By Tim Chambers
Thanks to a pair of female runners, the Spring Fling won’t be a dry run for Carter County athletes in 2012.
Elizabethton’s sophomore duo of Ashley Pierce and Katie May will compete in the track events on Thursday after qualifying for the state tournament.
Pierce goes in as the third seed in the 1,600-meter run while May gathered the fifth seed in the 300 hurdles.
The Star will follow their progress throughout the two-day event.
Baseball gets shutout from Spring Fling
Murfreesboro has been a home away from home for Unaka’s baseball team over the past decade, but its 7-0 loss to Grace Christian was the second time in three years that they’ve bowed out in the sub-state round.
The Rangers have worn the Buffalo Bills’ hat when it comes to overall record at the big dance.
They are 0-14 since making their first appearance in 2003. That might have been the best overall team’s that former head coach Mike Ensor every took down.
Had the schools been divided up like they are now then, the outcome might have been different for the Rangers.
They had to beat an excellent CAK squad in the sub-state just to reach the elite eight, the same school that knocked off Johnson County 10-1 in the AA sub-state game this year.
The Rangers lost to Chattanooga Christian 9-1 at Auto Zone Park in Memphis in their first game. They faced a pitcher that would signed with Memphis University, which was 9-0 on the season with a fastball well about 90.
Their second loss was to Jackson Christian 9-4, a team that won 37 games. The Rangers led that contest 4-0 in the fifth inning, but couldn’t hang on.
Both opponents went on to finish in second and third place. Unaka and Rockwood were the only public schools represented. The Rangers finished the year 23-13 which included wins over Elizabethton, Sullivan South, Greeneville, Happy Valley, Daniel Boone and Unicoi County.
Six more times in this decade they would make the field with the same results. There were some calls, but the school should be commended for its remarkable run.
Three schools would love to have been in Unaka’s shoes.
Happy Valley, Hampton and Cloudland have never appeared in a state tournament baseball game. The only other team to hold that honor was the 1958 Elizabethton Cyclones.
It was a totally different outcome than Unaka’s appearances, although they do share a common.
Claude Holsclaw, who coached Elizabethton, had the field named in his honor at Unaka after coaching there for several years after leaving the Cyclones.
Elizabethton beat some good teams to reach the state tournament that was played in Knoxville. The Cyclones nipped Clarksville 2-0 in their first game, but fell to Memphis Central 4-1 in their second contest.
Johnny Taylor almost pulled off the unthinkable in the opener. He allowed only one hit after throwing a no-hitter in his prior appearance. John Holsclaw swung a hot bat in both games, along with Wilkie Brookshire.
’Betsy would play its best baseball after the loss despite being one game from elimination. It topped Chattanooga Central 9-8 in a wild and wacky affair, with Joe Fair collecting the game-winning hit.
It was a bases-loaded triple by Norman “Cotton” Hodge that allowed them to take the lead. That win enabled them to reach the championship game, where they needed two defeat Memphis Central twice..
Elizabethton emerged victorious 8-6 in the first game to force a second contest, but fell 4-3 in the decisive game on a play that still stands out 54 years later.
A harmless single got by the right fielder for a three-base error ,which allowed Memphis Central to score the winning run. Former major leaguer Tim McCarver was the catcher and star player on that squad.
Elizabethton’s starting lineup consisted of Taylor and Holsclaw at shortstop in addition to their mound duties. Hodge, 3b, Brookshire 2b and Walt Harber, who pounded the ball during the five-game event played first.
Jack Hyder, Ken Humphrey and Fair formed the starting outfield. Ken Denny was the catcher. Wayne Tolley, who was credited with the win in the first game of the finals, was a key pitcher as well.
Holsclaw is still well known to Cyclone fans today. He can be found broadcasting Elizabethton’s football and basketball games on WBEJ. He also does select games for the county schools.
Former Hampton standout player passes away
Hampton basketball fans were saddened about the recent death of Kelly Malone, a 1977 graduate.
Malone was an all-conference guard on the hardwood for two seasons in addition to starting on the baseball squad.
Rocky Davenport, who starred on the diamond for Elizabethton and is now a veteran high school umpire, remembers Malone well.
It was his Texas League single that broke up Davenport’s no-hitter in ’Betsy’s close win over the Bulldogs in 1976.
Malone’s uncle, Willie was a star player on Hampton’s 1960 state championship squad while his brother Anthony “Tut” played on the 1983 state runner-up Bulldogs — and was named to the all-tournament team.
He was a pastor in Myrtle Beach and founder of the Agape Christian Fellowship Church. He also ran a business in nearby Conway.
Just recently he provided lodging for a former Happy Valley player’s family after the former Warrior nearly died while on vacation there. All it took was a phone call. He and his Lord did the rest.
He leaves behind a mother, wife, three children, two brothers and a grandchild.
All Carter and Johnson County squads
The All Carter/Johnson County baseball team will run in Sunday’s edition of the Elizabethton Star. The softball team will be featured on the following Sunday. Each team member will be selected by Elizabethton Star sports department staff.
Tim Chambers is a sportswriter for the Elizabethton Star and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org