May 6, 2020

Mixbag of sports highlights best time of year | Opinion

The best part about the typical spring sports season is there’s so much to go around. Youth teams are usually starting up while high school and college squads are gearing up for potential playoff runs. Plus, spring football is in full swing, so there’s plenty of sports to choose from.

That was clear this week in history throughout Tallapoosa County.

Back in 1982, Central Coosa’s baseball team was having a heckuva season and was on a postseason run. It didn’t stop this week as May 8, 1982, Rodney Gilbert led the Cougars to a hard-fought, back-and-forth victory against Gaston, 10-8.

Gilbert smacked four hits — a double, a triple and two singles — in the high-flying win.

Central Coosa also showed off its speed with 11 stolen bases and it took advantage of six Gaston errors to steal the win.

Fast forward a few years and Benjamin Russell’s track and field team was having a great end to its season. The Wildcats sent three athletes to the AHSAA championships May 5, 1990 and they brought home a combined five medals. Contessa Benson had the highest finish for BRHS, taking second in the 200.

Cedrick Kendricks collected fourth in the boys 100 and seventh in the 200, and Melissa Sutton earned sixth in the triple jump and seventh in the 400.

That week kept getting better for Tallapoosa County athletes on a statewide scale as Dadeville’s Chad Harrison was selected for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, which at that time was played in June in Mobile.

The Tigers have sent three players since then to the prestigious all-star game, including 2015 graduate Anfernee Jennings, who was selected by the New England Patriots in this year’s NFL Draft.

Much like Benjamin Russell’s squad in 1990, Central Alabama Community College’s was finishing its softball season on a high note in 2002. May 7, the Trojans looked to be in hard spot after dropping the first game of their conference championship tournament to Bishop State. But CACC shook off the early defeat and won the next five games, which were played in less than a 24-hour time span, to win its sixth straight title.

“I don’t think I have ever been as proud of a team as I have been of this one,” CACC softball coach Greg Shivers said at the time.

That tournament, Central Alabama got revenge over Bishop State and also had wins over Faulkner State, Southern Union and Wallace-Hanceville to earn the championship.

More recently, it was girls golf and youth football that were on display in Tallapoosa County.

Benjamin Russell’s girls golf squad was moving on to bigger and better things in 2014 after winning the sub-state title.

“I’m so excited and so proud of their ability to persevere,” then-BRHS coach Mandi Durr said. “It would have been easy for them to give up, but they didn’t.”

Just like they are now, local businesses and residents showed just how much they care about the community as residents around Dadeville raised enough money to purchase 60 new helmets for Dadeville’s youth football league later that week in 2014. At the time, the helmets hadn’t been replaced in more than 15 years.

“With the emphasis on concussions, we want to make sure our kids are safe even though you can’t completely eliminate the threat,” then-Dadeville Youth Football President Kevin Goodwin said. “These helmets, from what we (researched), are the best on the market.”

State — May 1, 2015

When there are four minor league baseball teams in one state, there is a decent chance baseball fans get to see some top-level talent before they enter their prime. Those in Montgomery got to see that first hand when the Tampa Bay Rays organization had more than a few highly ranked prospects.

Blake Snell was a first-round draft pick for the Rays and he quickly showed he would live up to the hype. He made it to Double-A when he was 22 and in his debut with the Biscuits, he tossed six innings of one-hit, shutout ball to earn the win in an 11-1 victory over the Mississippi Braves.

Snell struck out eight and walked one, needing just 92 pitches to shut down the Braves. The Biscuits held a 9-0 lead after six innings and once Snell lost his no-hitter, he was pulled to save pitch count in his Double-A debut.

Snell made it to the big leagues in 2016 and he has posted a 3.24 ERA in 506 innings. He won the 2019 American League Cy Young Award with a 21-5 record and league-low 1.89 ERA.

National — May 1, 2004

Barry Bonds was known for what he did swinging the bat more than anything else but he set plenty of records with the bat sitting on his shoulder too. After setting records with his home runs, Bonds racked up an unprecedented number of walks in his final season.

During a 6-3 win against the Florida Marlins, Bonds was intentionally walked four times in one game, setting a new single-game MLB record. It happened to Bonds four more times during the 2004 season and he finished the year with a record 232 walks. Bonds now holds the all-time record with 2,558 free passes in his career.

International – May 4, 1949

The Superga air disaster took the lives of 31 people when a plane carrying the Torino FC team crashed into a retaining wall at the back of the Basillca of Superga, a church in Turin, Italy. The flight held 18 players, three coaches, three club officials, three journalists and four flight crew members.

The wreck was reportedly due to the bad weather conditions with limited vision for the pilots. There were no survivors.

After the wreck, rival clubs requested Torino be given the title of the 1948-49 season and teams did not field their top players in the season’s final four matchdays. The league requested each club donate a player to Torino for the following season. On the day of the funeral, approximately half a million people lined the streets of Torino for a final farewell to the players, according to the BBC.

— Caleb Turrentine contributed to this article. 

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