Ready to rock and roll with spring sports

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By Tommie Kendall

Heads up - spring sports are about to get in full swing. And once the pitchers start throwing fast balls and the batters start swinging for the fence, baseballs and softballs will be filling the air in no time.

I can't smell it yet, or feel it, but spring is definitely here, which means high school sports in the county are starting.

Whether it's knocking a ball out of the park in baseball, pulling a double play in softball or tearing down the runway in track, I'm ready for some action to begin this spring. And I don't have to wait very long.

Hopefully you are as excited about the upcoming spring season as I am. Aside from the nicer weather - though unpredictable at times - there are plenty of sporting events to attend. The pages that follow are filled with team photos, rosters, schedules and preview stories - enough information to keep you busy for awhile.

With each new season, comes questions and predictions. Can the Henry County High School baseball team switch coaches, shuffle the lineup and win as many games as last season? Can the Eminence baseball team, under the guidance of new coach Mark Payton, have a winning season after a 2-20 record? Can the Henry County softball team rebuild after losing six key seniors to win a third straight district title? Can the Eminence softball team earn more wins in 2008? Can the Henry tracksters get 10 athletes back to the state meet like last June? Can the Eminence sprinters improve by just two hundredths of a second in the 800-meter relay to advance a relay team to state for the first time since 1971?

For most of the teams, it's a maturing year. For others - with higher hopes - it's a time to move to the front of the field.

Individually, there are enough athletes in the county to keep us entertained. Among the baseball players, Henry's Tommy Wilson and Daniel Lyons, along with Eminence newcomer Shawn Hamlin, should fill the stat sheets with above-average numbers. On the softball field, Henry's Kaitlin Foree and Ashley Buck, along with Eminence's Kassidy Dees, will provide the leadership. And in track, Henry's Brittany Crawford and Larry Farmer, along with Eminence's Ed Berry, hope to make a splash at the Kentucky State Track & Field Championships in two months. Crawford finished second in the 100-meter hurdles last season, and is shooting for a state title this time around; Farmer holds three school records and wants to go out with a bang; and Berry is the top returning high jumper in Class A.

So the games are on the verge of being in full swing once again, and the sweltering days of summer are already drawing near. I can hear the spikes running down the homestretch, smell the freshly-cut grass and see the scoreboard - though just in my head.

It's the last go around for the seniors - Jalie Adams (HCHS track), Jessica Adams (EHS softball), Sydney Armstrong (EHS track), Samuel Brewer (EHS baseball), Jordan Bryant (HCHS baseball), Ashley Buck (HCHS softball), Tyler Cox (HCHS baseball), Nolan DeBurger (HCHS baseball), Kassidy Dees (EHS softball), Isiah Durrett (EHS track), Larry Farmer (HCHS track), Kaitlyn Foree (HCHS softball), Michael Goddard (HCHS track), Jamie Graham (HCHS track), Michael Gregory (HCHS track), Kelli Hawkins (EHS softball), Daniel Lyons (HCHS baseball), Ryan Paris (EHS baseball), Samantha Pike (HCHS track), Joey Pollard (HCHS baseball), Coletin Raper (EHS baseball), Ben Roberts (HCHS baseball) and Ross Williams (HCHS baseball). For the younger players, it's a chance to get another year of experience before it's their chance to shine.

Like the spring time ahead of us, it's time to sit back and watch these teams and players blossom. I'm anxiously waiting to see what they become.

Tommie Kendall can be reached at sports@hclocal.com.