South Warren claims Region 4 baseball championship

The South Warren Spartans (22-13-1) beat Bowling Green 4-3 in the Region 4 tournament championship Wednesday at Nick Denes Field, claiming the region crown in their first appearance and second year of existence.

“I was very optimistic about what we could do in this game, but to beat them three times in a row, that’s a great accomplishment,” SWHS coach Chris Gage said. “The players played really well and played loose. They let it rip, and when they do that, they can play with anybody.”

The Spartans have won 12 games in a row, including three straight wins over No. 6 Bowling Green. They beat the Purples 4-3 last week for the District 14 title.

South Warren advances to the Kentucky National Insurance/KHSAA State Baseball Tournament, which begins Monday in Lexington.

The Spartans will play the Region 5 winner, either Central Hardin or LaRue County, at 10 a.m. Monday. The Region 5 title will be decided at 5:30 p.m. CDT Thursday.

It was a familiar feeling for Bowling Green, which lost in the region title game for the third time in four years. The Purples last won the region in 2007.

“That’s three out of four we’ve taken the silver trophy home, and we’ll figure out a way one day to get the gold one,” BG coach Dan Mosier said. “It was a great season, and I hope people don’t judge it solely on this game. … This team has been through a lot emotionally, and I told them it’s going to hurt for a while, but I’ve been doing this for 29 years, and the hurt goes away.”

SWHS senior pitcher Josh Barltey struck out seven batters in a complete-game effort, holding BG to six hits, two walks and three runs in seven innings.

Bowling Green started junior Tyler Kilgus, who was charged with two runs in the bottom of the first.

Junior third baseman Andrew Vanthournout drove in senior Jacob Boose with a sacrifice fly, and after senior Jacob Vaughan stole a vacant second base, sophomore shortstop Ty Pitts scored from third in the confusion to make it 2-0.

The Spartans plated two more runs in the third with RBI singles by Vaughan and senior first baseman Cole Dillard.

Bowling Green answered with a two-run single by sophomore designated hitter Seaton Shelton in the top of the fourth, and as they did in the district final, the Purples mounted a comeback effort in the seventh.

Senior center fielder Scooter Hollis scored on a fielder’s choice to make it 4-3, but that was all BG had in the tank.

Junior Ben Morrison pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings in relief for the Purples and gave up two hits and a walk. Senior third baseman Derick Brock added two hits and scored a run.

BGHS 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 – 3

SWHS 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 – 4

See Thursday’s Daily News for full coverage.

WKU baseball coach Matt Myers comments on local signees

The WKU baseball team has officially released information on its 16-player recruiting class, which includes four players from the Daily News’ coverage area.

Reporter Chad Bishop is meeting with coach Matt Myers today, but Myers released statements on each recruit through WKU. Here are his comments on the four local signees:

Josh Bartley | IF/RHP | South Warren HS | Bowling Green, Ky. | 5’10 175

Myers on Bartley: “Josh is a local talent that is a true two-way player that has a chance to help us right away on the mound. He throws three pitches for strikes and is very athletic. He is a left-handed hitter that can play three positions on the infield. He possesses the leadership qualities that we are looking for and is a great student and a great fit in our program.” 

Parker Cash | OF | Glasgow HS | Glasgow, Ky. | 6’0 170

Myers on Cash: “Parker is another big-time athlete. He was the quarterback on the football team and was one the top players on the Glasgow basketball team. He is a three-sport athlete that is another guy of high-character and a good student. He is going to be someone that will really impact our program.”

Trevor Lowe | RHP/OF | Warren Central HS | Bowling Green, Ky. | 5’10 180

Myers on Lowe: “Trevor is a homegrown product that is athletic and a two-way guy that can pitch and play the outfield. He is strong, with a good arm, and is going to be someone of high-character. We believe that his best days are ahead of him and we are looking for him to do big things very early in his career at WKU.”

Jackson Sowell | RHP | Bowling Green HS | Bowling Green, Ky. | 5’10 175

Myers on Sowell: “Jackson could have very easily been the best pitcher in all of Warren County this year. He is a winner that won a state championship in football and is tough and athletic. I love the way his arm works. He throws three pitches for strikes and will have a chance to make a major impact on this program.”

Dunbar junior Muhammad verbally commits to Lady Tops

Paul Laurence Dunbar junior guard Kierra Muhammad (right), shown here March 9 during the girls' state tournament, verbally committed Tuesday to the Western Kentucky women's basketball program. She's the first member of the Lady Toppers' 2013 recruiting class. (Joe Imel/Daily News)

Paul Laurence Dunbar junior guard Kierra Muhammad (right), shown here March 9 during the girls’ state tournament, verbally committed Tuesday to the Western Kentucky women’s basketball program. She’s the first member of the Lady Toppers’ 2013 recruiting class. (Joe Imel/Daily News)

The Lady Toppers have their first 2013 commitment.

Paul Laurence Dunbar junior guard Kierra Muhammad has verbally committed to Western Kentucky, Dunbar coach Sarah Van Horn confirmed today.

WKU coach Michelle Clark-Heard announced Tuesday that she had received a new commitment, posting on Twitter, “Wow got another great phone call! Excited that there are so many people out there that believe in Lady Topper BBall! Welcome 2013 commitment” 

Muhammad, a 5-foot-4 point guard, averaged 10.2 points for Dunbar as a junior last season. She helped the Lady Bulldogs post a 30-7 record and reach the semifinals of the girls’ state tournament, where she averaged 12 points, 3.7 assists and 3.7 rebounds over three games. 

“She’s very quick and excellent on defense,” Van Horn said. “We always look to her to wreak a lot of havoc against other point guards. She can cause a lot of issues for other point guards, a lot of turnovers. She averages almost four steals a game. 

“She’s a very stable point guard. She makes sure people are where they’re supposed to be, and she’s always taking care of the basketball. She’s kind of that rock that you need on offense.” 

Assuming Muhammad signs with WKU, the Lady Toppers have one scholarship remaining for next season after inking six players in the 2012 class. Muhammad’s first chance to officially sign will be in November’s early signing period.

 “I know at the next level, she’s going to be looked at to be a point guard that runs the offense and makes sure shooters get their shot and makes the extra pass, and she’ll do that very well,” Van Horn said.

Greenwood’s Bratcher released from hospital

Just wanted to quickly update anyone who might have had concerns about last night’s craziness at the District 14 baseball tournament.

Greenwood junior shortstop Stephen Bratcher, who was hit in the head by a pitch Tuesday night, was released from a hospital in Nashville this morning after being diagnosed with a concussion, coach Jason Jaggers said.

You can read more about Bratcher’s injury here or see photo’s from the Daily News of both district semifinal games here.

Heard talks to Bowling Green Rotary Club

WKU women’s basketball coach Michelle Clark-Heard spoke to the Bowling Green Rotary Club today, and yours truly was in attendance. Here’s a random collection of thoughts from Heard during her speech. Heard discussed more, including each recruit more in-depth, but these are just some highlights:

Incoming recruits

Jalynn McClain – a “well-needed” player because she’s a post. Heard knew of McClain while she was an assistant at Louisville. Called her an “old-school” player with lots of different moves.

Micah Jones – Heard: “What from what I’ve heard, she can really shoot the basketball.”

Mariah Sunkett – Heard said the staff lost out on a couple of other post players. Sunkett was set to attend another school that had an interim coach, but that coach was told by the athletic director that he couldn’t sign any more players since it wasn’t certain that he’d be back next season. The coach then called new WKU assistant Margaret Richards. Heard said Sunkett fits the Lady Tops’ up-and-down style perfectly.

Kendall Noble

Heard: “I had to pry her thoughts away from Middle Tennessee. I thought that was a huge get for us. … Kendall was one I fought and fought to get on campus, and I sold Kendall on the vision of being able to play in Kentucky and take Western Kentucky to the stop.”

MTSU coach Rick Insell was actively recruiting Noble. Heard:  “Of course, the fella down the road was telling her that we weren’t going to win and other things.”

Heard said she had to fight to get Noble to visit. After she did, the two compared WKU and MTSU. Said the last thing to ask was about the head coach, and Noble hesitated. “I said, ‘I hope that hesitation was for him, not for me.’ She said, ‘Actually, coach, I feel really close to you.’ “

Heard said she was on a recruiting trip when Noble verbally committed, actually sitting next to a MTSU assistant. She excused herself to take the call and celebrated in a crowded parking lot when Noble gave the news. “I was smiling so hard when I came back.”

Returning players

Heard on returnees: “The relationships that I’ve built with them already, I feel like we’ve come a long way. I actually really miss them, not seeing them on campus right now.”

Heard said Chastity Gooch was probably the most impressive player in spring practices. “She has a ton of potential. I’ve just got to get her to reach that potential, and that’s our goal as a staff.”

Heard said the team might have to be selective with its press defense because of depth: “That might have to be in moderation, because last time I checked, I have three post players.”

Other sound bytes

On gaining fans: “I remember the days when Diddle was packed out for the Lady Topper games, and I really believe that we can get back to that. I know we all have to go out and promote that, but I also know that once we get you to a game, you have to enjoy it, have fun and be excited when you leave there.”

“I’m not saying we’re going to win every game, but I can promise we’re going to compete as hard as you’ve seen the Lady Topper compete in a long time.”

On assistant Greg Collins: “I kind of had to pry him away from Arkansas, and it wasn’t easy. He has an unbelievable gift. He’s very good at Xs and Ox, but he’s also great on the court and with individual skill work. From watching film and watching the young ladies, we need as much individual work as we can get.”

VIDEO: Hunter Green tosses no-hitter, strikes out 20 in Warren East win

Warren East junior pitcher Hunter Green threw a no-hitter Monday against Edmonson County and struck out 20 batters, leading the Raiders (13-18) to a 4-0 win at WEHS.

Green recorded his first 18 outs by strikeout before Edmonson County’s Kody Yates flew out to start the top of the seventh.

Green, who currently has scholarship offers from Louisville, Kentucky, Western Kentucky and Mississippi, gave up no hits and walked four.

He also went 2-for-3 at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored. Green is now 6-1 this season with a sub-2.00 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 45 2/3 innings pitched.