With a tournament theme, here is a fresh batch of batch of “David’s Appetizers,” assorted musings and observations on the sports scene:
SOUTHLAND TOURNAMENT WEATHER
If you can get in a double-elimination baseball tournament in May without a weather delay, consider it perfect.
Saturday morning for the Southland Conference championship game between the University of Central Arkansas and Southeastern Louisiana at Bear Stadium, some fans worked on their tans on a mostly sunny afternoon. Others headed for the shade with a pleasant light breeze.
UCA and SLC officials got an delightful double whammy for the eight-team tournament. The weather all four days was as good as it gets here in May. UCA, the No. 6 seed, played all four days (the featured night game three days in a row) and reached the championship games. The Bears played before some of the largest crowds in stadium history.
Dr. Brad Teague and his staff did their usual efficient job in running the event. All the bases were covered.
UCA coach Allen Gum and his staff, recently adding a party deck in left center, have done a superb job of creating great atmosphere for college basesball.
And, even more amazing, the tournament ran on time. Only one game pushed the allotted time limit — and that was only by 15 minutes.
Good games. Good weather. Good experience all the way around.
THE WAMPUS CAT CONNECTION
Former Conway High players Tyler Langley, Wes Hoover, Connor McClain and Bo Stitch have all made significant contributions to the Bears’ success this season.
They are not only good players; they are leaders.
“Coach (Noel) Boucher and (Barry) Lueders do a great job in preparing players to play in college,” said Northwestern State pitching coach Chris Curry, whose has the same roots in baseball with the Wampus Cats. “If they tell you a player can play, he can player.”
Nick Rougeau is another UCA player from Conway. He played at Little Rock Catholic.
A TRIBUTE TO VILONIA
Even though the Lady Eagles fell a game short of a state title, the Vilonia softball team won statewide admiration for their passion and resiliency.
When white Hall defeated the Lady Eagles in the %A title game, there were no taunts just hugs. They collected money to give them gift cards.
Despite the effects of a tornado that destroyed the homes of two players and an assistant coach and players working in recovery efforts, the Lady Eagles played on with determination to win a conference title and the state championship game. They set a template for a team handling sudden adversity.
TWO MORE GROUPS OF EAGLES
Baseball teams from Vilonia and Mayflower, also showing spunk, fell just short of the state title game.
Vilonia lost to Jacksonville at Jacksonville.
Mayflower was eliminated in the state tournament by Fordyce for the second straight year, this time 1-0 on a no-hitter by Brandon Chambers. The only run was a home run.
“In 18 years of coaching, that’s the best-pitched game I’ve ever seen against us,” said Mayflower coach Joe Allbritton.
In guiding Bryant to its third state baseball title and dominating a highly regarded Fayetteville team in the process, former UCA player Kirk Bock is establishing his own legacy.
He is a son of the late Billy Bock, a Hall of Fame coach.
Bock ball is still alive.
(Sports columnist David McCollum can be reached at 501-505-1235 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @dmaclcd)