Monday, July 26, 2010

SEMO's seventh-place prediction means Samuel might need a miracle

Another season has delivered another disappointing outlook for Southeast football.

But don't be surprised if it's the last one with Tony Samuel's name beside it.

The Redhawks, coming off a 2-9 season with Samuel in charge, is tied for seventh place in the Ohio Valley Conference's preseason poll released today by the league. It's a step up from last season, when Southeast was predicted to finish last for the third time in four years. It hasn't been picked better than seventh in any of Samuel's five seasons.

The Redhawks might not find much momentum early in the season with a schedule that includes a trip to Ball State in in the opener and a game at SIU-Carbondale two weeks later. In between is a date at Murray State, one of the two teams Southeast defeated last season.

Southeast's two-win season — and some amount of progress on the field — helped convince new athletic director John Shafer to keep Samuel around for the final year of his contract. But with Samuel operating under a one-year microscope, the pressure is on for a breakthrough season. This year, for Samuel to be back for a sixth season, the progress has to lead to wins.

The OVC poll shows that few expect it to happen.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Zone tournament should be tough, even with smaller field

Missouri's eastern zone tournament is down to five teams this year, but don't let the smaller field fool you — this is one tough bunch.

Defending state champion Festus (20-3) heads up a solid field that sets out on the three-day schedule Friday. All games are at Capaha Park in Cape Girardeau.

This year's field — minus Perryville, which disbanded midway through the season — will play first-round games Friday, followed by one game Saturday and two Sunday, including the championship.

Behind Festus, Eureka (33-6) returns as a district champion after it finished second to Festus in last year's zone championship. Cape Girardeau (37-11) and Dunklin County (37-8) advanced from district 14, and American Veterans Post 67 advanced from its metro St. Louis district.

Friday's games feature Dunklin County vs. AmVets at 2 p.m., Cape Girardeau vs. Eureka at 5, and Festus vs. the Dunklin County-AmVets winner at 8.

Saturday features games at 2, 5 and 8 p.m. Sunday's games start at 2, followed by the championship at 5. A final if-necessary tie-breaker game could be played Monday.

Zone winners move on to the state championship in Sedalia next weekend.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Blake Dewitt's St. Louis weekend: 4-for-12, but no wins

It had to be a memorable weekend for Blake Dewitt, who returned home to play the Cardinals in a four-game series. It probably wasn't as fun for the Dodgers, who were swept in St. Louis in the stretch that started Thursday and ended Sunday.

Dewitt, playing in front of a big crowd of family and friends from Sikeston, his hometown, started all four games at second base. He was 1-for-3 with a double in Thursday's game, 0-1 for Friday, 2-for-4 with a double Saturday, and 1-for-4 Sunday.

In 73 games this season, he's batting .296.

It's the last time this season Dewitt will play on an MLB field close to home. The Dodgers come closest to Sikeston again Aug. 13-16 in a four-game series at Atlanta.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Rain stops district 13 games at Ste. Genevieve

Rain began midway through DeSoto's game against Rock Memorial on Thursday, pushing that game and the night's finale to Friday in the American Legion senior division district tournament at Ste. Genevieve.

DeSoto and Rock Memorial will resume at 5 p.m. Friday at Yanks Field, followed by Thursday's scheduled late game between top-seeded Festus and second-seeded Ste. Genevieve.

Those teams are the final four remaining in the tournament after Bonne Terre and House Springs were eliminated Wednesday.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Who is SEMO's real football expert? It could be worth $100

An item on our message board has all the info on the SemoSportsWeb high school football contest that starts up next month — it'll be worth $100 cash to the person who correctly picks the most football game winners through the 10-week regular season.

Click this link and get all the details on how to enter and what to do (it's simple, by the way). The season starts in a little more than a month, so the cutoff date will be that same week.

• Also in the forum are schedules for the district 13 American Legion senior division tournament at Ste. Genevieve's Yanks Field (it was scheduled to start Monday), along with the Senior Babe Ruth state tournament at Charleston (it starts Thursday). Click here for the games and times.

The schedule for the district 14 Legion tournament at Notre Dame High School should be coming out soon — final district games were played Sunday. The tournament begins Thursday.

• Local sports lost one of its biggest fans a few days ago when longtime sports reporter Warren Hayes died. Warren covered sports for several years at the Festus News-Democrat and Jefferson County Journal. Co-worker Dennis Barnidge has several fond memories of Warren in this Journal item last week.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

With limited field time, Festus has found solid footing

When district tournaments start next week for American Legion senior division teams across the state — including at Cape Girardeau and Ste. Genevieve — Festus might have the least amount of playing time of any of them.

Post 253 has played just 17 games out of a schedule that originally featured almost 30 dates. By the time the postseason starts Monday, Festus will have played no more than 21 games — and that's barring rain this week.

Scheduling problems started before the season even began for Festus. Coach Pat Bone said in a story in Tuesday's Jefferson Journal that the team's first eight games were cancelled while much of its roster was embarking on a state high school championship run at nearby Crystal City. Three games were lost to rain, and two were cancelled after district opponent Perryville dropped its senior division team in mid-June.

Even the team's own success has worked against it — after last year's state championship and national tournament appearance, Festus saw many old opponents drop off the radar.

"There were some teams that we have scheduled in the past that didn't want to play us this year, and that's unfortunate," Bone told the Journal. "I guess they just didn't want to come down, take a beating and go home. And that's OK. I have had down teams, and I've never turned down anybody. Cape Girardeau, Dunklin County, all those teams, they don't want to play us. And they have good teams this year. That's what I don't understand."

In spite of a shorter season, Festus went 11-0 in its district and will hold the top seed in next week's tournament at Ste. Genevieve. If it wins, it could face Cape Girardeau or Dunklin County, which are heavy favorites to reach their district tournament at Cape Girardeau.

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Clearwater senior takes his spot (several spots) in state record books

There's no doubt Clearwater senior Kendall Fay was a monster on local baseball fields the past few seasons. But a story published Sunday describes exactly how history will remember him.

Acording to Rob Tate's Daily American Republic story, Fay will appear 17 times in the new MSHSAA record book next season after an amazing finish to his high school career.

Unofficially, Fay tied for the state lead in home runs (12) during the spring season and in RBIs (54) during spring games. Although no group compiled a complete list of single-season leaders for the past season, so far it doesn't look like anybody in the state had more homers or RBIs than Fay this season.

And as a result of a big senior season, he'll be listed just behind state record-setters in 17 career categories in MSHSAA history. Those stats include only the spring season, even though Fay also plays during Clearwater's fall baseball season.

Although he didn't break the state record in those categories, he came closest in the runs-scored list — he will rank fourth all-time with 132, just 35 behind record-holders Jake Whitesides of Hickman and Blake DeWitt of Sikeston.

According to the DAR, Fay ranks sixth all-time in walks, sixth in on-base percentage, 11th in extra base hits, 13th in runs per game, 13th in total bases, 15th in hits, 16th in slugging percentage, 24th in at-bats, 27th in batting average, and 31st in doubles.

Fay has signed to play next season at Williams Baptist College.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Headlines don't lie — there's a lot of news around here

One of the great things about being an independently owned sports site: For change to happen, there aren't multiple layers of managers and tie-wearers who have to approve it.

Instead, we've brought back an old format — local sports headlines — based on growing need and requests from visitors to our site. Simple as that.

The growing list of headlines will stay near the top right corner of our home page. In that small corner is where we've posted a long list of exclusive news for almost three years, from coaching changes to athlete injuries to state and national championships (and then watched the local corporate media play catch-up).

The format was dropped in February, but the bottom line is that there's too much local sports news in our area (much of which isn't covered elsewhere) to not give it greater attention. And so we will.

And while we were making adjustments, the ESPN Bottom Line news ticker found a new home at the bottom of the page, and local bloggers moved across the page.

As always, ideas and suggestions are always welcome. Drop me an e-mail at

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Longtime Bootheel coach takes Portageville football job

Ronnie Jones will be back on a New Madrid County football field in the fall.

Jones, a longtime coach at nearby New Madrid County Central, will coach Portageville's varsity team this season. He fills the job left open by Lee Wallace, who recently resigned.

Jones coached at NMCC for 18 seasons starting in 1983, the third season for the new school's football program. He coached the team to 12 winning seasons, including 10-2 in 1999 and 9-1 in 2000. His teams reached the playoffs nine times.

He later coached at Kennett for two seasons (2003 and '04) and at Scott City for two seasons ('07 and '08) before retiring.

Wallace was Portageville's coach for three seasons and led the program's turnaround last year. After going 0-9 in both '07 and '08, the Bulldogs were 4-6 in 2009.

Portageville will open its season Aug. 28 against Caruthersville.