Page Turner: 10th inning home run sends LSUS to World Series

THRILL OF VICTORY:  The LSUS Pilots celebrate their walk-off win Thursday at home sending them to the NAIA World Series. 

By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports

For almost 10 innings, LSUS senior Jaylin Turner didn’t do a whole lot in Thursday’s deciding game of the Shreveport Regional against Loyola (New Orleans). Basically, he just cheered for his teammates and maybe waved a towel or two.

And then he grabbed a bat and all that changed.

With one swing, Turner created one of the greatest moments in the Pilots’ athletic history.

Called on to pinch hit with two outs in the bottom of the 10th, the left-hander launched a ball well over the fence in right field to give LSUS a 9-7 win over the Wolf Pack at Pilot Field.

Greatest home run Turner has ever hit? “By far,” the 6-5 Georgia native said.

But it shouldn’t have come to anyone’s surprise. After all, Turner hit one in the seventh inning Wednesday in a game LSUS had to win in order to advance to Thursday’s regional-deciding contest.

“My teammates had been playing their behinds off all day,” Turner said. “If I hit it out, fine. If I don’t, I just needed to get on base. I was just trying to get something going.”

Instead of getting something going, he got something ending.

It was a nerve-racking game that was part of a nerve-racking week for LSUS, which came in as one of the top-ranked teams in the country but had to win four straight games after losing Monday’s opener (also to Loyola) to advance to the NAIA World Series in Lewiston, Idaho.

Turner’s home run came with two strikes. He might not have even had the chance if JJ Flores had not been hit by a pitch with two outs.

“To be honest with you, he (Turner) gets better the deeper he gets in the count,” said LSUS coach Brad Neffendorf. “He’s got really big power. That’s kind of what he does. He hit it out and we walked it off.”

It was a sudden end of a tense game throughout, one that saw the score tied three times in the late innings and featured multiple pitchers working on one day’s rest, two momentum-turning home runs – that corresponded with two major-league bat flips – and multiple ejections of coaches and fans.

Having played four games in three days, Neffendorf didn’t really have much of a pitching plan, other than to start Kevin Miranda and take it from there. It was obvious almost from the start that Miranda didn’t have his usual stuff, but that was to be expected since he was pitching on only one day’s rest. The most telling sign? He had walked only nine batters all year and walked one in the first and two more in the second. However, he did set the school record for strikeouts in the first inning.

After Loyola scored two in the first on back-to-back RBI singles, the Wolf Pack came right back with two more, scoring on a fumbled suicide bunt and an RBI single to center.

That marked the end of the day for Miranda and brought on Bobby Vath, another starter on short rest. Vath did a great job holding Loyola in check while the Pilots slowly overcame leaving men on base.

Allbry Major hit two homers, including one in the seventh that gave LSUS a 7-5 lead. But Loyola’s Cameron Trosclair matched him with his own two-run homer to tie the score again in the eighth, eventually sending it into extra innings.

Pilots reliever Brad White (8-0) denied any future threats by retiring all six batters he faced in the ninth and 10th innings.

Then Turner stepped into the batter’s box.

“It’s tough, but you have to have grit and determination,” he said. “If you want your boys to win, you got to come in and do the job.”

It’s the second straight year for the Pilots to reach the World Series and their fifth overall appearance.

“I’ve never been to Idaho,” Turner said. “It’s going to be one heck of a ride.”

It already has been.

Photos by JOHN JAMES MARSHALL


A lot of baseball, and a lot of heart

About the only thing missing was the 1 o’clock-in-the-morning starting game time and the hand-written bracket that looked like a step-ladder.

Otherwise, the Shreveport Regional of the 2022 NAIA baseball tournament had all the appearances of a 1980s weekend softball tournament. Double elimination, but if you lose early in the event, the deck is stacked against you. The only favorable option is to just keep playing and playing and playing.

And playing, which is what happened Thursday at Pilot Field, where LSUS finally got its collective head to sea level after threatening to drown all week.

Once it got to a game where there were no more options for either team, the Pilots felt like they were on even terms.

And they were actually on more even terms than many realize. This would be the fifth game in four days for LSUS, having to work its way through the loser’s bracket to get to the final matchup with Loyola (New Orleans).

But this was also Loyola’s fifth game in four days, since the Wolf Pack did not have the opening round bye that the Pilots did on Monday.

Just put it this way – it’s a lot of baseball for both teams.

You would have thought that the winner of this game would be the team less worn out than the other one. Sure, the pitching staffs were a little used up, but what was most impressive is how both teams took gut punches and responded.

LSUS coach Brad Neffendorf wasn’t about to go down without at least giving the ball to his two best pitchers – Kevin Miranda and Bobby Vath – who had combined for almost half of the team’s 50 wins.

“We just needed somebody to start it,” Nefferdorf said of Miranda. “And Vath kind of has a bullpen mentality on the mound.”

Loyola got ahead 4-0 but before the game could get away from them, the Pilots posted two runs with two outs on a bloop single to right and a wild pitch.

Not exactly a highlight video, but 4-2 was a whole lot better than 4-0.

The first of two home runs by Allbry Major tied it in the fourth, but Loyola came back to take the lead before LSUS came back again to tie it in the bottom of the sixth.

That led to two-run homers by both teams to keep it tied.

That’s responding with it all on the line. Neither team was going to lay down.

Neffendorf wasn’t surprised in the least because he’d seen it before.

On April 20, LSUS was down 5-3 to Southwestern Assemblies of God University going into the bottom of the ninth when pinch hitter Zyon Avery hit a two-out, two-run home run to send it into extra innings. The Pilots went on to win in 10 innings.

Thursday, a two-run home run by a pinch hitter (Jaylin Turner) with two outs won the game. Sound familiar?

And how about this? Turner was pinch hitting for … Zyon Avery.

“If we hadn’t gone through a game like that (in April), I don’t know,” Neffendorf said. “We’ve gone through a little bit of everything in the last few weeks. We just kept battling.”

Asked what won it for the Pilots, Neffendorf didn’t hesitate.

“It’s all about the players,” he added. “They’ve been resilient the whole year. What credit don’t they deserve?”


Centenary faces LaGrange College in first round of DIII championship

PRIMEAUX PERFORMANCE: Centenary pitcher Parker Primeaux and the Gents are in LaGrange, Georgia for the first round of the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship.

JOURNAL STAFF

Centenary is on the road this weekend in Georgia to face LaGrange College in the first game of its best-of-five series in the 2022 NCAA Division III Baseball Championship today at Cleaveland Field in Williamson Stadium.

The series begins today with a doubleheader between the Gents (27-16) and Panthers (37-6) at Noon Eastern time. The series continues Saturday with game three at noon Eastern and if necessary, game four will start 45 minutes following game three. If a game five is necessary, it will be played Sunday at noon Eastern time.

Centenary received an automatic bid to the championship after winning the Southern Collegiate Athletic Championship. It is the Gents second NCAA national tournament after making their first appearance in 2017.

LaGrange claimed its fifth straight USA South Athletic Conference title to make its sixth overall appearance. It is the first time a LaGrange College athletic team has hosted a NCAA event.

The national tournament field is made up of 60 teams playing in 14 four-team regions and two two-team regions. The 16 region winners advance to the Super Regionals.

Photo courtesy of Centenary


SPOTLIGHT: New football coach Scogin happy on Viking Drive

SETTING THE TONE: New Airline football coach Justin Scogin talks to the Vikings after spring practice ended this week with an intrasquad scrimmage.

By JERRY BYRD JR., Journal Sports

New Airline High School football coach Justin Scogin and LSU’s Brian Kelly have some things in common going into their first seasons. For starters, Scogin is taking a 1-0 record into year one on Viking Drive. The Vikings completed their spring practice on Tuesday night with an intrasquad scrimmage, like Kelly’s LSU team did.

For Scogin, it was nice to get on the turf and under the lights with his players and coaches for the first time. And it was a win, any way you measure it.

“It felt great,” Scogin said. “One, to be in the unbelievable stadium, one of the few places around with turf. Just to have the players and coaches out there playing football. It was good all the way around. Spring was a huge success for us.”

That is not where the comparisons between Kelly and Scogin end. Both will have some decisions to make during the fall when it’s time to decide on a starting quarterback.

Juniors Ladarius Epps and Preston Doerner, and sophomore Ben Taylor, have all impressed the head man when it comes to learning Scogin’s offense, especially considering there were only nine spring practices. 

“All three are really smart,” Scogin said. “All three are fun to be around. The quarterback position is wide open.”

But that is where the comparisons with LSU’s Kelly end, as far as Scogin is concerned. 

“Bo did a really good job establishing the culture here,” Scogin said of former Airline head coach Bo Meeks, who had been in the position for 11 years. “I’d hate to be a college coach and have to go in and establish the culture. You have to deal with the transfer portal and NIL. It’s a disaster.”

After Meeks stepped away, Scogin was hired on Friday, March 25 by Airline principal Justin James. And while he wanted the job that he calls “one of the best situations in the state,” he took a wait-and-see approach after his interview.

“In my experience, you never apply for a job and feel like without a shadow of doubt that you’re the guy,” Scogin said. “I thought with the situation Airline has here that Les Miles or Ed Orgeron may apply. I thought I had a 50/50 shot to get it. During the process, I didn’t hear any names of other candidates. After I was hired, I heard some names that applied and know they would have been good choices. I just feel lucky to be the guy who was selected.”

The skill of the athletes, the number of athletes in the school, and the facilities are the three reasons Scogin believes the Airline job is among the best in Louisiana.

“I was at Parkway for several years,” Scogin said. “I know the kind of athletes they have here. They also have 2,000 kids in the school. There aren’t many high schools in Louisiana that can say that. Finally, their commitment to improving athletic facilities here has been second to none.”

During Scogins’ time at Parkway, he met some Airline assistant coaches, who he held in high regard. He correctly believed taking the Vikings’ helm would be a tuneup, not a rebuild, and he would not have to clean house with an entirely new staff.

Scogin received the job offer from James at 3 on a Friday afternoon. In the next hour, his first as the Vikings’ head man, he reached out to the middle school coaches at Cope and Greenacres.

“It was that important to me,” Scogin said. “I have sat down with them (since). I want to be visible. I want those kids to come to our games on Friday nights. I want them to grow up wanting to wear the navy and columbia blue.” 

Scogin has brought in Zack Pourciau, who will serve as the defensive coordinator, and Logan Kreyenbuhl for his staff. Pourciau came from Pineville, where he served in the same position, and Kreyenbuhl came with Scogin from Leesville.

“(Pourciau) was good with taking lesser skilled guys at Pineville and making it tough for you to move the ball against them,” Scogin said. “He was a long shot for me to get. There were two that I wanted. Zack was 1A for me.

“(Kreyenbuhl) is a high energy guy and will assume the role that I had at Leesville,” Scogin said of Kreyenbuhl, who will coach wide receivers. “He brings a certain energy with him that will benefit our kids.” 

With his first spring finished, Scogin and the Vikings turn their attention to summer, when they will play as much 7-on-7 as they can.

“I think it’s important to build that team chemistry,” Scogin said. “We are going to compete every day. Of course, we’re going to lift and get on the track and run. We’re just going to continue to move in the direction we want on both sides of the ball.”

The only drawback in the first month and half?

“That’s easy,” Scogin said. “Being here with my family being in Leesville. That’s been brutal…on me.”

The Scogin family will soon be reunited for summer, while the Airline family has found their man to lead the football program.  

Photo by SETH STOWELL


Mavericks’ home weekend features Saturday showdown with Enid

BATTLE FOR THE TITLE:  The Shreveport Mavericks begin their last regular-season homestand tonight, but Saturday’s contest with Enid is the main attraction, matching division-leading teams.

JOURNAL SPORTS

With only a couple of weekends left in The Basketball League’s Central Division schedule, it’s simple to circle Saturday night as the “Game of the Year” in the loop.

The Shreveport Mavericks and the Enid (Okla.) Outlaws lead the Central with 17-3 records. They meet Saturday night at 7:05 in the Gold Dome on the Centenary campus.

There’s a tuneup required, however, with a matchup tonight at 7:05 against the woeful Waco Royals (1-17) starting the SMavs’ last regular-season homestand.

Shreveport has an eight-game win streak after trouncing Sugar Land and Beaumont in a Texas swing last weekend. Barring an upset of epic proportions Friday night, Saturday’s game shapes up as the decisive contest to settle the regular-season division title and the top seeding for TBL playoffs.

The Mavericks enter tonight’s game 5-0 all-time against Waco, including a 138-93 rout in Texas on May 7. Ruston Hayward leads the Royals with 24.5 points per game.

Saturday will be the first time the Outlaws have played the Mavericks this season. Ricardo Artis II guides the Outlaws with 19.6 points per game. Daylon Guy ranks second on the Outlaws with 19.5 points per game and leads the team in assists with 8.3 per game.

The Mavericks will host their final game day youth clinic on Saturday. For more information contact Cedric Ellis at (318) 840-4629.


Tennis around the clock? 40 years ago, it happened here

Forty years ago, a couple of local tennis pros were kicking around an idea. Seems some guys in Oklahoma had set the Guinness Book of World Records for playing doubles for 87 hours in order to raise money for a worthy cause.

“Wanna try?” said Chris Brown.

Brown, then the head pro at Pierremont Tennis Club, was posing the question to assistant pro Jimmy Livesay, who already had the right cause in mind.

“This was back when Centenary (College) was getting ready to build the tennis courts,” says Livesay, now the head pro and owner of Indoors Racket Club. “My brother was playing at Centenary and so was Joe Prather. What a great cause. We could try to break the record and raise money for the Centenary tennis courts.”

And so the challenge was on. Brown and Livesay got in touch with fellow local pros Stuart Bunn (East Ridge Country Club) and Marvin Street (Shreveport Country Club) to find out if they were interested in the idea.

It wasn’t long before the four guys had come up with the idea – the Tennis Marathon would be held over Memorial Day weekend and consist of “3 Days and 18 Hours of Non-Stop Tennis.”

On May 27, 1982, at 6 p.m., the four pros started the marathon doubles match at Pierremont Oaks with the goal of breaking the record on May 31 at noon.

People pledged money for certain amounts of time with all proceeds to benefit the Shreveport Metropolitan Tennis Association and the Centenary Tennis Complex Project.

“We set the goal for 90 hours,” recalls Livesay, “and we did it. Three days of non-stop tennis.”

According to the rules set by Guinness, the foursome would get a five-minute break for every hour they played so they’d play for 12 straight hours and got to take an hour break. Cots were set up in the locker room but the pros were too amped up to sleep.

“At one point, Chris just stood there (on the court),” says Livesay. “He was just looking straight ahead and wasn’t saying anything. Then we figured out he had fallen asleep standing up.”

Sleep deprivation was a common consequence. At one point, local pro Lance Dreyer saw Marvin Street wandering in the parking lot and asked what he was doing. “I’ve got to play in the marathon,” answered Street.

Medical personnel were on standby for any emergencies, there was a masseuse on hand, and there were always people in the stands watching – sometimes more than others.

“The worst time was about two in the morning,” says Livesay, “and early mornings were tough.”

When it started raining, the foursome would run over to the indoor courts and keep playing until they could resume outside.

And so it went, on and on. “Even in those last hours, we played some pretty good tennis,” remembers Livesay. By the time Monday rolled around, Pierremont Oaks was packed with people. Radio stations and TV stations were on site to capture the world record.

“We felt like big celebrities,” says Livesay. “It was so cool.”

Not only had the local pros broken the record, they had also raised over $10,000 for local tennis to help in the construction of the Centenary Tennis Complex.

My, how times have changed. According to Livesay, those tennis courts for which they raised the money to build will soon be torn down. Brown and Bunn have retired from tennis and moved away. After serving as the pro at Querbes Tennis Center for years, Street has also retired.

So, no rematch? “No way,” says Livesay, who underwent his second knee surgery six weeks ago. “But we had a blast. It’s just hard to believe that was 40 years ago.”


Junior City Amateur tourney this weekend

ON THE BIG STAGE:  Benton’s Noah McWilliams advanced to the next qualifying stage for the 122nd U.S. Open Championship when he shot a 5-under 67 at the Anna, Texas, qualifying event earlier this week.

By HARRIET PROTHRO PENROD, Journal Sports

If you’re wanting to play in the 2022 City Amateur Golf Championship next month, you’ve got an opportunity to qualify this weekend.

The Greater Shreveport Medal Play and Junior Championships will be held this Saturday and Sunday at Huntington Park Golf Course. The lowest two-round total by a junior golfer (high school age or younger) will be the 2022 Junior City Amateur Champion.

The junior golfers will also be in contention for the City Am Championship, which will take place at Huntington Park June 17-19. They will play from the same tees as those individuals in their respective flight. The first- and second-place junior golfer will be the 3 and 4 seed in the match play championship in June.

The top 15 scores from the (first round) Medal Play Tournament this weekend will automatically be placed in the City Am.

Deadline for entering this weekend’s Medal Play and Junior Championships, which is open to all male amateur golfers, is 5 p.m. today. The $100 entry fee covers a practice round green fee, tournament green fees, carts, lunch Saturday and prizes. Tee times will be Saturday a.m. and Sunday p.m.

Registration forms can be picked up at Huntington Park. For more information, call 318-673-7765.

Golfers can also qualify for next month’s City Am on the set qualifying days of June 4-5, or June 11-12. Tee times and pairings will be assigned at the golf shop. Amateurs not wanting to play in the Championship Flight do not have to qualify. Just turn in your entry form with the USGA Handicap and the tournament officials will flight you.

If you do not have a USGA Handicap, you will have to qualify by playing in this weekend’s Medal Play Championship or by playing The City Am Qualifying round.

McWilliams moves on — If Benton’s Noah McWilliams were in town this weekend, he would probably be playing in the Medal Play and Junior Championships. Instead, he’ll be in Dallas playing some practice rounds in preparation for the next stage in qualifying for the 122nd U.S. Open Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Mass., June 16-19.

McWilliams, the 2021 LGA Player of the Year, shot a 5-under 67 to finish in a tie for fourth place at the local qualifying event held earlier this week at Hurricane Creek Country Club in Anna, Texas. The top eight finishers out of the 132-player field moved on to the next stage of qualifying.

McWilliams — who was one only three amateurs to advance out of the Anna, Texas, event – will tee it up on Monday in the next qualifying stage that will be held at Lakewood Country Club and Royal Oaks Country Club in Dallas. Golfers will play 36 holes in one day at the two courses.

“I would have to play very well and probably shoot 10-under or so to make it,” said McWilliams, “because it will mostly be pros there.”

Local qualifying, conducted over 18 holes at 109 sites in the United States and Canada, takes place between April 23-May23. Those who advance out of local qualifying will join a group of locally exempt players in the final qualifying. A total of 8,880 players are competing for 530 final qualifying spots.

Photo by JOHN PENROD


Demons open Southland tourney as other leagues finish regular season

SLC SAVVY:  Former player Bobby Barbier, in his sixth season as Northwestern State’s head coach, is hoping his Demons can win their second Southland Conference Tournament under his guidance. NSU opens play this afternoon in Lake Charles.

JOURNAL SPORTS

LAKE CHARLES – A new format for the Southland Conference Baseball Tournament awaits Northwestern State on Thursday.

The venue, however, will be familiar one.

For the second time in less than two weeks, the Demons travel to Joe Miller Ballpark on McNeese’s campus, this time to start bracket play in a two-week-long conference tournament. The fifth-seeded Demons (25-27) face No. 4 seed Nicholls (25-23) in the opening game of the Lake Charles bracket of the tournament at 1 p.m.

The winners of the four-team brackets (the other pod is in Hammond, hosted by Southeastern Louisiana) will meet May 26-28 at the home of the best remaining seed to determine the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. McNeese won the regular season crown in a wild scramble and SLU was second, earning the home field advantages.

Tournament games can be seen on ESPN+. Both Northwestern and Nicholls finished 12-12 in conference games. The Colonels won the regular-season series 2-1 April 14-16.

The location is a plus for coach Bobby Barbier’s Demons, who won two of three high-scoring games at McNeese from May 6-8.

“It’s good for us, being familiar with the field,” Barbier said. “Sometimes, when you go to a place you’ve seen, you’re comfortable. You’ve seen how the ball flies. For our pitchers, those turf mounds can be tough. They’ve been on them. I think (playing there) can be an advantage for us.”

Perhaps no group is looking forward to a return trip to Lake Charles more than the Demon offense.

Northwestern State homered seven times in three games against the Cowboys, part of a season in which the Demons have already tied their high-water mark for home runs in the six-year Barbier era with 50. Beginning with their May 6 win against the Cowboys, the Demons hit 15 home runs in their final eight regular-season games, including two Tuesday night at LSU.

“Any of these eight teams can come out with a championship,” said Barbier. “We had six teams in contention for the league title the last weekend of the season. The team that plays most freely and easy and gets after it for a weekend gives themselves an opportunity to move forward.”

LOUISIANA TECH:  After a home sweep over Western Kentucky last weekend, Tech has risen in the Conference USA standings to second place, trailing Southern Miss by two games and in front of UTSA and Middle Tennessee by just one game. Beginning today in Charlotte, they’ll meet another hot team.

The Bulldogs (36-17, 18-9 C-USA) outscored WKU 34-8 in three games. Charlotte (34-18, 16-11) has won seven of its last eight, including an 8-3 win Tuesday at South Carolina.  The 49ers are 11-1 in their last four league series.

The series, with ESPN+ coverage, has 5 p.m. (CST) first pitches today and Friday with a noon getaway game Saturday in the final regular-season outings for both squads. Tech is currently a strong contender for an at-large NCAA Tournament invitation.

Taylor Young, Tech’s senior shortstop, leads the nation in runs scored with 75 and sits just eight runs shy of the program season record he set just one year ago. Sophomore center fielder Cole McConnell is eighth in the nation with 68 RBI.

LSU:  The Tigers (34-18, 14-13 SEC) are in Nashville to wrap up the Southeastern Conference regular season at Vanderbilt (35-16, 14-13). LSU is considered unlikely to host a regional unless the Tigers can win the series and make some noise in next week’s SEC Tournament, but there’s no doubt NCAA Tournament play is ahead.

This evening’s 7 o’clock game is on ESPN2. Friday’s 6 p.m. contest is on SEC Network+ and the series finale Saturday at 1 is on SEC Network.

GRAMBLING: The Tigers (22-27, 17-10) could get to 20 Southwestern Athletic Conference wins this weekend with a sweep at UAPB (13-33-1, 9-18), but it’s very unlikely that will be enough to win the Western Division crown. Southern (18-9 in the SWAC) plays pathetic Alcorn State (2-25).

In Pine Bluff, the opener is at 3 today. Friday’s game starts at 2 and Saturday’s finale is at 1.

ULM: The Warhawks host Arkansas State in a battle that could give the winner a spot in the 10-team Sun Belt Conference Tournament. ULM (16-34-1, 6-20-1) is in 11th place and Arkansas State (11-35, 5-21) is a game back. Games start at 6 tonight and Friday, and at 1 on Saturday in Monroe.

Photo by CHRIS REICH, Northwestern State


Road trip to Tensas doesn’t disappoint

Two years ago when I visited the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge in Madison Parish for the first time, I hoped to see a bear. It didn’t happen but I saw enough and triggered the interest in my wife sufficiently that she wanted to go see this remarkable place.

A year later, it all came together when we were invited by my friend and regular Tensas visitor, Dr. Terry Jones, for the trip over to tour the refuge which touches parts of three parishes, Madison, Tensas and Franklin.

This special part of our state has a fascinating history. Founded in 1980 to preserve one of the largest privately owned tracts of bottomland hardwoods remaining in the Mississippi River delta, the refuge encompasses some 80,000 acres of pure swampy bottomland hardwood majesty. This type of habitat once covered 25 million acres, the majority of which over the years was cleared to make way for farmland, the rich soils being the major attraction.

Today, these same rich soils support some 400 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish. The largest population of the threatened Louisiana black bears live here. Tantalizing too is the fact that the last verified sighting of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, now believed to be extinct, was in 1940 on the area that now makes up the Tensas National Wildlife Refuge.

With that bit of history laid out, now back to this past Monday when we drove over to see what Tensas would show us. She didn’t disappoint.

First, Jones led us to the check station where mandatory forms were completed so refuge managers can keep count of the number of visitors. Then we headed down Mill Road where Jones and I had seen alligators on our previous visit. While not as many as we had seen on our last visit, they were there; we watched five gators paddling easily over the waters of a borrow pit with the largest being maybe 10 feet long.

After photographing the alligators, we reversed course, drove back to the check station where Jones suggested I lead out on a slow drive down Quebec Road, telling us to keep an eye out for “critters.”

“We have sometimes seen bears along this drive,” Jones said as we motored away.

A mile or so down the road, something caught my eye. There was a bear in the roadside ditch maybe 10 feet from the car. She ascended the shallow bank and stopped next to a large tree. My wife and watched spellbound as two tiny bear cubs followed her up the bank. Our cameras and those of Jones, who had pulled to a stop behind me, were busy photographing the bear and her little ones.

They remained in the same spot as we drove off down the road talking about how fortunate we were to see such a sight. Turning around half an hour later and returning to the spot, lo and behold, the trio of bears was still there.

We got to watch one of the little guys climb a few yards up the tree for a better look, with our cameras snapping away and disrupting their afternoon of doing whatever they were doing when we spotted them.

Finally, mama bear had had enough of all the attention. She glared at us sitting in our vehicles 20 steps away from her, then rushed forward a few feet making a “huff, huff” sound.

We got the message. We had gotten to witness what we came to see and drove away leaving the bears to themselves but left with memories we won’t soon forget.


Tech’s Murphy struggles in final round of NCAA regional

CAPPING HIS COLLEGE DAYS:  Louisiana Tech’s Sam Murphy contended for a spot at the NCAA national championships, but faded from contention Wednesday at the regionals.

JOURNAL SPORTS

NORMAN, Okla. – Louisiana Tech golfer Sam Murphy faded from contention Wednesday and finished tied for 23rd in the 2022 NCAA Norman Regional, shooting a 76 (+4) to end the tournament at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.

Murphy had his toughest day in the closing round, carding a final 70-71-76 (217) three-round series in the regional. He notched just two birdies in his final round on a hot and humid afternoon. 

The front nine was a tough stretch for the fifth-year senior.  He was 4-over after seven holes, following a double bogey, and afterward managed only two birdies while picking up two more bogies.

Murphy played the last seven holes at -1 with the birdie coming on the 594-yard Par 5 No. 13 when he made it on the green in two after hitting his three-wood second shot 289 yards into the wind. 

“It was tough to watch Sam struggle,” said coach Matt Terry. “You are going to make mistakes and fail.  Other than a couple of shots early and one swing on the back nine, he hit it really well today. Overall, the tournament was fantastic for him.  He presented himself well on a national stage.”

Murphy was disappointed with the closing round but proud of being tied for eighth entering the final day, and his overall finish.

“I was not very good today.  I hit it about the same as I did yesterday, but I made some mistakes early,” he said. “I was too worried about what the end result was going to be instead of just hitting the shot.  It was good to learn from it.  I hated this round being the last of my college career.  Tying for 23rd in that kind of field is not terrible. All in all, it was a great experience.”

Photo by KANE McGUIRE, Louisiana Tech


TODAY’S SCHEDULE: LSUS, NSU in postseason action

Thursday

College Baseball

Grambling State at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 3 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at Charlotte, 5 p.m.
Arkansas State at ULM, 6 p.m.
LSU at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.

NAIA National Tournament

Loyola vs. LSUS, 11 a.m.

Southland Conference Tournament at Lake Charles

Northwestern State vs. Nicholls State, 1 p.m.

Friday

College Baseball

Grambling State at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 2 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at Charlotte, 5 p.m.
Arkansas State at ULM, 6 p.m.
LSU at Vanderbilt, 6 p.m.

Southland Conference Tournament at Lake Charles

Northwestern State vs. McNeese or UIW

NCAA Division III National Tournament

Centenary at LaGrange (Ga.), 10 a.m.

Note: The above schedule is subject to cancellations or reschedule


SPOTLIGHT: Haughton’s Anderson, Calvary’s Legg top SBJ All-Metro baseball team

JOURNAL STAFF

Haughton coach Glenn Maynor didn’t have to look far to find someone to fill the hole caused by graduation to his pitching staff. He had the perfect replacement ready to go in Austin Anderson.

“Last year he was strictly a reliever and he did a great job with that,” said Maynor. “This year, we needed him to start games and he accepted that challenge and did a great job.”

Anderson, a junior, was 9-2 with a 1.72 ERA for the Bucs with 77 strikeouts in 61 innings pitched. But he did more than that, which is why he is the Outstanding Player on The Journal’s 2022 All-Metro baseball team.

“Throughout district, he was our best hitter and best pitcher,” Maynor said. “Obviously, he meant a lot to our team. Especially in the second half of the year, he was crushing it.”

When he wasn’t pitching, Anderson played first base and batted .398 with 12 doubles, one home run and 30 RBI.

The Coach of the Year is Calvary’s Jason Legg, who led the Cavaliers to a Division IV state championship in his first year as head coach.

Legg put together a schedule for Calvary that had them prepared for the state championship run, playing 12 games against Class 5A teams (the Cavs were 6-6 in those games). In addition to tough competition, the Cavs overcame adversity: they lost two starters to injury during the season and had another starter knocked out of the state semifinal game.

“I thought when we started (the season) that we could do what we accomplished this year,” Legg said. “We signed up for rings in week one and that wasn’t just coachspeak. I really believed it.”

Also considered for Coach of the Year was Northwood’s Austin Alexander, who led the Falcons to their first quarterfinal appearance since 2005 with a team that featured three freshman pitchers.

Four Cavaliers join Legg on the All-Metro team – senior pitcher Blaine Rogers, senior designated hitter Cody VanNoppen, senior shortstop Caden Flowers and sophomore outfielder Aubrey Hermes.

Only half of the players on the 16-player team are seniors.

Eight Shreveport-Bossier coaches, along with two local baseball observers, were invited to nominate and participate in selecting the Journal All-Metro team. The team was limited to one player at each standard position, plus a pitching staff consisting of four starters and a relief pitcher. Two utility players were chosen, based on having split time as both a pitcher and a position player.

The “Best of the Rest” is for those who were given strong consideration for the first team. The 11 selections were not chosen by position.

2022 SBJ ALL-METRO BASEBALL TEAM

Catcher – Zach Schoenborn, Parkway (Jr.)

First Base – Patrick Snead, Byrd (Sr.)

Second Base – Blake Fant, Captain Shreve (Sr.)

Shortstop – Caden Flowers, Calvary (Sr.)

Third Base – Harrison Waxley, Airline (Sr.)

Outfield – Tucker McCabe, Northwood (So.)

Outfield – Aubrey Hermes, Calvary (So.)

Outfield – Colin Rains, Haughton (Jr.)

Designated Hitter – Cody VanNoppen, Calvary (Sr.)

Pitcher – Austin Anderson, Haughton (Jr.)

Pitcher – Sawyer Simmons, Benton (Jr.)

Pitcher – William Soignier, Loyola (Sr.)

Pitcher – Blaine Rogers, Calvary (Sr.)

Relief Pitcher – Cale Latimer, Benton (Jr.)

Utility – Cade Josting, Parkway (Sr.)

Utility – Jaxon Bentzler, Northwood (Fr.)

Outstanding Player – Austin Anderson, Haughton

Coach of the Year – Jason Legg, Calvary

BEST OF THE REST

Christian Blackmon, Northwood (Fr.)

Jack Carlisle, Northwood (Fr.)

Reagan Coyle, Loyola (Soph.)

David Favrot, Byrd (Sr.)

Peyton Fulghum, Evangel (So.)

Trenton Lape, Parkway (Jr.)

Kennon Lauterbach, Benton (Jr.)

Chan Lytle, Haughton (Sr.)

Mason Morgan, Airline (Jr.)

Davin Watkins, Southwood (Sr.)

Carter White, Airline (Soph.)


Lang’s Locks: Nice momentum entering PGA Championship

By ROY LANG III, Journal Sports

Another week, another profit. We’re on a nice roll (plus-8 units over the past month), and man we are so close to hitting a big win ticket (Hideki Matsuyama almost got us home last week).

As usual, we’re Top 20 heavy at the PGA Championship at Southern Hills, but we also hit the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Major League Baseball. 

Good luck!

Notes

All bets are measured in units. For instance, if your normal bet on a game is $100, that is one unit. If the bet is listed as .2 units, it’s a $20 bet.

Best line (as of Tuesday) is listed in parenthesis. Find the best price, one key to being a successful sports bettor! Shop around!

Sportsbook legend

CAE: Caesar’s

FD: Fan Duel

MGM: Bet MGM

DK: DraftKings

BS: Barstool

LANG’S LOCKS

Last week recap: Plus-.55 units

THIS WEEK’S SELECTIONS

PGA CHAMPIONSHIP

Win bets

Sebastien Munoz, .1 unit, +15000 (MGM)

Maverick McNealy, .1 unit, +16000 (FD)

Top 20 Bets

Lanto Griffin, .7 units, +900 (DK)

Si Woo Kim, .5 units +550, (DK)

Aaron Wise, .4 units +550 (DK)

Mito Pereira, .4 units, +470 (FD)

Dean Burmester, .3 units, +1400, (DK)

Cameron Davis, .3 units, +900 (DK)

Kramer Hickok, .3 units, +2000 (DK)

Carlos Ortiz, .3 units +1400 (DK)

Thomas Pieters, .3 units, +700 (FD)

Tom Hoge, .3 units, +500 (DK)

Brian Harman, .3 units, +550 (DK)

Rikuya Hoshino, .3 units, +1400 (DK)

Laurie Canter, .2 units, +2000 (DK)

Major League Baseball

Wednesday’s games

Cardinals-Mets, 1 unit, under 7 runs

NHL

Wednesday’s Games

Rangers, 1 unit, +145 (DK)

Oilers, 1 unit, +140 (DK)


Mangum, McCabe top All-District 1-4A baseball team

JOURNAL STAFF

District 1-4A coaches released their All-District team and North DeSoto pitcher Kam Mangum and Northwood outfielder Tucker McCabe were selected Most Valuable Players.

McCabe was a sophomore centerfielder that batted leadoff for a Northwood team that tied the school record for wins in a season in going 29-11. He hit .492 with 19 doubles, scored 50 runs, drove in 42 and stole 54 bases.

Mangum is a junior that helped the Griffins tie Northwood for the district title and finished the season 33-6 reaching the state semifinals. In the three district games he pitched he had 30 strikeouts in 21 innings, allowed 12 hits and had a 0.66 ERA.

Here is a complete list of the first team:

First team

Pitchers – Kam Mangum, North DeSoto, Jr.; Braden Richardson, North DeSoto, Jr.; Christian Blackmon, Northwood, Fr.; Jack Carlisle, Northwood, Fr.; Reid Wilson, Evangel, Jr.; Brody Bower, Minden, So.; Zach Chambers, Huntington, Jr.

Catchers – Robert Ashley, North DeSoto, Jr.; Brendan Burns, Northwood, Jr.; Andrew Cooper, Minden, Sr.

Infielders – Dalton Hill, North DeSoto, Sr.; Peyton Mathews, North DeSoto, Sr.; Luke Bloxom, Northwood, Jr.; Hutson Hearron, Northwood; Caleb Lennard, Evangel, Sr.; Peyton Fulghum, Evangel, So.

Outfielders – Sam Odom, North DeSoto, Jr.; Tucker McCabe, Northwood, So.; Kendall Flournoy, Northwood, Sr.; Brock Reedy, Evangel, Sr.; Kody Jackson, Minden, So.; Hayden Phipps, Northwood, So.

Utility – Landon Williams, North DeSoto, Sr.; Eli Morris, North DeSoto, Jr.; Landon LeBlanc, North DeSoto, Sr.; Jackson Bentzler, Northwood, Fr.; Ryan Gardner, Northwood, Sr.; Bryce Wilson, Evangel, Jr.; Brandon Winston, Minden, Jr.; Darien Spates, Huntington, Sr.

Designated Hitter – Cayne Little, Northwood, Jr.; Jace Gill, Evangel, Jr.

Co-MVPS – Kam Mangum, North DeSoto; Tucker McCabe, Northwood, So.


Tech’s Murphy challenging at NCAA Normal golf regional

BULLDOG MAKING BIRDIES: Sam Murphy is tied for eighth going into the final round of the NCAA Norman Regional, with a chance to advance to the NCAA Nationals.

JOURNAL SPORTS

 

NORMAN, Okla. – Louisiana Tech’s Sam Murphy shot in the red for a second consecutive day, firing a 70 (-2) in round two of the NCAA Norman Regional on Tuesday to move up 10 spots on the leaderboard into a tied for eighth at the Jimmie Austin OU Golf Club.

Murphy, who is now at -3 for the tournament, putting himself in position to qualify for the NCAA Nationals.  To do so, he needs to finish as the top overall individual on a team that does not finish in the top five. He is the only Bulldog in the regional field.

“He hit it really well today,” said Louisiana Tech coach Matt Terry. “There was an error here and there, but overall he had a great round.  He putted the ball really well.  The bounce-back eagle after the double and then the two bounce-back birdies after bogeys were great.  That shows a lot of maturity in his game and the way he is playing.  I look for more of the same tomorrow.  He just needs to keep giving himself plenty of chances and see what the day brings.”

Said Murphy:  “I hit the ball really well … made a couple simple mistakes that are easy to fix.  I rolled the ball really well and executed some quality golf shots.  The conditions were tough.  Starting out they were not too bad, but about halfway through the round the wind got up and made the round difficult to play.  It completely changed the whole golf course from yesterday.  For tomorrow, I hope to give myself as many opportunities as possible.”

After a birdie on the par-3 second hole, Murphy ran into trouble at No. 4, making a double bogey. 

However, the fifth-year senior responded as he did much of the day.  On the longest hole of the course, the 627-yard Par 5 No. 5, he got to within 13 yards after his second shot.  He followed that up by knocking in his chip for eagle to back to -1.

Murphy started the back nine with a bang by sinking back-to-back birdies, including his longest putt of the day, a 25-footer for birdie on the difficult 445-yard par 4 No. 11.

Photo by KANE MCGUIRE, Louisiana Tech


TODAY’S SCHEDULE: LSUS to play Lyon in NAIA tournament

Wednesday

College Baseball

NAIA National Tournament

Game 7 – Lyon vs. LSUS, 11 a.m.
Game 8 – Loyola vs. Game 7 winner, 2:30 p.m.

Thursday

College Baseball

Grambling State at Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 3 p.m.
Louisiana Tech at Charlotte, 5 p.m.
Arkansas State at ULM, 6 p.m.
LSU at Vanderbilt, 7 p.m.

NAIA National Tournament

Game 9 – Loyola vs. LSUS, 11 a.m. (if LSUS wins twice on Wednesday a game 9 would be necessary to determine who moves on to Super Regionals).

Southland Conference Tournament at Lake Charles

Northwestern State vs. Nicholls State

Note: The above schedule is subject to cancellations or reschedule


For decades, Hewlett has kept horses healthy at Louisiana Downs

AT THE START:  While keeping thoroughbreds healthy in over 40 years working as an equine  veterinarian at Louisiana Downs, Dr. Robert Hewlett has helped bring countless foals into the world.

By TONY TAGLAVORE, Journal Sports

The little boy growing up northwest of Waco, Texas, had no idea his love of riding horses would turn into a career of caring for horses.

“My grandparents were in the Hill Country — that’s where I was born — and I was riding horses when I was four and five years old,” Bobby Hewlett said. “My parents couldn’t wait to get away from the farm. My brother and I both went back to farms. We like farms. I liked horses. I used to run barrels and poles on them when I was four and five years old.”

“Bobby” is now 67 years old, and known as Dr. Robert Hewlett. An equine veterinarian, his job is the same as your doctor’s job. The only difference is, what Dr. Hewlett sees in his “office” has four legs, a tail, and a lot of teeth.

“It’s very rewarding for me and for my clients,” Dr. Hewlett said. “That’s what drives all of us as veterinarians — to provide the best care possible for our patients.”

In practice more than 40 years, Dr. Hewlett has treated horses at Louisiana Downs. But he mostly sees patients at two training centers in Benton. Long ago, horses brought the Texas A&M graduate to northwest Louisiana, and he hasn’t left.

“I was working in a practice in College Station, and one of my professors called me up and knew I was interested in working with horses and said, “There’s a man in Shreveport that wants a full-time veterinarian to take care of his (200) mares and (eight) stallions.”

That man was an oil man. But when the oil industry went bust, Dr. Hewlett was out of a job.

“I remember it well. (Oil) was $40 a barrel and it dropped to $8,” he said.

But Dr. Hewlett liked the area so much he stayed. He and his wife own Holly Hill Farm Equestrian Center on Old Plain Dealing Road in Benton.

“There’s something about the human-animal bond,” Dr. Hewlett said. “We have people come to our farm and they have thoroughbreds that are off the track. They just love to come brush — brush the horse. Get away from the real world.”

Dr. Hewlett says thoroughbreds are no different than any other horse when it comes to staying healthy.

“Good food. Good training. That all makes a huge difference. Exercise. Taking care of all their little physical ailments that can happen to any horse. Good legwork. Wrapping their legs and picking their feet. Shoeing them on time, not letting their feet get too long. Feed is important. They do get a bit nervous and upset sometimes. They can be a little bit finicky about their food. These are all little things, but easy to deal with. Very easy.”

But there are hard days for Dr. Hewlett—the days he has to put down a horse.

“It’s not easy at all. It’s not easy. Everybody is upset. Everybody. I’ve had people get so emotional that they just break down. It’s never easy to put any animal down … sometimes it has to be done. A horse can injure himself really easily. Or, they can be old, and you can see they’re not going to make a winter. It would be just terrible for them to get cold and die. It has to be done. It’s part of the job. Nobody likes it, though.”

Something like a broken leg can be painful and inconvenient for a person. For a horse, its life is likely over.

“There’s no blood supply,” Dr. Hewlett said. “All horses have these long, spindly legs. They break a bone — it’s too hard to immobilize them. A foal? I’ve seen them heal very nicely. But not an adult horse.”

According to Dr. Hewlett, thankfully, the number of horses dying because of injury is not what it used to be.

“It’s something that’s happening less and less on the racetrack. We’ve tightened up the rules for the safety of the horse. The AAEP (American Association of Equine Practitioners) is doing a wonderful job of taking care of the welfare of the horse. It is constantly being discussed, and new procedures are being addressed.”

During his career, Dr. Hewlett has seen horse care, and human care, intersect.

“We’re using regenerative medicines so much now. Not just steroids, which reduce inflammation and help pain. They put it in people all the time. But now, we’re using stem cells and platelets,” he said. “It has exploded in the last five or six years. I’m talking regenerative (medicines) that help repair body parts, cartilage, bone. All of that. It’s unreal.”

But what is real is Dr. Hewlett’s love and compassion for horses. Love and compassion which he found as a boy, and practices as a man.

MrMenu-MikeWhitler

Mr. Menu is an advertising company that produces in-house and take-home menus for locally owned restaurants statewide. The menus are full color, printed on heavy stock paper and provided to the restaurants at no charge. The menus cycle every three to four months and they allow advertisers to speak to the customers of popular locally owned restaurants.

Mike Whitler became the owner/operator of Mr. Menu in 2006, and has since grown the business to include dozens of menus and hundreds of advertisers across the state of Louisiana.


Region tournament loss ends BPCC softball season

JOURNAL STAFF

Bossier Parish Community College had another very successful softball season come to a screeching halt after losing in the Region XIV Conference Tournament Monday to Paris 5-2.

Paris used a four-run fourth inning and a solo home run in the seventh in building a 5-0 lead before BPCC could get on the board.

Haylee Ladner and Kennedy Cox were both 2-for-3 with a double and figured in the final two runs of the season for the Lady Cavaliers who finished at 42-12.

BPCC lost in the region tournament last season after a record breaking 46-8 overall mark.


Saving the best for last: Northwestern visits LSU tonight

HOPING TO BLOOM:  Dawson Flowers will get the start tonight for NSU as the Demons visit LSU to close their regular season.

JOURNAL SPORTS

BATON ROUGE – Although the Southland Conference Tournament is dead ahead, the Northwestern State baseball team plays its highest-profile game tonight.

The Demons visit LSU in NSU’s final regular-season  game at 6:30 p.m. at Alex Box Stadium, Skip Bertman Field. The contest will stream live on SEC Network Plus. Thursday, Northwestern opens the revamped Southland Conference Tournament in Lake Charles with a 1 p.m. matchup against Nicholls.

With Southland membership down to eight, the conference is conducting two four-team, double-elimination brackets this week at Lake Charles (regular-season champion McNeese hosting) and Hammond (home of second-place Southeastern Louisiana). The two surviving teams meet next weekend in a three-game series to determine the league’s NCAA Tournament representative.

Considering that high stakes competition less than 48 hours away from tonight’s first pitch, it’s virtually certain the Demons won’t use any of their top pitchers. They will hope to get the bats moving, and they definitely embrace the opportunity against LSU – a team that Northwestern has topped in the last two meetings.

“It’s always a good trip,” sixth-year Demons’ head coach Bobby Barbier said. “It’s a good trip to get better. It’s a good trip to play against a really good team. When you play those really good teams, the ball moves a little bit faster whether it’s on the ground or from the mound. It’s an opportunity to do that and, hopefully, get better going into the (conference) tournament.”

The Demons (25-26) have won their past two games against LSU (33-18) for the first time since taking two straight April 2-3, 1996.

In addition to facing a Power Five opponent for the first time since playing Nebraska on March 5, the game serves as a homecoming of sorts for several Demons, including senior center fielder Larson Fontenot and senior shortstop Cam Sibley.

Fontenot has been part of the back-to-back wins against the Tigers and was a member of the 2018 Demon team that was within two outs of eliminating the Tigers from the Corvallis Regional.

A season ago, Fontenot went 4-for-5 with a stolen base and an RBI as the Demons built a six-run lead in an eventual 7-3 win that came 28 miles from Fontenot’s hometown of St. Amant.

“It’s really nice going over there and playing at Alex Box, where you grew up watching them play,” Fontenot said. “It’s a good feeling to go play against them.”

Fontenot is not the only Demon from the Baton Rouge area who will play a short distance from home. Fellow senior shortstop Cam Sibley played his high school career at Dutchtown High School in suburban Geismar while outfielder Reese Lipoma is another St. Amant product. Pitcher Thomas Sotile (University High, Baton Rouge) and freshman infielder AJ Bailey (Zachary) also hail from greater Baton Rouge.

Sibley had to wait almost two years into his NSU career to face LSU after the Panola College transfer saw his first Demon season cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Demons’ 2020 date against LSU was set for April 28 before the pandemic shuttered the season 16 games into it.

“It’s fun to go down and play them,” said Sibley, one of eight seniors and nine Demons who will play their final regular-season game Tuesday. “They have such a great facility. The atmosphere is unmatched. It’s fun to go down there and show our skills against those guys. We just have to go down and play our game.”

Northwestern State will send right-hander Dawson Flowers (0-2, 4.88) to the mound while LSU, still ranked as high as No. 20 in three national polls despite being swept by Ole Miss over the weekend, didn’t designate its starting pitcher Monday.

Photo by CHRIS REICH, Northwestern State


NAIA Opening Round Shreveport Bracket schedule at LSUS

JOURNAL STAFF

LSUS is the host team for the opening round of the NAIA National Baseball Tournament. The Sports Commission of the Shreveport-Bossier Convention and Tourist Bureau and LSUS worked together to get the tournament located in Shreveport for the third time.

LSUS is the No. 1 team in the local opening round of games and has a 47-5 record. The rest of the teams in the tournament with their tournament (opening round) ranking and record are: No. 2 University of Science and Arts (Oklahoma), 35-13, No. 3 Lyon College (Arkansas) 36-20, No. 4 Loyola of New Orleans 33-22 and No. 5 Fisher (Massachusetts) 29-28.

Here is the schedule of games to be played at Pilot Field:

MONDAY

Gm. 1 – No. 4 Loyola (La.) vs. No. 5 Fisher (Mass.), 11 a.m.
Gm. 2 – No. 2 USAO (Okla.) vs. No.3 Lyon (Ark.), 2:30 p.m.
Gm. 3 – No. 1 LSUS vs. Gm. 1 winner, 6 p.m.

TUESDAY

Gm. 4 – Gm. 1 loser vs. Gm. 2 loser, 11 a.m.
Gm. 5 – Gm. 3 winner vs. Gm. 2 winner, 2:30 p.m.
Gm. 6 – Gm. 3 loser vs. Gm. 4 winner, 6 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

Gm. 7 – Gm. loser 5 vs. Gm. 6 winner, 11 a.m.
Gm. 8 – Gm. 5 winner vs. Gm. 7 winner, 2:30 p.m.

THURSDAY

Gm. 9 – If necessary, 11 a.m.