Column: Line Drives — Four years hold special memories

[This is my column in the June 30 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Four years.

Saturday marks four years as sports editor of The Commercial Review.

I didn’t expect to be here this long.

No, that’s not to say I don’t want to still be here — I do — nor am I on my way out the door.

If you don’t mind, I think I’m going to stay for a while longer.

I just never thought I’d hit four years.

I thought I’d put in a year or two and move on. It’s the epitome of small-town, community journalism — get a foot in the door, gain experience, go elsewhere.

But I don’t want to.

And I’m glad I haven’t.

It’d be hard for me to imagine not being around to see the culmination of the high school athletic careers of four local athletes.

Four years ago I came to Portland not knowing what I was getting myself into.

Four years later, the class of 2017 is the first group of student-athletes I’ve gotten to cover all the way through high school.

There are four in particular whose careers have stuck out the most.

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Column: Line Drives — Playing multiple sports is best

[This is my column in the July 30 issue of The Commercial Review.]

John Smoltz, one-third of arguably the best three-man pitching rotation in the history of Major League Baseball, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday.

During his speech, he touted those who helped him throughout his baseball career.
But he also had a message for young athletes and their parents regarding Tommy John surgery.

“It’s an epidemic,” said Smoltz, who to date is the only HOF member to have had the procedure. “It is something that is affecting our game. It is something that I thought would cost me my career.

“I want to encourage the families and parents that are out there to understand that this is not normal to have a surgery at 14 or 15 years old. You have time. Baseball is not a year-round sport. You have an opportunity to be athletic and play other sports.”

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Column: Line Drives — Changes coming for Jay sports

[This is my column in the April 30 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Change is on the horizon.

On Monday, the IHSAA will announce its new sectional alignments for the 2015-16 and 2016-17 school years.

While most may have hoped Jay County would drop to Class 3A in terms of boys and girls basketball, when the governing body announced enrollment numbers March 31 that was not the case.

Carmel, the largest school in the state, has an enrollment of 4,830. Jay County has 1,108 students.

Jay County is the third smallest school in 4A for boys and girls basketball. Only South Bend Washington (1,001) and Guerin Catholic (738) are smaller. Washington opted for a higher enrollment classification while Guerin Catholic, which won the Class 3A state championship in March, was bumped up to 4A because of the tournament success factor.

But change is still coming, as the Patriot baseball and softball teams dropped to 3A and will now be the biggest school in the class.

I’ve never been good at predicting the future. I’m in the wrong career if I was skillful at doing so.

I will try my best, however, to project what I think will be new sectional alignments for the Jay County baseball, softball, football and volleyball teams. I do not see the boys and girls hoops teams as well as both soccer squads changing.

The football and volleyball teams will have slight changes to their sectional opponents. The baseball and softball teams will have an entirely new lineup as they return to 3A for the first time since 2007. That is also the same year the JCHS baseball team won its last sectional championship.

So, here goes.
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Column: Line Drives — Weather not fit for the season

[This is my column in the April 24 issue of The Commercial Review.]

Wool socks, long sleeve t-shirt, gloves, jacket and a beanie.

Those items seem more fit to attend a sectional football game in late October or early November.

But that’s what one local sports editor — me — wore while covering a golf match Thursday.

It’s also what I should have worn at a baseball game Wednesday in Berne.

And it may be the new wardrobe for those attending prom this weekend.
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Column: Line Drives — It’s not time to give up yet

[This is my column in the Oct. 2 issue of The Commercial Review.]

There comes a time every year when I have to ask myself a few questions.

Was the pain worth it? Can I keep playing? And did I have fun?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no,” then I know it’s time to hang up the cleats.

For the better part of six years now, I’ve had to ask myself those questions at the end of every softball season.

I’ve been battling numerous injuries since 2008.

First, it was a left ankle sprain during the last game of the season. To this day, I still don’t have the full range of motion, and I have had it braced since I rolled it while trying to avoid a tag.

My throwing shoulder and elbow have been sore for quite some time, and all it takes is an awkward toss to remind myself they still hurt.

And in May, I sprained my right ankle — actually there is a good chance I broke it but my stubbornness kept me from going to the doctor — and I’ve been fighting through the pain every day since.

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Column: Line Drives — Jay County softball should be proud

[This is my column in the May 29 issue of The Commercial Review.]

There were plenty of sniffles and even a few tears when the Jay County softball team returned to the dugout following its post-game talk Tuesday.

It was the last time the best softball team in school history would be on the same field together.

Although the Patriots saw their season end prematurely, there are plenty of reasons for the girls to hold their heads high.

And they start with the 23-2 record.

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Column: Line Drives — Oddities make watching more fun

[This is my column in the May 15 issue of The Commercial Review.]

As the saying goes, you can watch baseball (or softball) every day and see something new each time.

Just this season, I’ve seen things I have never seen before — either as a player, as a fan or as a reporter.

Some of them are flukes, and others are just dominating performances at the plate or on the field.
At the very least, they’re impressive accomplishments.

The most recent is the 13 runs the Fort Recovery baseball team scored in the second inning Wednesday against Lincolnview to win the Division IV sectional title, 15-0.

I’ve been witness to some gaudy line scores in my time, but I have never seen 13 runs scored in one inning.

FRHS senior Blake Boughman hit two, two-RBI singles in the inning as the Indians batted around twice. Some players aren’t able to get three at bats in a game, and Kyle Schroer almost had three in one inning.

To put it lightly, it was an offensive show.

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