Monday, April 23, 2012

SPORTS >> Lady Bears win game, lose coach

Leader sports editor

The Lady Bears’ softball team remained perfect in conference with a drubbing of Helena-West Helena Central in a 5A Southeast doubleheader Thursday, but they’ll have to finish off what’s been a great season without their head coach.

Sylvan Hills coach Phil Bradley, 59, who has held the head coaching position for the last six years after starting his career as an assistant at Jacksonville, is stepping down for the rest of the season due to health concerns.

“It’s just been a trying, stressful season,” Bradley said. “There are other issues involved with my health, and the way the season has gone, it’s just made some of those things worse.”

The doctor’s orders stated, ‘it is medically necessary that the above patient may not work the rest of the school year due to stress pain and numbness.’ Bradley says stepping down was a difficult decision, especially given the success of the team so far. The Lady Bears are in first place in the conference race. They are 14-4 overall and 8-0 against 5A-Southeast teams.

“This team can beat anybody,” Bradley said. “These girls are state title contenders. I believe that. I’m just not willing to take any unnecessary risks when it comes to my health.”

Volunteer assistant coach Jeff Johnson will take over head-coaching responsibilities the rest of the season. Johnson has been helping Bradley for the last five years.

“Jeff knows these girls and knows what this team is about,” Bradley said. “He knows they have potential to go a long way and he’ll work hard to get the best out of them.”

In Thursday’s games, Sylvan Hills made the long road trip and pummeled the Lady Cougars 21-0 and 22-0, each game ending in three innings.

“It wasn’t pretty,” Bradley said. “They don’t have anything.

Tyra Williams pitched and faced the minimum nine batters in three innings of play.

Williams struck out seven batters in her first-career perfect game.

Sylvan Hills scored four runs in the first, eight in the second and 11 in the third inning as the visiting team.

Callie Cavender won game two on the mound for the Lady Bears, who took the role of home team for the nightcap.

They scored eight runs in the first and 14 in the second inning, batting around twice in the second frame. Cavender gave up one base hit while striking out seven batters.

Sylvan Hills has a big conference doubleheader next Thurs-day when it hosts Monticello at Sherwood Sports Complex.