Rick Thomas; 6. Blake Shelly, Oakley; 7. Robert Turner; 8. Troy Dodson, Cerro Gordo; 9. Gene Reed; 10. Rick Alwood, Clinton; 11. Don Hillery; 12. Mike Pickering; 13. Rod Rogers, Foosland.

Farmer City's Jim Quinn started the feature in the No. 7 spot and did not finish.

Hornets Feature Results

1. Kenny Butterfield, Glasford; 2. Derrick Deford; 3. Matt Maier, Thomasboro; 4. Troy Newberry, Bloomington; 5. Jeremy Kingsley, Peoria; 6. Casey Gernentz, Penfield; 7. Joe Reed, Decatur; 8. Tanner Tibbs, Pontiac; 9. Brian Wilson, Colfax; 10. Chris Burton, Mansfield; 11. Rick Reed; 12. Dion Smith, Bloomington; 13. Ben Gernentz, Gifford; 14. Bob Althouse, Bloomington; 15. Trisha Burton, Mansfield; 16. Luke Althouse, Paxton.

Mini-Sprints Feature Results

1. Jason Harms; 2. Ryne Welch; 3. Jake Newman, New Berlin; 4. Shelby Bosie; 5. Keith Garner; 6. Kyle Schuett; 7. Levi Curry, Lincoln; 8. Bryan France; 9. Cameron King; 10. Derek Schuett; 11. Andy Bough, Mason City; 12. Devin Feger; 13. Jeff Beasley, Urbana; 14. Luke Vaughn, Mahomet; 15. Liam Haigh.

Late Models Feature Results

1. Wes Steidinger, Fairbury; 2. Derek Chandler, Pontiac; 3. Ryan Unzicker, El Paso; 4. Brandon Sheppard, New Berlin; 5. Michael Kloos; 6. Kevin Weaver, Gibson City; 7. Mike Spatola, Manhattan; 8. Eric Smith, Bloomington; 9. Randy Korte, Highland; 10. Joe Harlan, El Paso; 11. Steve Sheppard Jr., New Berlin; 12. Donny Walden, Towanda; 13. Joe Janowski, Carmel, Ind; 14. Dillan White, Hopkinsville, Ky.; 15. Scott Schmitt, Tonica; 16. Brian Diveley, Springfield.

Modifieds Feature Results

1. Jeff Leka, Buffalo; 2. Nick Allen, Wheatfield, Ind.; 3. Lance Dehm, Chatsworth; 4. Jeff Curl, Forrest; 5. Dustin King; 6. Chad Evans, Mattoon; 7. Gary Turpin, Bloomington; 8. Eric Bruce, Peoria; 9. Chad Osterhoff, Kankakee; 10. David Henderson, Danville; 11. Darren Kohler; 12. Jay Ledford, Pontiac; 13. Justin Delong, Bloomington; 14. Justin Leka, Buffalo; 15. Brian Diveley, Springfield; 16. J.R. Mason; 17. Rick Hamilton, Decatur.

For more results, visit farmercityracing.com or speednetdirect.com


Historic Senior Class Gets Recognition Prior to Blue Ridge Softball Game

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- The first senior class to accumulate more than 100 wins.

The first Blue Ridge team to win a Heart of Illinois Conference title in any sport. Any way you put it, the players being honored in this year's Senior Day has accomplished so much in their four years as Lady Knights.

For most of the seniors, their proudest achievement occurred in their sophomore year of 2009. That year, they played at the University of Illinois in the super-sectionals.

"That was an experience," Marcie Crawford, who will be majoring in athletic training at Coe College in Iowa, said. "It was really intense, and it felt like there were so many people watching, but it was just the normal people that come to the games all the time. It felt good, though. I liked it."

For Hannah Mattingly, however, her most memorable moment as a Blue Ridge softball player occurred this year during a road trip to Tennessee. The Lady Knights were in Tennessee for matchups against Houston, Tipton-Rosemark Academy and Fayette Academy, and Mattingly recalled getting her arm stuck in a hotel elevator.

Good memories or bad, the seniors said they will miss playing alongside their Blue Ridge teammates.

"It has meant the world to me," Jordyn Fones, who will major in civil and environmental engineering at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, said. "It's going to be tough leaving all these girls. I've grown up with them and played with them since I was eight [years old]. I've had a wonderful four years, and I'm going to miss it."

Crawford said, through playing softball for Blue Ridge, she learned some lessons on how to develop relationships with people.

"I really liked being cohesive with everyone," Crawford said. "It's taught me to work with people no matter what and to just push through. There's going to be people that you don't like and people that you do like.  You just have to deal with everyone the same. They're your teammates, and you've just got to be strong together."

For at least most of these seniors, saying goodbye to this chapter in their lives will open up a new one.

"I loved the campus," Fones said of her visit to UA-Huntsville. "I loved the coach. I got to play with the team, and it felt like a family down there. I just really like it down there."

Along with Jade O'Neal, Fones and Crawford, the other seniors will seek higher education after graduating from Blue Ridge High School.

Mattingly and Paige Weidner will attend Parkland College. Mattingly will major in mass communication while Weidner will seek education in the field of dental hygiene.

Kalyn Reynolds will go to flight school in Alabama.

After the seniors were introduced, their mothers threw ceremonial first pitches. Some of the pitches, like this one from Marcie Crawford's mom, were, as Bob Uecker would say, "Juuust a bit outside."

Melinda Wilson Powers Blue Ridge Softball to Victory over Flanagan-Cornell

Melinda Wilson's teammates greet her at home plate after she hits her second home run of the game.

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- On a Friday in which the seniors were the center of attention, a junior named Melinda Wilson stole the show.

Wilson hit home runs in the first and third innings to spark the Lady Knights to an 11-1 six-inning victory over Flanagan-Cornell.

Wilson's first home run, a two-runner which sailed over the right-field fence, broke a 1-1 tie after Jade O' Neal hit a sacrifice fly ball to score Jordyn Fones for the tying run. The homer sent Marcie Crawford, who advanced to third base on the sac fly.

Wilson's second dinger was smacked over the left-field fence to increase Blue Ridge's lead to 4-1. She finished the game hitting 3-for-3 with a double and a walk.

The Lady Knights scored five runs in the fifth inning. O'Neal hit a two-run homer after Jordan Wheeler led off the inning with a walk.

Wilson scored the next run from second base on a Hannah Mattingly bunt. After Wilson walked and took second on a wild pitch, Mattingly's bunt was fielded by Flanagan player who overthrew the first baseman; Mattingly ended up on second base.

After Mattingly advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Kalyn Reynolds, Jamison Brandt drove her home with a base hit down the middle. Fones hit an infield single to send Brandt home.

In the sixth and final inning of the game, Wilson's double put runners on second and third base. Then Mattingly hit a two-RBI double to end the game.

Wheeler improved her pitching record to 13-3 after striking out eight batters and allowing one run on one hit and three walks. One of those walks occurred with the bases loaded to give Flanagan-Cornell a 1-0 lead.

Blue Ridge ended the first and second innings with double plays to bail Wheeler out of some jams. From there, Wheeler retired the next 12 batters.

"It was the best game, period," Lady Knights coach Myron Schroeder said. "It was kind of like we wanted it more. I think we played well today."

Prior to walking in the sixth inning, O'Neal hit a foul ball that made hard contact with Schroeder. After a delay of a few minutes and an apology from O'Neal, he walked back to the dugout, leaving assistant coach Aimee Thacker to manage the rest of the game from third base.

Schroeder says he is fine, and he should be able to manage the Lady Knights' next game. Blue Ridge is now 19-4 overall and 7-2 in the Heart of Illinois Conference and will host a Monday conference matchup against El Paso-Gridley.

Jade O' Neal Among Seniors to be Honored before Blue Ridge's Softball Game Friday

At 4:20 p.m., the seniors on Blue Ridge's softball team will ceremoniously stare at the end of a time in their lives they will never forget.

One of those seniors is catcher Jade O'Neal, who will attend Illinois Central College next year. There, she will major in business and minor in photography, hoping it will lead to owning a photography business.

However, no matter where she goes in life, she says she will never forget her experiences as a catcher for the Lady Knights.

"I love this team," O'Neal said. "Me and Jordan [Wheeler] have been together for three years. We worked so hard to get where we are. I'm going to miss Blue Ridge softball when I leave."

For head coach Myron Schroeder, it will be the last time he will see Senior Day as the Lady Knights' head coach. After this season, he will enjoy retirement activities such as going to Arizona for spring training.

"I spend a lot of time there," Schroeder said. "I have a condo that is only a few blocks away from Diablo Stadium, which the [Los Angeles] Angels' park."

However, Schroeder insists that the Senior Day festivities are not about him.

"It ought to be about the kids; it ain't about me," Schroeder said.

In addition to O'Neal, Jordyn Fones, Marcie Crawford, Hannah Mattingly, Paige Weidner and Kalyn Reynolds will also be honored on Senior Day.

Blue Ridge Softball Finds "Groove," Wins Conference Game over Heyworth

HEYWORTH, Ill. -- The Lady Knights erased any chance of the Hornets, pulling off a stinging upset in the fifth inning and never looked back.

With Blue Ridge down 2-1, Jade O'Neal drove Jordyn Fones and Marcie Crawford home with a double for what turned out to be the game-winning run. From there, the Lady Knights dominated en route to a 9-2 victory.

"After the third inning, I thought we were back in the groove after not playing very well for about a week and a half," Blue Ridge coach Myron Schroeder said. "I think we're coming back; I think we're playing OK. We're going to peak at the right time."

Following O'Neal's 2-RBI double, Melinda Wilson, who was belatedly celebrating a birthday after the game, drove in Alana Strum, who was running for O'Neal, with a triple. She scored a run to make the score 5-2 after Hannah Mattingly hit a fly ball to right field that was dropped for an error.

In the sixth inning, Crawford sent Fones to home plate with an single to left field. Fones got on base with a bunt single and stole second base before scoring.

Fones finished the game batting 4-for-5 with a double and two runs. She also stole three bases.

Mattingly hit a two-out, two-RBI single to make the score 8-2 at the end of the sixth inning. With one out in the seventh inning, Kalyn Reynolds hit a ball to right-center field that led to an inside-the-park home run.

Jordan Wheeler was the winning pitcher for Blue Ridge. She increased her record to 12-3 by striking out 10 Heyworth batters and giving up two runs on five hits and no walks.

With runners on second and third base in the first inning, Wheeler threw a wild pitch that sent both runners home and gave the Hornets the early 2-0 lead.

The lead was cut to 2-1 in the second inning when Wilson scored on a Jamison Brandt groundout.   

The win over Heyworth improved Blue Ridge's record to 18-4 and 6-2 in the Heart of Illinois Conference. The Lady Knights will host Flanagan today at 4:30 p.m., with Senior Day festivities starting at 4:30 p.m.

Pro Football Boycott to Continue Despite Lockout Lifting

It has been suggested that I should end by boycott of the league that shall remain nameless because the lockout has been lifted by a judge.

Some of you may want to know how I feel about the draft in this league.

But there is something you should understand: the lockout is not over yet.

There is still a new collective bargaining agreement that needs to be agreed upon. And last I heard, the owners were still planning on appealing the judge's decision to lift the lockout.

The plight of the lockout is the same as the plight of African-Americans' freedom during the time period between the Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil Rights Movement.

As Dane Cook put it in ISolated INcident, "they were free, but they weren't absolutely free."

Until the lockout is "absolutely" over, the pro football league shall remain nameless on this blog.

On the following link, you can sign an online petition to end (and I, of course, mean absolutely end) the lockout: www.nflfansunited.com.

Chicago Bulls vs. Atlanta Hawks -- NBA Playoffs Second Round

Game 1: Monday

Game 2: Wednesday

Game 3: Friday, May 6

Game 4: Sunday, May 8

Game 5: Tuesday, May 10*

Game 6: Thursday, May 12*

Game 7: Sunday, May 15*

* -- if necessary


Blue Ridge Softball and Baseball Rained Out Again

They say April showers produce May flowers.

With the amount of baseball and softball games that have been postponed or cancelled this past week in the state of Illinois, one could imagine some very pretty flowers will be grown in May.

The Knights had baseball and softball games scheduled to be played today against Ridgeview in Colfax. But, just like several games lately, they have been cancelled.


Blue Ridge Softball and Baseball Schedule Changes -- 4/26/11

Blue Ridge's softball and baseball teams were scheduled to play at Heyworth today.

However, due to inclement weather, the games have been postponed to Thursday. Both teams had games scheduled at Hartsburg-Emden that day; both games have been cancelled to make room for the Heyworth matchups.

Weather permitting (raise your hand if you're sick and tired of seeing those words), Blue Ridge baseball and softball will travel to Colfax to face Ridgview High School on Wednesday.


Miracle on Ice II? Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks to Meet for a Possibly Miraculous Game 7

Did anybody else notice that the final score of Game 6 (4-3) was the same score as the United States' legendary semifinal win in the 1980 Winter Olympics over the Soviet Union?

That's not the only similarity that I see between that game and this surprisingly-ongoing series between the Blackhawks and Canucks.

Like the Soviets in 1980, Vancouver was the overwhelming favorite to win the championship. Or, at the very least, get past a certain team from America; especially if the Canucks get a 3-0 lead in the series.

Like the USSR, the 'Nucks have one of the best goaltenders in the game. And like the Soviet coach did with Vladislav Tretiak after the first period of the Miracle on Ice, Vancouver's coach made a sudden decision prior to Game 6 to bench his star goalie.

So is this all a sign of history repeating itself? Well, if the Blackhawks pull off the unthinkable, I will, as Al Michaels famously said, "believe in miracles."

Blue Ridge Games Cancelled; Senior Day Festivities Rescheduled for Friday

Blue Ridge's softball and baseball games against Tri-Point have been cancelled.

The softball team previously planned on having their Senior Day celebration prior to its game. However, it will now take place on Friday, when the Lady Knights host Flanagan at Weedman Park.

The following are the names of the seniors, their up-to-date statistics for the 2011 season. For some of them, the colleges to which they have committed are listed as well.

Jade O' Neal (Illinois Central College)

.411 AVG, 16 RBIs, 3 HRs

Jordyn Fones (Alabama-Huntsville)

.486 AVG, 12 RBIs

Marcie Crawford (Coe College, IA)

.467 AVG, 32 RBIs, 6 HRs

Kalyn Reynolds

.298 AVG, 19 RBIs, 4 HRs

Hannah Mattingly

.333 AVG, 10 RBIs, 1 HR

Paige Weidner

.222 AVG, 5 RBIs


Jordan Wheeler Sets Pitching Record as Blue Ridge Sweeps Twinbill at Rantoul

RANTOUL -- Solid pitching performances from Jordan Wheeler and Marcie Crawford led the Lady Knights to two wins over Rantoul.

Wheeler increased her pitching record to 11-3 while leading Blue Ridge to a 3-0 win in the first game. She allowed only two hits while striking out 16 batters.

With the win, Wheeler now holds the school record for most wins in a career with 52. The previous record holder, with 51 wins, was Ashley Elliott, who pitched for the Lady Knights from 2005-08.

Crawford only allowed six hits as she led Blue Ridge to a 9-1 win in the second game. She also led the Lady Knights at the plate, hitting a three-run home run in the third inning.

The homer was her third of the season.

By sweeping the doubleheader at Rantoul, Blue Ridge improves its record to 17-4. The Lady Knights' next game is on Monday (weather permitting), when they host Tri-Point at 4:30 p.m.

Before the game, the seniors will conduct their Senior Day festivities, which will begin at 4:20 p.m.


Farmer City Raceway Report -- 4/22/11

Tonight's races have been cancelled due to rainy conditions.

The races will not be made up. The next scheduled races are scheduled for next Friday.

The following are the updated standings as of Monday:

Late Models

1. Brian Shirley (Chatham) 40; 2. Frank Heckenhast Jr. (University) 38; 3. Mike Spatola (Manhattan) 36; 4. Eric Smith (Bloomington) 34; 5. Brandon Sheppard (New Berlin) 32; 6. Ryan Unzicker (El Paso) 30; 7. Bret Sievert (Mukwonko, Wisc.) 28; 8. Roger Brickler (Springfield) 27; 9. Donny Walden (Towanda) 26; 10. Brian Diveley (Springfield) 25.

Other result: T-21. Curtis Hobbs (Farmer City) 10.


1. Nick Allen (Wheatfield, Ind.) 76; 2. Jeff Leka (Buffalo) 72; 3. Jamie Lomax (Lake Village, Ind.) 66; 4. Jay Ledford (Pontiac) 58; 5. Justin Delong (Bloomington) 54; 6. McKay Wenger (Fairbury) 53; 7. Lance Dehm (Chatsworth) 47; 8. Ryan Cary (Catlin) 46; 9. Mark Tullis (Macon) 43; 10. Jeff Curl (Forrest) 40.

Street Stock

1. Travis Johnson (Ashland) 74; 2. Brian Cassell (Decatur) 65; 3. T-3. Joe Brown (Wilmington) 65; T-3. Jim Quinn (Farmer City) 65; 5. Rick Alwood (Clinton) 56; 6. Travis Wolford 54; 7. Brandon Roundtree 50; 8. Eric Wilson (Downs) 42; 9. Travis Thrasher (Clinton) 41; 10. Terry Reed 40.

Other result: T-18. Josh Smith (Clinton) 23.


T-1. Matt Maier (Thomasboro) 70; T-1. Joe Reed (Decatur) 70; T-3. Dion Smith (Bloomington) 66; T-3. Casey Gernentz (Penfield) 66; 5. Larry Hawk (Champaign) 61; 6. Ben Gernentz (Gifford) 59; 7. Brian Wilson (Colfax) 54; 8. David Lauritson (Normal) 52; 9. Chris Burton (Mansfield) 48; 10. Jeremy Reed (Decatur) 45.

Other result: 11. Trisha Burton (Mansfield) 42.


1. Dave Crawley Jr. (Decatur) 80; 2. Daniel Flessner (Thawville) 74; T-3. Nick Macklin (Oreana) 66; T-3. Dustin Mounce (Pontiac) 66; 5. Jason Maier (Thomasboro) 59; 6. Allen Crowder (Elwin) 58; 7. Darrel Dick (Monticello) 55; 8. Dave Slade (Seymour) 53; 9. Richie Rich (Pontiac) 52; 10. Nick Maestas (Lincoln) 46.    

Other result: 13. Rod Rusher (Mansfield) 41.

Chicago Bulls, Blackhawks Offer Little Degrees of Separation

NBA Playoffs Game 3: Chicago Bulls 88, Indiana Pacers 84

I wouldn't be too alarmed by the Pacers' ability to compete with the Bulls.

When the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last year, they swept the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals. And that was after they beat the Nashville Predators in a superfluously tough, six-game first round.

The Bulls, like the Blackhawks of last year, have a tendency to play down to its opponent. Hopefully, this is just an omen saying that they'll turn up their game against tougher opponents such as the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat.

NHL Playoffs Game 5: Chicago Blackhawks 5, Vancouver Canucks 0

But then again, it could be a bad omen.

Like the Pacers, the No. 8-seeded Blackhawks were able to compete with the President's Trophy-winning Canucks in the first three games. Even though they lost the first three game, you had a feeling the Blackhawks weren't goting to go quietly.

And with the way they've played the last two games, you can't really laugh too loudly of pulling off a comeback that hasn't been seen since -- well, last year. Sorry, Bruins fans.


Errors Costly for Blue Ridge Softball in Loss to Tri-Valley

DOWNS, Ill. -- In this rematch of last year's regional title game, the Lady Knights' chances for redemption faded in the bottom of the first inning.

An error-prone Blue Ridge team allowed the Lady Vikings to score four runs in that inning. And they never looked back, showing the No. 12-ranked Lady Knights why they now have the No. 7 ranking with a 6-1 victory.

After a 1-2-3 top of the first inning from Tri-Valley's Mikaela Carr, Janelle Dedic led off the bottom half with a double. Then Carr drove in the game's first run with a double of her own.

Blue Ridge had a chance to get Carr out, as she hit a foul ball toward left field. But the left fielder failed to catch the foul ball.

Cassie Norman hit a ground ball in the next at-bat and wound up safe on first base because Kalyn Reynolds was off the base when she caught the throw-out attempt. With Molly Lessen at the plate, Jordan Wheeler threw a wild pitch to score Carr from third base and advance Norman to third base.

With two outs, Kendall Gher doubled Tri-Valley's lead by hitting a two-RBI double that scored Norman and Lessen.

"It was a one-inning game," Blue Ridge softball coach Myron Schroeder said. "If we hadn't thrown out the first inning, we would have been in it. Six errors [in the game] contributed to that."

Wheeler drove in Jordyn Fones to score Blue Ridge's only run of the game in the third inning. Fones got on base with a walk and stole second base, and Wheeler hit a full-count pitch for an RBI single.

The Lady Knights also had an opportunity with runners in scoring position in the second inning. Jade O'Neal hit a double and Chandler Morrow, who ran as a courtesy to the catcher, advanced to third on a Melinda Wilson groundout.

With one out, Hannah Mattingly got on base with a walk and stole second. However, neither Morrow nor Mattingly reached home plate, as Carr struck out Reynolds and Jamison Brandt to end the top half of the inning.

"We just didn't execute," Schroeder said. "We couldn't get the big hit."

Carr finished the game as the winning pitcher, striking out 10 Blue Ridge batters while allowing only three hits and conceding two walks. Meanwhile, Wheeler's pitching record fell to 11-3 as she threw five strikeouts and three walks.

In the fifth inning, Lessen scored Tri-Valley's fifth run. After she walked and stole second, Gher drove her to home plate with an RBI single.

In the sixth inning, Carr hit a single to left field over Brandt's outstretched glove at third base. She scored the Lady Vikings' final run when Norman hit a ball to left field that bounced off the left fielder's glove.

Even though Blue Ridge once again failed to get over the Tri-Valley hurdle, he was able to find some perspective minutes after the game ended.

"It's just a game," Schroeder said. "It's not life or death. We'll come back from this. We'll get better as the season goes on."

The Lady Knights will take its 15-4 to Rantoul High School for a Saturday doubleheader. The first game starts at 10 a.m.


Tri-Valley 2, Blue Ridge 0


Record-Setting Day Powers Blue Ridge Softball to Nonconference Win over Prairie Central

FAIRBURY, Ill. -- The Lady Knights found out earlier on Monday that they fell from No. 7 to No. 12 in the Illinois Coaches Association poll.

That evening, they apparently took their anger out on any yellow ball pitched at them. And as a result, the 2011 Blue Ridge softball team has made school history.

Jade O'Neal and Kalyn Reynolds each hit a pair of three-run homers to lead Blue Ridge to a 9-8 victory over the Prairie Central Hawks. The dingers increased the Lady Knights' season total to 26, which sets a new record for most home runs hit in a single season.

With the victory, Blue Ridge increased its record to 15-3 heading into a highly-anticipated matchup in Downs against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year: Tri-Valley.

Weather permitting, the rematch of the regional title game will take place at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

Game Cancellation

Blue Ridge's softball game against Bloomington Central Catholic on May 3 has been called off.

The Lady Knights rescheduled a game at Tremont, originally scheduled for last Friday, to May 3. Therefore, the Central Catholic game will be cancelled to make room.


The Knights lost to Prairie Central to fall to a record of 5-9.


Blue Ridge Softball Moves Down 5 Spots in Illinois Coaches Association Poll

Ranked No. 7 in the ICA poll last week, the Lady Knights sunk to No. 12 spot.

Their lone loss over the past week was to Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley. The Lady Falcons moved up to No. 11 in the ICA poll.

Also moving up in the standings are the Tri-Valley Lady Vikings (No. 7, No. 9 last week), with whom Blue Ridge will meet in Downs on Wednesday. It is a rematch of last year's regional championship, which Tri-Valley won.

But first, the Lady Knights have a date in Fairbury, where they will take on the Prairie Central Hawks today at 4:30 p.m.

Altamont is ICA's New No. 1

The Indians move ahead of the Cobden Appleknockers.

Their key victory was a doubleheader win last Thursday over Beecher City/Cowden-Herrick.

Jeff Curl Among Winners at Farmer City Raceway in Week 2

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- From the Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field to the Green Monster at Fenway Park, some sporting venues have a signature trait that distinguishes itself from others.

For some racers at the Farmer City Raceway on Sunday, the trait that separates itself from other racetracks is the dirt.

"You gotta get dirty," Sandy Shomidie, a pit crew member for Modified Division driver and Springfield native Guy Taylor, said.

For some drivers, getting dirty and driving safely can be a challenge, as the dirt can transform a left turn into a sideways slip 'n slide. A few racers end up sliding off the track; some others over-turn and collide with other cars.

In one Crate LM race, Kenny VanDorn of New Berlin found himself momentarily off the track following a sliding left turn. Still, he holds no ill will toward the track.

"[The dirt] has been here for a long time," VanDorn said. "I wish [the Farmer City Raceway] were a little closer to where I live, but it's a nice track."

There may be other racetracks with challenging roads. Just like there are other football fields that endure freezing temperatures or other left-field fences that are abnormally large.

And, of course, this week's races were delayed for two days due to rainy conditions, and the races were conducted with the temperatures roughly in the 40-50 degree range. So that probably didn't make driving any easier.

But for those who embrace the challenge of the Farmer City Raceway dirt (or Farm Dirt, if you will), the reward for digging in the trenches can be sweet victory. For example, Jeremy Reed of Decatur won Heat 3 of the Hornets Division.

"[The track is] fast and smooth," Reed said. "If I wanted an easy drive, I'd drive on pavement."


One racer who drove very smoothly through the dirt was Jeff Curl of Forrest, Ill.

He won the Modified Division feature, making himself $1,000 richer in the process. It was his first win at the Farmer City Raceway.

"It's unbelievable," Curl said. "I'm ecstatic. It still hasn't sunk in; it probably will later tonight."


Kenny Butterfield of Glasford finished behind Matt Maier of Thomasboro in the first heat.

But he overtook Maier in the feature.

Despite winning the third heat, Jeremy Reed did not qualify for the feature.


1. Kenny Butterfield, Glasford; 2. Matt Maier, Thomasboro; 3. Dion Smith; Bloomington; 4. Troy Newberry, Bloomington; 5. Joe Reed, Decatur; 6. Jerry Benninger, Lincoln; 7. Brian Wilson, Colfax; 8. Larry Hawk, Champaign; 9. Casey Gernentz, Penfield; 10. David Lauritson, Normal.


Winner -- Derrick Deford

Heat 3

Winner -- Jeremy Reed, Decatur

Heat 2

Winner -- Dion Smith, Bloomington

Heat 1

Winner -- Matt Maier, Thomasboro


After finishing second in the first heat and starting second in the feature, Nick Bauman of New Berlin broke through and won the feature.

Clinton's Matt Beadles and Roben Huffman finished fourth and sixth, respectively, in the feature. Beadles started in the sixth position after finishing fourth in the first heat while Huffman finished third in the same heat en route to starting seventh in the feature.


1. Nick Bauman, New Berlin; 2. Brad Willis Jr.; 3. Randy Myers, Springfield; 4. Matt Beadles, Clinton; 5. Kevin Fink; 6. Roben Huffman, Clinton; 7. Jake Griffin; 8. John Barnard, Sherman; 9. Cunningham; 10. Ron Wilson, Pekin; 11. Kenny VanDorn, New Berlin; 12. George Clevenger, Mount Pulaski; 13. Brad Willis Sr (DNF); 14. Bobby Lynn (DNF); 15. Ryan Blair, Edinburg (DNS).

Heat 2

Winner -- Brad Willis Jr.

Heat 1

Winner -- Randy Myers, Springfield


Feature winner -- Terry Reed

Farmer City's own Jim Quinn took third place in the feature.


For the second consecutive week, Dave Crawley Jr. of Decatur won the Sportsman Division feature.

He beat out Dustin Mounce of Pontiac, who shared the lead with Crawley during some points of the race.


Feature winner -- Andy Baugh

More results may be seen at farmercityracing.com or speednetdirect.com.


Derrick Rose, Chicago Bulls Overcome Double-Digit Deficit to Beat Pacers

Game 1: Chicago Bulls 104, Indiana Pacers 99

I don't know if you decided to leave the United Center early or turn the channel to something else.

But if you did, shame on you.

So what if the Bulls trailed by 10 late in the fourth quarter? As long as they have Derrick Rose, they have a chance, and you should know that by now.

Just as he's done all year, D-Rose carried Chicago from the jaws of defeat to victory. He had 39 points, the last four of which put the Bulls on top.

After tying the game with his signature floating shot, he set up Kyle Korver for a wide-open three-pointer to put Chicago up 102-99. Then Rose sinked two free throws to put the game away.

Chicago Blackhawks Head Back Home for Must-Win Games

Game 2: Vancouver 4, Chicago 3

As Pat Foley said on the Comcast SportsNet broadcast, there are two times in which you must not allow the other team to score a goal: in the first minute of a period and in the last.

In the second period, the Blackhawks did both. Thirty second into the period, Daniel Sedin scored a power-play goal to put the Canucks up 2-0.

Then, after Chicago cut the lead in half with a Ben Smith goal, Alexander Edler killed whatever momentum the Blackhawks may have gained by scoring a goal with 14 seconds left in the second period.

Edler's tally put the Canucks up 3-1 heading into the second intermission and gave his team the driver's seat.

In the third period, Viktor Stalberg shot a wrister past Roberto Luongo to cut the lead to 3-2. Following another goal by Daniel Sedin, Ben Smith scored a second goal as well to again cut the Canuck lead to one.

Despite some quality chances, the Blackhawks could not get the tying goal in the final minutes.

This time around, the Blackhawks were able to get some pressure on Luongo. This is a step up from the first game.

As the series shifts to the Madhouse on Madison, there are two things the Blackhawks must do to make this a competitive series.

First, they need to come out of the gate with the same intensity they had at the end of Game 2. This is the second time Vancouver started out with a 2-0 lead; Chicago cannot play catch-up throughout the series and expect to win it.

Second, they will need more production from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Neither superstar has been able to do anything, and Joel Quenneville will need to find a way to spark some life in his top lines.


2011 NBA Playoffs: Chicago Bulls Will Make Danny Granger Eat His Words

They say beggars can't be choosers.

You would think the Indiana Pacers, with a regular-season record of 37-45, would consider themselves lucky just to be in the playoffs. Well, Danny Granger apparently has another reason to be happy.

He said on NBA-TV that he is glad they are playing in the first round against the Chicago Bulls instead of the Boston Celtics. He said the Celtics are a better team than the Bulls, who finished with the NBA's best record (62-20, which happens to be Chicago's regular-season record in 1997-98, the year they won their sixth title).

Granted, there are a few "experts" on ESPN who feel the same way. But if Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau hasn't posted this on his wall for motivation, it's here on this blog.

As for you, Granger, I will just say this: Be careful what you wish for.

Blue Ridge, Farmer City Raceway Report -- 4/15/11

Today's Blue Ridge baseball and softball games at Tremont have been postponed.

They will be made up on May 3. Tonight's Farmer City Raceway events have been postponed as well; they have been rescheduled for this Sunday starting at 5 p.m.

Saturday's baseball doubleheader against Decatur Christian and softball twinbill against Peoria Manual have been cancelled.


Chicago Blackhawks Get Knocked Down (But Not Out) in Round 1 to Vancouver Canucks

Game 1: Vancouver 2, Chicago 0

Any way you slice it, the Blackhawks were thoroughly outplayed by the Canucks in the first 10:23 of the game.

Vancouver didn't just outscore Chicago. They outhit, out-skated, out-shot, out-etc. the Blackhawks, and that led to a 2-0 lead.

The Canucks' first goal was off a deflection by Chris Higgins, assisted by Kevin Bieksa and Ryan Kesler. The second one came via breakaway by Jannik Jansen; the assist was credited to Mikael Samuelsson.

The way Chicago played in the first 10:23 of the game, you would have thought they started a three-day slumber immediately after Sunday's loss to the Detroit Red Wings. And they woke up to the stunning realization that they were playoff-bound.

Then Joel Quenneville called a timeout (I'm sure he had some talking points), and the game turned into a defensive battle in which both teams had some golden opportunities hit a goalpost or thwarted by theatrical saves by Roberto Luongo and Corey Crawford.

The way this game went, I wouldn't expect the Canucks to sweep the Hawks; I think Chicago could manage at least one win in this series. But if the Blackhawks want to make this a series, they need to find someone who can step up and score some playoff goals.

They had Dustin Byfuglien during the past two years. Now that he's an Atlanta Thrasher, the Hawks need to find Luongo Slayer Jr.

Keeping Up with our Fones-es: Blue Ridge Softball Runs Away from Lexington

LEXINGTON, Ill. -- The Lady Knights scored three runs in the fourth and sixth innings each to leave Lexington with a 7-1 Heart of Illinois Conference victory.

After hitting a double to left field in the fourth, Kalyn Reynolds was caught in a pickle between third base and home plate on a hit by Melinda Wilson. But she escaped the pickle and scored what turned out to be the game-winning run.

Jordyn Fones scored on the same sequence after bunting herself to first base and stealing second base. Wilson reached third base, scoring on an RBI single by Jade O'Neal.

In the sixth inning, Fones walked, stole second base again and reached third on a wild pitch. Wilson also reached base via walk, and Jordan Wheeler drove them both to home plate with a single following the wild pitch.

Wheeler later scored from third base on another wild pitch for the final score of the game.

Fones finished the game hitting 3-for-3 with two walks. Reynolds went 3-for-4.

Fones led off the game for Blue Ridge by reaching first base on an error. Wilson drove her home with an RBI double in the next at-bat to give the Knights a 1-0 lead.

With runners on first and third base in the bottom of the first inning, the Lady Minutemen tied the game on some aggressive baserunning. As the Lexington runner on first base attempted to steal second, the third-base runner stole home.

Marcie Crawford was the winning pitcher for Blue Ridge, increasing her record to 5-1 by striking out seven Minutemen.

The Knights improved their record to 14-3 overall and 4-1 in the HOIC. Their next game is on Friday, when they travel to Tremont High School.

Blue Ridge Baseball

The Knights lost 9-1 to the Minutemen, falling to 5-8 overall and 1-4 in the HOIC.

Jordan Wheeler, Blue Ridge Softball Recover from GCMS Loss

MACKINAW, Ill. -- The Lady Knights returned to the winners' circle Tuesday, defeating the Deer Creek-Mackinaw Chiefs 5-2 to improve their record to 13-3 overall and 3-1 in the Heart of Illinois Conference.

Fresh off her pitching matchup with Illinois State-bound Regan Romshek, Jordan Wheeler resumed her dominating ways on the mound. She struck out 14 Dee-Mack hitters while allowing two runs on only five hits and one walk in a complete game to increase her pitching record to 9-2.

Blue Ridge was led by Hannah Mattingly at the plate. She hit a home run and batted in three runs while batting 1-for-3.

Jamison Brandt contributed by hitting 2-for-3. Marcie Crawford batted 1-for-4 with a double and Paige Weidner recorded an RBI while going 1-for-3 at the plate.

Blue Ridge Baseball Loses to Dee-Mack

A complete-game gem by the Chiefs' Grant Anderson doomed the Knights, as they lost to Dee-Mack 6-1.

Anderson allowed a run on only four hits. With the loss, Blue Ridge falls to 5-7 overall and 1-3 in the Heart of Illinois Conference.


Blue Ridge Baseball Rallies for 5-4 Victory over GCMS

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- Jack Plunk completed a two-inning, five-run rally by the Knights with a two-RBI single in the seventh inning.

Down 4-0 heading into the sixth inning, Blue Ridge scored two runs in the sixth and three runs in the seventh inning for a 5-4 victory over the Falcons.

With the win, Blue Ridge improves to 5-6 overall and 1-2 in the Heart of Illinois Conference.


Blue Ridge Softball Loses to Regan Romshek, GCMS

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- This Heart of Illinois Conference matchup pitted two of Class 1A's best pitchers against each other: Blue Ridge's Jordan Wheeler vs. Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley's Regan Romshek.

Romshek won the battle, striking out eight Lady Knights batters in a complete-game shutout to lead the No. 13-ranked Falcons to a 2-0 victory over No. 7 Blue Ridge.

The Illinois State recruit allowed the Knights to get five hits and walked them only twice. GCMS got its two runs in the fourth and fifth innings.

On each occasion, the run came via two-out RBI with a runner on second base.

Wheeler finished the game throwing three strikeouts after getting 12 in each of her previous two starts. She allowed six Falcon hits and walked a batter three times, one of which resulted in the game's second run, to decrease her pitching record to 8-2.

Meanwhile, the Knights fall to 12-3 and 2-1 in the HOIC. They will play Tuesday at Deer Creek-Mackinaw.

Jade O'Neal and Melinda Wilson each recorded two of Blue Ridge's five hits, going 2-for-3 and 2-for-2 at the plate, respectively. Fones got the other hit for the Knights.

O'Neal's second hit occurred in the fourth inning. Chandler Morrow, who ran for O'Neal, ended up at third base and Wilson reached second base via sacrifice bunt by Hannah Mattingly.

But with two outs, Romshek struck out Jamison Brandt to end the inning.

In the fifth inning, the Knights once again had two runners in scoring position, as Elizabeth Cordes got on base with a walk and Fones got her only hit with an infield single. Fones and Cordes ended up on second and third base, respectively, when Marcie Crawford grounded out for the second out of the inning.

That gave Wheeler a chance to tie the game with a base hit. Instead, she swung and missed on a 2-2 pitch by Romshek to squander another scoring opportunity.

Wilson reached second base with two outs in the sixth inning. But Brandt grounded out, and Romshek retired the next three Blue Ridge batters to end the ballgame.


Chicago Blackhawks Clinch Playoff Spot: Thank the Wild, ---- the Can---s

With 12.1 left in regulation, the Minnesota Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored an empty-net goal to officially eliminate the Dallas Stars from playoff contention, as Minnesota beat Dallas in its season finale 5-3.

This sets up a matchup between the defending Stanley Cup champs (Chicago Blackhawks) and the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference (Vancouver Canucks).

Chicago beat Vancouver in the playoffs the past two years. But it will be difficult this time around without Dustin Byfuglien (or, as he is dubbed in some parts of Canada, Buffy the Canuck Slayer).

Plus, considering that they're the No. 1 seed, it's only fitting that the Canucks get a chance to eliminate their longtime tormentors in the first round.

Minnesota Wild 4, Dallas Stars 3

Antti Miettinen scored an unassisted, go-ahead goal for the Wild with 13:13 left in regulation.

Dallas Stars 3, Minnesota Wild 3: End of Second Period

With 1:43 left in the second period, Alex Goligoski scored on a 5-on-3 power play to tie the game for Dallas.

The goal was unassisted. Both teams will start the third period at even strength.

The Stars have out-shot the Wild 18-17.

Minnesota Wild 3, Dallas Stars 2

Colton Gillies scored to give the Wild the lead 8:07 left in the second period.

The goal was assisted by Chuck Kobasew and Kyle Brodziak.

Dallas Stars 2, Minnesota Wild 2

Jared Spurgeon scored on a power-play goal with 12:41 left in the second period to tie the game for the Wild.

Andrew Brunette was credited with the assist on the goal.

Dallas Stars 2, Minnesota Wild 1: End of First Period

At this pace, it looks like Dallas will swipe the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference from the Blackhawks.

At this point, the Stars have out-shot the Wild 16-9, but an early shot by Minnesota would have given a home team an early lead. It looked like Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen was in a bad position for that shot.

But Lehtonen made the save, and that could have been the stop that saved the Stars' season.

Charl Schwartzel Wins Masters

Tiger Woods finished in a tie for fourth place, four shots behind Schwartzel.

Dallas Stars 2, Minnesota Wild 1

Loui Eriksson scored a power-play goal to give the Stars a 2-1 lead with 3:53 left in the first period.

The goal was unassisted.

Dallas Stars 1, Minnesota Wild 1

Brad Richards scored to tie the game with 7:32 left in the first period.

Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn were credited with the assist.

Minnesota Wild 1, Dallas Stars 0

Brad Staubitz scored off a rebound to give the Wild the initial lead 6:05 into the game.

By the way, there are a couple of corrections I need to make from my previous post. For one thing, Martin Havlat isn't playing for Minnesota; he has an upper-body injury.

Secondly, the Dallas Stars need to win in regulation or in the overtime period to get into the playoffs. A shootout win won't help them.

Chicago Blackhawks Need Help from Martin Havlat, Minnesota Wild

Pop quiz: Who was the Blackhawks' points leader in 2008-09?

If you guessed Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane, you made a good guess. But you're wrong.

It was Martin Havlat, who joined the Minnesota Wild the following season.

Chicago just lost its regular-season finale against the Detroit Red Wings. That means the Dallas Stars can eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champs from the playoffs with a win.

Who do the Stars play? You guessed it: the Wild.

So if Havlat helps Minnesota prevent Dallas from getting its much-needed two points, he will be a valuable player to the Blackhawks once again.

The Stars vs. Wild game is on NHL Network at 5 p.m. CST. If you do not have NHL Network, you can check out the Sports Thread for updates.


Farmer City Raceway Opens with Spring Extravaganza; Dave Crawley Jr., Travis Johnson among Winners

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- Many wondered if this season would come.

But thanks to the efforts of Clinton's Jeff Hammer and the Decatur area's Kyle Logue, Farmer City Raceway kicked off its 2011 season Friday.


Ryan Guyett started off in second place before beating out pole-position holder Randy Brown.

Guyett took the second heat. After starting out the first heat in fourth place, Brown beat Phil Pickett to the checkered flag.


1. Ryan Guyett; 2. Randy Brown; 3. Jack Newman; 4. Jordan Campbell; 5. Phil Pickett; 6. Levi Curry; 7. Jeff Armstrong; 8. Luke Vaughn; 9. Jeff Wiggs; 10. Max Pozsgai, DNF; 11. Andy Bough, DNS.


Brian Shirley of Chatham started the feature in the pole position after winning the first heat. And at the time he reached the finish line, he kept his lead.

Farmer City's own Curtis Hobbs finished sixth in the second semi-feature after finishing in the No. 8 position in the fourth heat.


1. Brian Shirley (Chatham, Ill.); 2. Frank Heckenhast Jr. (University, Ill.); 3. Mike Spatola (Manhattan, Ill.); 4. Eric Smith (Shirley, Ill.); 5. Brandon Sheppard (New Berlin, Ill.); 6. Ryan Unzicker (El Paso, Ill.); 7. Bret Sievert (New Berlin, Wis.); 8. Roger Brickler (Springfield, Ill.); 9. Donny Walden (Towanda, Ill.); 10. Brian Diveley (Springfield, Ill.); 11. Steve Thorsten (Clebanse, Ill.); 12. Derek Chandler (Pontiac, Ill.); 13. Jimmy Dehm (Lexington, Ill.); 14. Corey Daughtery; 15. Bobby Pierce (Oakwood, Ill.); 16. Kevin Weaver (Gibson City, Ill.) DNF; 17. Brandon Thirlby (Traverse City, Mich.) DNF; 18. Kerry Matthew (Rensselaer, Ind.) DNF; 19. Jason Feger (Bloomington, Ill.) DNF; 20. Craig Smith (Godfrey, Ill.) DNF.

Semi Feature 2

1. Jimmy Dehm; 2. Craig Smith; 3. Charlie Hess (Peoria, Ill.); 4. Jon Rogers (German Valley, Ill.); 5. Bill Giannetti (Champaign, Ill.); 6. Curtis Hobbs (Farmer City, Ill.); 7. Bill Hough; 8. Ethan Schnapp (Springfield, Ill.) DNS.

Semi Feature 1

1. Brandon Thirlby; 2. Jason Feger; 3. Scott Schmitt (Tonica, Ill.); 4. Russ Adams (Princeville, Ill.); 5. Jay Morris; 6. Torin Mettlle; 7. Rodney Hamblin; 8. Chris Dick (DeLand, Ill.) DNF; 9. Kent Robinson (Bloomington, Ind.) DNS. 


After starting off No. 4 in the feature, Jay Ledford of Pontiac beat out Nick Allen, who started in the pole position after winning the first heat.

Ledford finished second in the same heat.


1. Jay Ledford (Pontiac, Ill.); 2. Nick Allen; 3. Jeff Leka (Buffalo, Ill.); 4. Jamie Lomax; 5. Lance Dehm (Chatsworth, Ill.); 6. Ryan Cary (Catlin, Ill.); 7. Mark Tullis; 8. Eric Bruce; 9. Steve Brooks; 10. Steve Ewing (Decatur, Ill.); 11. Justin Delong (Bloomington, Ill.) 12. Justin Leka (Buffalo, Ill.); 13. Don Kiger (Oakwood, Ill.); 14. Dane Tilstra; 15. David Henderson; 16. Mckay Wenger (Fairbury, Ill.) DNF; 17. Justin McCoy (Streator, Ill.) DNF; 18. Ben Hulse (Flanagan, Ill.) DNF; 19. Vince Cooper, DNF; 20. Phil Line, DNF.

Semi Feature

1. Justin Delong; 2. Steve Brooks; 3. Ben Hulse; 4. Phil Line; 5. Don Kiger; 6. Jeff Sandford; 7. Tim Bohm; 8. Chevy Miller, DNF; 9. Nick Wallrich, DNF; 10. Rick Hamilton (Decatur, Ill.) DNS; 11. Jeremy Nichols (Decatur, Ill.) DNS.


Travis Johnson of Ashland won the second heat to earn the No. 2 starting spot in the feature. He beat Brian Cassell, who got the pole after winning the first heat, to the checkered flag.

Farmer City native Jim Quinn took seventh place in the feature after taking third in the first heat.

From Clinton, Rick Alwood took fourth place in the feature after getting second place in the first heat. Travis Thrasher finished 13th after taking the No. 5 spot in the second heat.


1. Travis Johnson (Ashland, Ill.); 2. Brian Cassell; 3. Jeff Semmons (Pontiac, Ill.); 4. Rick Alwood (Clinton, Ill.); 5. Joe Brown; 6. Travis Wolford; 7. Jim Quinn (Farmer City, Ill.); 8. Jesse Simmons (Danville, Ill.); 9. Nathan McNeese; 10. Brandon Roundtree; 11. Eric Wilson (Downs, Ill.); 12. Greg Brewer (Bement, Ill.); 13. Travis Thrasher (Clinton, Ill.); 14. Ronnie Burns; 15. Donnie Rhoades, DNS; 16. Tom Gregg (Decatur, Ill.) DNS.


Casey Gernantz started the feature in the No. 5 position after finishing third in the first heat. He finished first ahead of Decatur native Joe Reed, who won the pole position after taking the second heat.

Mansfield native Chris Burton finished seventh in the feature. He finished No. 2 in the second heat.


1. Casey Gernantz; 2. Joe Reed (Decatur, Ill.); 3. Ben Gernentz; 4. Larry Hawk (Champaign, Ill.); 5. Matt Maier (Rantoul, Ill.); 6. Dion Smith; 7. Chris Burton (Mansfield, Ill.); 8. David Lauritson (Normal, Ill.); 9. Brian Wilson (Colfax, Ill.); 10. Zach Perryman; 11. Greg Tuttle (Gridley, Ill.); 12. Trisha Burton; 13. Jim Wilson (Towanda, Ill.) DNF; 14. Jeremy Reed (Decatur, Ill.) DNF.


Dave Crawley Jr. of Decatur took the pole position after winning the second heat. He beat Daniel Flessner, who started second after finishing in the No. 2 spot in the first heat, to the finish line.

Mansfield native Rod Rusher finished 13th in the feature after taking the No. 6 spot in the first heat.


1. Dave Crawley Jr. (Decatur, Ill.); 2. Daniel Flessner; 3. Nick Macklin (Argenta, Ill.); 4. Dustin Mounce (Pontiac, Ill.); 5. Jason Maier (Thomasboro, Ill.); 6. Alan Crowder; 7. Dave Slade (Seymour, Ill.); 8. Tony Clinton; 9. Richie Rich, DNF; 10. Lance Johnson (Kenney, Ill.) DNF; 11. Donny Subion, DNF; 12. Mike Maestas (Lincoln, Ill.) DNF; 13. Rod Rusher (Mansfield, Ill.) DNS; 14. Darrel Dick (Monticello, Ill.) DNS.

Blue Ridge Sports Report -- 4/9/11


From Thursday
St. Thomas More Invitational

Girls' Results
1. St. Thomas More 170; 2. St. Joseph-Ogden 151; 3. Argenta-Oreana 80; 4. Tuscola 54; 5. Urbana Uni-High 53; 6. Paxton-Buckley-Loda 21; 7. Hoopeston 19; 8. Blue Ridge 7.


Blue Ridge at Sangamon Valley (cancelled)


Blue Ridge Softball Makes it a Dozen in the Win Column over Villa Grove

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- The Lady Knights improved their record to 12-2 by blowing out Villa Grove 15-3 in five innings.

Jordan Wheeler led Blue Ridge in the hitting category. She went 2-for-3 at the plate, hitting a home run and a double, batting in two runs and scoring two more.

Marcie Crawford batted 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs of her own. She was also the winning pitcher, increasing her record to 4-1 by striking out five batters and allowing no earned runs on six hits.

Jake O'Neal and Kalyn Reynolds each hit a home run for the Knights. Reynolds finished the game hitting 2-for-4 with three RBIs and two runs while O'Neal went 2-for-2 and batted in three runs as well.

Other Notable Blue Ridge Hitting Stats

Hannah Montgomery was 2-for-2, double, RBI, 2 runs.

Chandler Morrow was 1-for-1, RBI.

Paige Weidner was 1-for-2, RBI.

Blue Ridge Baseball Steals One from Aaron Ennis, Clinton with Big 7th Inning

CLINTON, Ill. -- The battle for DeWitt County bragging rights looked to be in the Clinton Maroons' hands, as they went into the seventh inning leading 4-1 over the Blue Ridge Knights from Farmer City.

Aaron Ennis went onto the mound having pitched six strong innings for Clinton, striking out 10 batters while allowing a run on only two hits.

Then it all fell apart for the Maroons. Two errors helped load the bases with only one out.

After striking out one batter, Ennis walked in two runs. Then Clinton gave up the lead with an bases-loaded infield single before Cale Robinson went to the mound in relief.

Then Blue Ridge scored four more insurance runs via two-RBI triple and two RBI singles. Although the Maroons scored two runs in their half of the seventh inning, it wasn't enough as the Knights walked out of Evans Field with a 9-6 victory.

Birk Kyle hit a double to right field to lead off a four-run third inning for Clinton. Marshall Sprague drove Kyle and Josh Merrick to home plate with a triple to break a scoreless tie.

Robinson batted in Sprague with a single in the next at-bat to make the score 3-0 in favor of Clinton. Robinson later scored to increase the Maroons' lead to four.

Robinson finished the game 2-for-4, hitting a double and scoring two runs. Kyle finished 2-for-4 with a double as well, and Sprague went 1-for-1 with two runs scored and two walks.

Blue Ridge broke Ennis' shutout bid in the sixth inning.


Edwin Jackson Sets Home-Opener Record for Chicago White Sox

The slogan for the Chicago White Sox is, "All In."

Judging from the first five games of the season, that means all of their eggs were going in the hitters' basket. Judging by the White Sox's 3-2 record in those games, going all in was not going to get them into the postseason.

Enter Edwin Jackson. In today's game against the Tampa Bay Rays, he set a Sox home-opener record by striking out 13 batters and allowing only one run on four hits in eight innings of pitching.

This performance, which led to the White Sox's 5-1 victory, proves that Chicago can win in this "All In" season, whether they were playing in a slugfest or not. The South Siders can win if their highly-touted pitching rotation performs to its abilities.

Now if the bullpen can learn to avoid any destructive performances, Chicago will be going "All In" well into October. 


Jordan Wheeler, Blue Ridge Softball Wins Conference Game over Fisher

FARMER CITY, Ill. -- The pitching arm of Jordan Wheeler and the big bats of Kalyn Reynolds and Marcie Crawford led the Lady Knights to a 6-0 victory over the Fisher Bunnies.

Less than 24 hours after Wheeler threw 12 strikeouts in a nine-inning pitching performance in Monticello, she struck out a dozen Fisher batters and allowed only two hits and one walk in a complete-game shutout. Her pitching record is now 8-1 on the season.

In the first two innings, the Bunnies put a runner on first and second base. But Wheeler struck out two batters in each inning to get out of the jam.

From there, it was all Blue Ridge. In the third inning, Crawford hit a two-out single to drive in Reynolds, who scored from second base after hitting a double, for what would be the game-winning run.

In the fourth inning, Reynolds smacked a pitch past the left-field fence for a two-run home run to give the Knights a 3-0 lead. Hannah Mattingly scored from first base on the homer.

In the sixth inning, Crawford put the game out of reach with a two-run dinger of her own, driving Reynolds to home plate from first base. Wheeler followed that with a home run in the next at-bat.

Reynolds finished the game batting 3-for-3 at the plate and scoring three runs. Crawford went 2-for-4 with three RBIs while Wheeler finished 2-for-2 with a double and two walks to go with her homer.

With the win, Blue Ridge improves its record to 11-2 overall and 2-0 in the Heart of Illinois Conference. They will hit the Weedman Park diamond Thursday, as they face Villa Grove at 4:30 p.m.

Other Notable Blue Ridge Batters

Jordyn Fones -- 2-for-4, double.


Michigan's Fab Five: What If Chris Webber Doesn't Call Timeout

In the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated, there is an article that presents an interesting alternate universe.

The article explains in full detail what the world would be like if Cubs fan Steve Bartman didn't interfere with Moises Alou on the foul ball in Game 6 of the National League Championship Series.

Spoiler alert: Barack Obama doesn't get elected president. You should read it.

With the NCAA men's basketball national championship game coming on tonight, I thought it would be appropriate to look back at the history of the Final Four and see where I could unleash a butterfly effect.

Then it hit me: What if Chris Webber didn't call timeout at the end of the 1993 title game, resulting in a technical foul because the Wolverines were out of timeouts?

What if, instead, Webber stepped behind the three-point line and sinked the game-winning shot?

Of course, Michigan's championship would have been vacated anyway due to NCAA violations. But when I really thought about it, the world (well, at least the basketball world) would be a little different if Webber didn't call timeout.

Referee Investigation

If Webber hit the game-winning shot in the final seconds, or if he made a game-tying one and Michigan won the game in overtime, some fans in North Carolina would be crying foul on the referees.

That's because Webber clearly traveled before bringing the basketball out of the backcourt. Because of the timeout, nobody remembers that.

However, if Michigan won the game, some may wonder if the referees were improperly influenced. Ed Martin did get caught paying some Wolverine basketball players (hence the NCAA violations); who's to say he didn't have enough money to pay off the zebras as well?

An investigation leads to better-policed referees in the future. The NBA wisely follows suit, preventing any Tim Donaghy-types from tainting the integrity of the game.

And, in an ironic twist of fate, the Webber-led Sacramento Kings win the 2002 Western Conference Finals in six games en route to an NBA title.

No Need for One-and-Done

But then again, the Kings may not have to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2002 playoffs.

Influenced by the Fab Five's success, high school stars such as Kobe Bryant, Kevin Garnett and LeBron James would want to play college ball for at least one year. So Bryant wouldn't have been acquired by the Shaq-led Lakers in 1996.

And LeBron's talents would have gone to Disney World, as the Orlando Magic draft him out of Ohio State with the No. 1 pick in the 2004 NBA Draft.


Chicago White Sox Cannot Depend on Offense

"If a baseball team scores more runs than the other team, it will win the ballgame."
-- Captain Obvious

In the White Sox's two victories, they combined to score 23 runs. In its loss today, they only scored one.

Obviously, Chicago is very reliant on scoring runs. It may be premature to judge how a team will fare three games into a regular season, but if the White Sox want to play more than 159 more games this season, the bullpen will need to step up.

Will Ohman, in particular. On opening day, he let the Cleveland Indians get back into striking distance after Chicago went ahead 14-0.

Today, he allowed the Tribe to score three runs in 1.1 innings. With the White Sox offense relatively absent, those runs put the game out of reach. 


VCU Can't Shaka the World; Butler May Be Starting a Duke-like Basketball Tradition

Remember a time when Duke wasn't seen as a basketball power?

A time when Mike Krzyzewski was a name no one could pronounce, let alone spell correctly?

It may have been a long time ago, but it existed.

Before Duke became a team everybody hated because it was a private school that won basketball championships, it had an unknown basketball program in the shadow of the University of North Carolina.

Like Duke, Butler is a private school. Like Coach K, Brad Stevens was an young, unknown coach when hired by the Bulldogs.

But now, Butler is going to its second consecutive national championship game. And like Duke, it is doing it without sacrificing its reputation for academics.

If, like VCU, you make a run toward a Final Four as a mid-major, it's a Cinderella story.

And for the Rams, it was a remarkable one. But when you do it in two straight years like Butler did, you may be building something special.

And, one day, hated.