Friday, April 14, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Panthers blow up in eighth at NLR

Special to The Leader

A tight game ended up not so close when the Cabot Lady Panthers exploded for five runs in the first extra inning to beat North Little Rock 9-4 Tuesday at Burns Park.

Cabot moved into sole possession of second place in the 7A Central conference race with the victory. Both teams had a loss to conference leading Bryant, so with the win, Cabot moved a game ahead of the Charging Lady Wildcats at 6-1 in league play and an overall record of 16-3 overall.

North Little Rock is 4-2 in the conference and 11-4-1 overall.

The Lady Wildcats scored first, but Cabot held a 4-2 lead after five innings. North Little Rock tied the contest in the bottom of the sixth, and a scoreless seventh forced an extra inning.

“I thought both teams played hard,” said Cabot coach Chris Cope. “We left a lot of runnerson base. I thought at any given moment we could have broke out. They did too, but we took care of business in the last inning. We gave ourselves a chance defensively to put us in that last inning, and we took care of it. Lauren (McCluskey) did a good job of pitching tonight for us. She kept the hitters off balance. They had some hard hits, but then our defense stepped up and played one of the better games that they have played.”

The Lady Wildcats scored first in the bottom of the first inning. Reagan Sperling led off with a double to center field. Madi Bobbitt moved her to third with a ground out to third. Cassidy Tucker singled to score Sperling for the 1-0 lead after one inning of play.

The Lady Panthers did score twice in the third to take a 2-1 advantage. Bethany Knowles got a ball into the right field corner to reach second base. Grace Neal drove her in with a double to center. Hannah Montgomery singled to left, followed by a single to right by Lee to score Neal.

Anna Beaver singled and moved to second on a bunt by Sperling to start the bottom of the inning for NLR, but when Cabot shortstop Rylie Hamilton threw out a runner at first, first baseman Hannah Montgomery threw out the runner advancing to third to end the inning.

Cabot picked up two more runs in the fifth inning to take a 4-1 lead. McCluskey doubled to score pinch runner Tristan Peeples and moved to third on the throw home. Her courtesy runner, Layne Smith, scored on a ground ball to the right side by Kaitlyn Campbell.

The Lady Wildcats picked up a run in the bottom of the inning. Marissa Mitchell singled up the middle and scored on a triple to deep right field by Beaver for a score of 4-2 at the end of five.

North Little Rock scored again in the next inning to knot the score at 4-4. Bobbitt led off with a single to right center. After a fielder’s choice out, Katelynn McMahan singled over first base. Lily Douglass singled to center to score pinch runner Alexis Hood. Mitchell singled to score Douglass for the tie.

The Lady Wildcats got their lead off runner aboard in the bottom of the seventh, but the snag of a hot line drive and throw to first behind the runner by McCluskey ended the inning.

Since no one scored in the seventh, to start the eighth, the Lady Panthers had Duncan on second base. Leah Gerald reached on an error. Knowles hit a line drive down the right field line to score Duncan and Gerald. Neal followed with a double to score Knowles. Montgomery singled to left. The Lady Wildcats changed pitchers, moving McKenzie Roberts from first in relief of starter Katelynn McMahan. Two walks followed, one for a run, and Hamilton reached on an error to score another run, for a total of five for the frame.

The Cabot defense held in the bottom of the inning to set the final score of 9-4.

Neal scored two runs for the Lady Panthers and had three hits, two of them doubles. Knowles also scored two runs, had two doubles, two sacrifice bunts and reached on an error.

Beaver had three hits for the Lady Wildcats, and Mitchell had two hits and scored a run.

SPORTS STORY >> Titans skirt past Patriots by a thread

Leader sports editor

Jacksonville ended a seven-game losing streak on Tuesday at Dupree Park, but not without a scare from a vastly improved Parkview Patriots team. Jacksonville had to overcome a late 4-0 deficit to win game one of a 5A-6A-Central doubleheader 8-7. The Titans then had to hold off a bases-loaded, no outs situation in the bottom of the seventh inning to win game two 3-1.

“They’re better,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “Their pitcher (in game one) had us off balance the whole night. What really did it for us tonight was our pinchrunners and pinch hitters. I told them they were it. They got us going in the first game, coming in, stealing bases. Peyton (Williams) had a huge pinch hit, stole two bases and scored. (DeBoious) Cobbs, Robert Johnson and Payton were a huge reason we won the games tonight. What was it, a one-run game and a two-run game? They were big. They were ready when they were called on, and they were huge for us.

“And having Kam (catcher Kameron Whitmore) back there. I don’t know how many passed balls he saved tonight, but he’s a big reason for our success. We missed him when he wasn’t back there, and he was unbelievable again tonight. Big kudos to him.”

Parkview (10-10, 5-4) scored three runs in the top of the second inning of game one to take an early lead while Dylan Moulden kept the Titan bats in check on the mound. The Patriots added another run in the fifth for a 4-0 lead.

After no hits and just one base runner through four innings, Jacksonville finally started touching Moulden in the fifth.

Jayden Loving and Joe Cummings got back-to-back singles to start the inning. Quentin Stallard drew a walk and that was it for Geary’s night on the mound. Greg Helsley then hit a two-RBI double to get the Titans on the scoreboard.

Trent Toney also got an RBI base hit, and the Titans added three more runs on sacrifices and wild pitches to take a 6-4 lead.

Jacksonville (9-11, 4-6) added another run in the sixth on another RBI double by Helsley, but Parkview tied it with three in the top of the seventh.

In the bottom of the seventh, Caden Sample and Kyle Williams walked. With one out and Sample on third, Cummings hit a line drive to right field to score Sample for the win.

Jordan Wickersham turned in a good performance on the mound for the Titans, but settled for the no-decision. He gave up four hits and two earned runs in six innings of work. He walked three and struck out eight, including the side in the fourth inning.

Kyle Williams pitched the seventh inning to get the win.

Helsley’s 2 for 3 game at the plate, both doubles for three RBIs, led Jacksonville offensively.

Kyle Williams started on the mound in game two and got the win. Loving stepped in with one out in the sixth inning to earn the save.

Jacksonville again struggled at the plate, getting no hits off Geary Allmon until Toney led off the fourth inning with a single. He went all the way around the bases and scored on a series of passed balls and wild pitches.

Caleb Smith drew a leadoff walk in the sixth. He stole second and moved to third on a sacrifice by Toney. He scored on another passed ball.

In the top of the seventh, Payton Williams got a base hit to left field and stole second base. He moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on an RBI groundout to second by Cummings.

Parkview got a walk, a base hit and another walk to start the bottom of the seventh. Loving then walked leadoff hitter Zach Smith to drive in Parkview’s first and only run.

With the bases loaded and still no outs, Loving got Moulden to bounce one back to the mound.

Loving fielded it cleanly and threw home for the force, and Whitmore quickly relayed to first to get Moulden for the 1-2-3 double play.

Allmon then also grounded weakly back to Loving for the third and final out of the game.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke falls to second with split

Leader sports editor

Three teams were tied for first place in the 3A/4A 9th District when Lonoke went to Central Arkansas Christian for a doubleheader on Wednesday. Now only one remains, and neither of the two teams competing in North Little Rock.

The Jackrabbits and Mustangs split their twin bill, with Lonoke winning game one 2-1 and CAC taking the nightcap 6-2. That left both teams with two conference losses, and left Mayflower along at the top of the standings with only one.

Kade Stuart pitched a gem for Lonoke in game one. He went the distance, giving up just two base hits with five strikeouts and two walks. CAC’s lone run was unearned.

Despite the effort on the mound, the Jackrabbits still had to rally in the last two innings to come from behind for the win.

The Mustangs’ second and final hit of the game came in the fifth inning. It was followed by back-to-back errors, one at second base and one in right field that led to CAC’s 1-0 lead.

The Mustangs (13-6, 10-2) returned the favor in the top of the sixth. Daulton Smith hit a leadoff single before Haven Hunter flew out to right field and Stuart struck out. Smith stole second base during Tallon Swint’s at-bat. Swint then hit a grounder to second base that was flubbed by Hugh Miller, allowing Smith to round third and tie the game.

Stuart sat CAC down in order in the bottom of the sixth, and Lonoke scored the game-winning run in the seventh, thanks largely to a pitching change.

While Lonoke had only scored once, it had put at least two runners on base in four of the first six innings, and forced starting pitcher Braden Quiesenberry’s pitch count to rise. He was replaced by Blake Fairchild, and Fairchild struggled with control.

He walked Greg Lingo to start the inning before striking out Christian Cooper. He then walked Kameron Cole and Casey Martin to load the bases with one out. Smith then singled to center field to drive in the winning run. Lonoke failed to give itself any cushion, however. With the bases still loaded and one out, Hunter struck out and Stuart flew out to center field to end the threat.

Stuart walked Davis Gatling with one out in the bottom of the seventh, but he never reached second base. A pop fly and a groundout preserved the win for Lonoke.

Martin and Smith had two hits apiece to lead the Jackrabbits.

Lonoke (12-9, 8-2) was again scoreless after five innings in game two, but this time the deficit was six runs instead of one, though only three were earned.

The Mustangs scored two unearned in the first inning and one more in the fourth. They added three earned on two walks, two doubles and a single in the fifth inning for the 6-0 lead.

Lonoke’s two runs came on a single by Stuart, a double by Lingo and a CAC error in the sixth inning.

SPORTS STORY >> Bear bats battle for sweep at Warriors

Leader sports editor

Sylvan Hills won a key conference matchup on Wednesday, going on the road and sweeping Little Rock Christian Academy in a 5A/6A-Central doubleheader in Little Rock. Scores were 5-2 and 2-1, but Bears’ coach Denny Tipton had mixed feelings about his squad’s performance.

“I always feel like my team is really ultra competitive,” began Tipton. “I just didn’t get that feeling that we were really that into it. I thought we were early. I was proud of how we battled the best pitcher. We got his count up early, fouled off a lot of tough pitches. I was proud of how they battled at the plate against him. When they took him out, it felt like, to me, we let up a little bit. I don’t think we had very many good at-bats after he left the mound. I don’t like 2-1 games.”

Bennett Shoptaw is the Warriors’ ace. While he held the Bears’ scoreless for three and two-thirds innings, he was taken deep into pitch counts and had to work out of jams in the first and third innings.

A leadoff walk and two Sylvan Hills errors put the Warriors on top 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning. The Bears finally changed that with two outs in the fourth. With nobody on base, Kyle Clayton drew a walk before Spencer Zilkey reached on an error at second base. That little opening was enough for the Bears’ to pounce. Back at the top of the lineup, Michael Coven singled to left field to drive in one run. Zach Douglass then went the other way for an RBI base hit that put Sylvan Hills in front.

Ryan Lumpkin then opened the fifth inning with a leadoff double and took third on a wild pitch. River Hunt drove him in with a base hit, and scored two batters later on a single by Chaz Poppy. After a walk by Clayton and a fly out to center by Zilkey, another infield error, this time off a grounder to short by Coven, led to the Bears’ final run and a 5-1 lead.

LR Christian (13-9, 7-3) scored on a double by Colin Baxley and a single by Trey Harris in the bottom of the seventh inning to set the final margin.

Game two went by in a flash, taking less than 90 minutes to complete. Sylvan Hills scored both of its runs in the second inning. Hunt hit a one-out double to left field and took third on a groundout by Poppy. He scored on a passed ball as Caleb McMunn walked. Another passed ball and a wild pitch got McMunn to third base. Clayton’s sac fly brought him home for the 2-0 lead.

The Bears (22-3, 10-0) only had one more base runner the rest of the game, a walk by Nick Fakouri in the sixth inning, but it was all they needed. The Warriors had many more chances to score than the Bears in game two, but Hunt worked his way out of trouble in the first, second and fourth innings without giving up a run.

Harris hit a one-out double for the home team in the fifth inning, and later scored on a wild pitch.

Anders Nowell hit a one-out double in the sixth, but McMunn came in to get two quick outs, then got a groundout to first and a pair of strikeouts in the seventh to seal the win.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot keeps finding wins

Leader sports editor

In a game of clutch pitching and squandered opportunities for both teams, the Cabot baseball team once again found a way to win. The Panthers finally did something in the 10th inning that neither team could do in several previous ones at Burns Park Tuesday, get the clutch base hit with runners in scoring position. That resulted in a 6-4 victory over North Little Rock, which completed a sweep of the first 7A-Central round robin and a 7-0-conference mark.

Junior Dillon Thomas stepped to the plate with two outs in the top of the 10th and the bases loaded. It was the last of several similar situations for both teams since the score was tied 4-4 in the fifth inning. This time, however, Thomas smacked a single to left-center field to score Blake McCutchen and Clayton Gray.

Ty Cyr, who was catcher Denver Mullins’ courtesy runner, was thrown out trying to sneak into third after the throw to the plate, but the damage was done.

Cabot relief pitcher Michael Shepherd had been dominant since entering the game in the seventh inning, and the bottom of the 10th was no different. After Drew Menard reached on a throwing error by Thomas to start the inning, Shepherd got Dezmond Cordova to pop up, then struck out Weston McGhee and Zach Freeman to earn the win on the mound.

Four of Cabot’s seven league wins have been by one run, and Tuesday’s game was the fourth to go extra innings against a very strong league. Coach Ronnie Goodwin doesn’t let that go unnoticed.

“One-run games, win or lose, make you better,” said Goodwin. “Games like this make you better, and the fact that we’re finding ways to win those games is encouraging. But at the same time, in a league like this, as fast as you get to 7-0, you can go 0-7. So we don’t want to take anything for granted. That’s a very good baseball team, and we have a ton of respect for those guys.”

Ace right-hander Logan Gilbertson started for the Panthers, and for the first time this year, fell behind early. It was yet another unfamiliar situation for Cabot to be in, and another one in which the team persevered.

North Little Rock scored two runs on just one hit in the bottom of the first inning. Gilbertson had walked one, hit one and Nick Butler reached on an error to load the bases. Chance Harger then doubled to right field to put the home team up 2-1.

Cabot scored in the top of the first on a walk, an error and back-to-back singles by Thomas and Houston King.

“It wasn’t Logan’s best night, but he wasn’t bad by any stretch,” Goodwin said. “I was going to take him out in the sixth, but I still had the confidence in him to where, when he told me he wanted him, I just said, OK then. He’s yours. And he got him.”

The sixth inning was another one the Charging Wildcats look back on with regret. They had the bases loaded with one out when Chase Freeman stepped to the plate. He whiffed a bunt attempt on a squeeze play that got Menard caught in a rundown and tagged out by the pitcher. Gilbertson then fanned Chase Freeman to get out of the jam and end his night.

With the help of another Cabot error, the Wildcats loaded the bases again in the bottom of the seventh with one out against Shepherd. Menard grounded into a 5-2 fielder’s choice. Cordova then hit a hard line drive to left-center field, but the fleet-footed Evan Hooper got under it with no trouble for the final out.

Shepherd sat the Wildcats down in order in the eighth inning. They got their leadoff hitter on base via error in the ninth and 10th innings, but Shepherd remained in charge and fought off any real threat.

Cabot (15-5 overall) grabbed the lead in the top of the second inning. Kyler Franks hit a one-out single before Blake McCutchen tripled to right field for the RBI. He then scored on a sac fly by Gray for the 3-2 advantage.

The Wildcats (13-6, 5-2) got it right back in the bottom of the third with two runs, but a stellar defensive play by Franks kept it from being worse. NLR got a single by Chase Freeman and back-to-back doubles by Butler and Owen Stuckey for a 4-3 lead and no outs. Gilbertson then hit Chance Harger and the runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Ryan Maloch.

Menard grounded between second and third, where Franks made a running stop, then made a perfectly placed throw to the plate, and it had to be perfect2= to get the 4-2 fielder’s choice and save another run. Cordova then grounded back to Gilbertson for the final out.

Cabot tied the game in the top of the fifth with singles by Thomas and Duncan, and an RBI groundout by Caleb Harpole.

Cabot finished with 12 base hits to eight for the Wildcats. Thomas went 3 for 6 with three RBIs. Gray went 2 for 4 while McCutchen and Duncan each went 2 for 5. No Wildcat had more than one hit.

Gilbertson got the no decision after pitching six innings and leaving with the score tied. He gave up seven hits, four runs, three earned, with five strikeouts, three walks and one hit batter.

Shepherd got the win for his four innings of relief. He gave up one hit and zero runs on five strikeouts and one walk.

The perfect league mark doesn’t mean Goodwin doesn’t see things his team should do better than it did on Tuesday.

“The first thing you notice is I think we left a small village of people on base,” Goodwin said. “You’d like to see that improve. But all four pitchers made some clutch pitches and got out of some bad situations, and that’s what good pitchers do. We were fortunate enough to be the team to get the key hit first.”

The two teams combined to leave 25 runners on base. Cabot left 13 and NLR 12.

The win gives the Panthers a two-game lead over NLR and Conway, who each stand at 5-2 in conference play.

TOP STORY >> Airmen at dining facility win top award

19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Hercules Dining Facility airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base recently won the 2017 Air Force Hennessy Award in competition against five major command-nominated bases worldwide.

The John L. Hennessy trophy is an annual award presented to the best food service program in the Air Force around the world. The Hennessy award is based on the entire scope of an installation’s food service program.

“The airmen have secured the recognition at the major command-level three years running through dedication to top-notch customer service,” said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Danielle Joe, 19th Force Support Squadron assistant dining facility manager. “Winning at the Air Force level shows that commitment at a new level.”

Airmen from military installations compete against each other at the major command level to determine who is worthy of being sent to the finals.

After three years of winning at the major command level, the team’s efforts paid off by being recognized at the Air Force level worldwide.

“It was an amazing team effort. Winning isn’t a single accomplishment, it’s a daily task of serving and training,” Joe said. “Keeping up with the needs of the base starts from day one, so when it’s inspection day, it’s just fine-tuning.”

The contribution that dining facility airmen make at Little Rock Air Force Base requires a lot of work and doesn’t happen overnight — it requires training, said Senior Airman Austin Ballinger, 19th Force Support Services journeyman.

“A lot of hours go into training,” Ballinger said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a Sunday or a Saturday, we’re going to try harder year after year.”

The airmen at the Hercules Dining Facility weren’t aiming to win an award — rather, they were striving to perfect their customer service, their food production, preparation and serving to the best of their ability.

“Winning the award justifies all the hard work we put in, but it doesn’t stop there,” Ballinger said. “We have to be prepared for next year. Winning the award is nice, but we have to do it for our customers.”

Receiving the trophy doesn’t end the staff’s commitment to excellence, as every day is a new opportunity to succeed.

“We showed what we are working toward daily, and the Hennessey Award judges saw that. Every day you have to strive for success, and you can’t get complacent,” Joe said. “The goal is to deliver improved customer service and become better. It’s not just about the award: This is what we do.”

TOP STORY >> Cotton, Hill host meeting

Leader senior staff writer

Second District Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) and Sen. Tom Cotton (R- Dardanelle) will hold a town hall forum at 2 p.m. Monday at the Embassy Suites, 11301 Financial Centre Park-way, west of Shackleford in Little Rock.

Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and the meeting is slated to last for an hour. Seating capacity is 700.

This is Hill’s first town hall at least since Trump was elected. Cotton took a lot of heat at a previous town hall, heard testimonials from people whose families have depended on Obamacare and some believe it may have swayed his position against the Republican plan to repeal Obamacare and pass a new health insurance plan.

At Cotton’s town hall meeting in Springdale in February, about 2,000 spoke out against his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and immigration issues, according to news reports and television coverage.

Residents throughout the nation have confronted their representatives at their local town halls.

Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.) seems to favor what he calls “tele-town halls,” using the telephone.

There is no indication Boozman will attend the town hall meeting on Monday.

TOP STORY >> Herweg takes top job at JPD

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher swore in his new Police Chief Geoffrey Herweg on Friday at the department.

“I love new beginnings. I believe God is in control of our lives. I believe everything happens for a purpose and at a certain time. I think it is fitting that today is Good Friday and what it and Easter represent,” said Fletcher, calling him the best in the state.

He said, “Easter is about bringing hope in the desperate situations we all have. It is about us living a life of issues and being wrong with, the one of the most important relationship of our lives with, our God.”

“Good Friday was a day that was man’s darkest. He showed his worst. But the hope that came out at Easter, to me, is what it is all about,” the mayor said at the ceremony.

“Today, we have that same kind of hope, but in a different way with a new direction and leadership. We all like new beginnings in our lives,” Fletcher continued.

But some are concerned about the mayor giving Herweg a new “beginning” as the city’s police chief.

Alderman Tara Smith said Herweg’s criminal past – a Class B misdemeanor for filing a false police report – should bar him from the job.

“There wasn’t anyone equally qualified with a clean record?” Smith asked.

The NAACP has also sent a letter of concern to the mayor and aldermen.

Fletcher said there were several innuendoes made during the hiring process for the job, which had 31 people apply. The hiring committee, helping make the decision included Fletcher, Fire Chief Alan Laughy, human resources director Jill Ross and retired Police Chief Kenny Boyd. During the last two interviews, city director Jim Durham was brought in.

“During the interview process, everything is about chemistry. Out of all the interviews, Geoff stirred my heart. We kept interviewing. I’ve appointed four to five department directors since I’ve been mayor. I’ve picked the very best in the state. If you worked in my office and deal with these people on a daily basis, you know they are the best,” Fletcher said.

“I do not fill a position, I fill a need. I think great leaders make hard decisions. I did not run to be a politician. I ran to be a leader, a spiritual leader. Because every problem we deal with spiritually, manifests itself into physical things. We deal with surface problems, and that’s why we don’t solve problems. I think differently than most people and that’s the way I approach things,” he explained.

“I was looking for somebody I believe could do a great job. I chose a man and not a moment. I saw a person who was very strong and had a lot of confidence. He has a vision, direction and energy. I am proud of this department, and I expect great things,” Fletcher said.

According to police reports from Christmas Eve 2000, Herweg, off-duty, coming home from a party, ran into a garage door causing a total of $2,000 damage to the door and the vehicle inside the garage, then continued to drive, abandoning his vehicle in a ditch, then walked home.

He said the accident occurred because he fell a sleep. “I fell asleep hard and was in a fog for awhile,” Herweg explained.

As his fellow officers investigated the hit and run, Herweg initially said his vehicle had been stolen. Even though some, but not all, of the officers interviewing Herweg smelled alcohol, nowhere in the report does it say he was intoxicated.

Herweg resigned two days after the incident, and in a plea deal he agreed to plead guilty to the false report and voluntarily gave up his Texas law-enforcement license.

Texas is the only state where he can’t obtain a license to be a police officer.

Prior to that incident his personnel file shows numerous accolades, including, ironically, a 10-year safe driving award.

Just two months before the incident, in his yearly evaluation Chief Jeff Straub wrote that Herweg was a “superior employee and a leader whose leadership has caused much of this agency’s success and subsequent high level of morale and reputation.” The chief recommended him for “any advancement available.”

In an additional sheet of comments, the chief said Herweg had excellent job knowledge and was easy to work with. “He is without equal in this agency,” the chief wrote.

In 1999, Herweg’s supervisor, Sgt. Mark Clark, wrote that Herweg was “a good instructor and a people person.”

On the weaknesses said Clark said Herweg could “use a little more modesty.”

A year earlier his supervisor wrote that Herweg “displayed good leadership abilities. He is a self thinker and is creative.”

The most negative evaluation comment came after he had been on the job for just one month in 1995 his supervisor wrote that Herweg “doesn’t feel he could ever be wrong.”

At Friday’s public ceremony, Herweg said, “Thank you kindly for the support. Mr. Durham and the aldermen, without their support this would not have happened.”

“I’m not going down the negative road, just not today. I have not had a chance to meet with every department or had a department-wide meeting. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with the captains, a fine group,” the chief.

“I’ve met with a few of the lieutenants. The vision of the department I whole heartedly support. We will go forward with the vision, mission and goals of this department. That is the direction we will head in the future. There are absolutely fine men and women in the Jacksonville Police Department. I look forward to meeting the rest of them in the next couple of days,” Herweg said.

Herweg’s badge was pinned on by his wife, Jeannie. Among those attending the ceremony were Aldermen Kenny Elliott, Reedie Ray and Terry Sansing.

(Staff writer Rick Kron contributed to this article.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Panthers cruise against Grizzlies

Leader sports editor

Brett Brockinton threw a complete-game shutout while Clayton Gray and Dillon Thomas combined for seven RBIs as the Cabot Panthers dominated a 7A-Central game 10-0 against Fort Smith Northisde on Friday in Cabot.

The Panthers held a 5-0 lead when they posted five more in the bottom of the fifth inning to put an early end to the contest through the 10-runs-after-five-inn-ings sportsmanship rule.

Cabot got on the board early with two runs in the bottom of the second inning, both with two outs. Gray was standing on second base after a one-out double when Thomas came to bat with two outs. He singled to right field to drive in the first run, and advanced to second base on the throw to the plate trying to get Gray. Houston King then singled to score Thomas for the 2-0 lead.

Northside (5-16, 1-5) came close to scoring in the top of the second, but an outstanding play by center fielder Evan Hooper ended the inning.

Bobby Rauch reached with one out on a dropped strike three. Will Zuerker then singled. With two outs, Nate Hampton singled to center, where Hooper fielded the ball and threw out Rauch at home plate.

Cabot (14-5, 6-0) loaded the bases on two errors and a walk in the bottom of the second, but Thomas lined out with a hard shot to center field; his only at-bat that didn’t result in a run scored.

Bad defense and good small ball led to three more runs for Cabot in the bottom of the fourth inning.

Caleb Harpole led off by reaching on an error in center field, and Kyler Franks bunted him into scoring position. Blake McCutchen singled to center to put runners on the corners. Gray then doubled to left field to drive in both base runners.

Denver Mullins then reached and Gray moved to third on an error at shortstop. Thomas then sacrificed to score Gray for a 5-0 lead.

In the decisive fifth inning, Bobby Joe Duncan drew a walk to lead off. The next two batters went down, with Duncan moving to second on a one-out groundout by Harpole. Eric Larsen then singled to score Duncan to make it 6-0, and was replaced on the base paths by Kyler Franks.

McCutchen got his second base hit to set Gray up for his third RBI of the game when he singled to right field and scored Franks. Mullins singled to drive in McCutchen, and Thomas hit a walk-off, two-run double to put an end to the game.

Gray went 3 for 4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Thomas went 2 for 3 with one run and four RBIs. McCutchen went 2 for 4 and scored two runs.

Brockinton gave up four base hits while striking out three and walking zero.

The Panthers were scheduled to play at North Little Rock on Tuesday after Leader deadlines. They are scheduled to play at Catholic at 5 p.m. tonight. Look for information on those games in Saturday’s Leader.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke squeeze beats Beebe

Leader sports editor

The Lonoke Jackrabbits got a solid nonconference win Friday, coming from behind to beat rival Beebe 7-6 at Lonoke Ballpark. Both teams were saving key starting pitchers for upcoming conference games, and the Jackrabbits got a stellar performance from sophomore Will Roark. The sophomore threw the final three innings, giving up just one base hit while the Jackrabbits rallied from a 6-3 deficit.

“Will is a junior varsity second baseman who hasn’t really played any varsity,” said Lonoke coach Chris Foor. “He’s played, I think, one varsity game, but he came in and did a great job. He worked all three pitches anytime in the count, really kept them off balance.”

Foor also says Roark is his best bunter, and he stepped to the plate in the perfect situation in the bottom of the sixth inning. With one out and runners at first and third, Foor called for the safety squeeze and Roark laid it down perfectly. Kade Stuart walked in for the winning run without a throw.

“We had a runner at first so they had to hold him on,” said Foor. “I knew if (Roark) could get it down we’d score, and he executed. He had a great game.”

Despite having to rally for the win, Lonoke led 2-0 after one inning. Casey Martin bounced the first pitch of the game off the fence in center field for a leadoff triple. Hethen scored on a sacrifice fly to left by Daulton Smith.

Haven Hunter then singled and reached second on an error. Stewart walked before Tallon Swint hit into another error that scored Hunter for the 2-0 Lonoke lead.

Beebe (5-14-1, 1-5) scored one in the top of the second after Logan Sharp drew a leadoff walk. Three batters later with two outs, Jacob Rogers hit an RBI single to left field.

The Badgers took the lead in the top of the third with three runs. Nine-hole hitter Hunter Lawrence drew a leadoff walk, followed by another BB by Carson McNeil. Blaine Burge singled to drive in one run, and another two scored when Sharp’s hard grounder to third base was mishandled and rolled into shallow left field.

Lonoke (12-8, 7-1) got one back when Hunter got hit by a pitch, and later scored on another Beebe error, but Beebe scored two more for a 6-3 lead in the top of the fourth.

Lawrence hit a leadoff single to start the fourth inning. It was the first batter Roark faced, and the only hit he allowed. McNeil reached on an error in left field and Burge was to load the bases. Bryson Halford later singled for a pair of RBIs.

The lead didn’t last long. Lonoke tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the fourth.

Kameron Cole reached second base on an error at third to start the rally. Martin walked and Smith was hit to load the bases. Hunter was then hit for the second time in the game, driving in the Jackrabbits’ first run of the inning. Stewart then smacked a two-RBI double to left field to make the score 6-6.

Neither team scored in the fifth inning. That set up Roark’s game-winning RBI bunt in the sixth before he sat Beebe down in order in the seventh. He struck out the first two batters before getting a can of corn to center field for the final out.

Stewart went 4 for 4 with a double and scored one run. Martin went 1 for 1 with a triple, was hit once, intentionally walked twice and scored two runs.

Beebe’s 7-8-9 hitters got three of the team’s four base hits. Rogers, Halford, Lawrence and Burge got one hit apiece for the Badgers.

Lonoke has a critical conference doubleheader at Central Arkansas Christian in North Little Rock scheduled to start at 4 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for Monday but was postponed because of rain. The Mustangs are also 7-1 in the 3A/4A District 9. The games will likely determine the top seed in the 4A-2 Conference tournament.

Beebe plays a nonconference game at Pulaski Academy on Thursday.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot girls defeat FSN, fall at home to Mounties

Leader sports editor

The Cabot softball team got an easy win on Friday, but suffered its third loss of the season, and second of the week, on Friday when it fell 5-0 to Rogers in a nonconference home game on Saturday.

On Friday, Cabot scored all of its runs in the first three innings to beat Fort Smith Northside 12-0 in five. Hannah Montgomery got the win in the circle, hit a home run and drove in half the Lady Panthers’ runs against the Lady Bears.

The scoring started in the bottom of the first inning a Rylie Hamilton walk was followed with back-to-back doubles by Grace Neal and Montgomery.

Kaitlyn Campbell opened up the bottom of a five-run second inning with a leadoff triple. She scored on a sacrifice fly by Anna Beth Duncan. Leah Gerald hit a hard line drive that went right to second base for the second out, but Cabot started a two-out rally after that.

Riley Walthall singled to third base before Hamilton doubled down the left-field line to make it 4-0. Neal walked to put two runners on base, and Montgomery smashed a home run over the fence in straightaway center field to make it 7-0.

Northside got its second base hit of the game in the top of the third, but couldn’t advance the runner beyond first base. Cabot then opened the bottom of the third with three-straight singles by Duncan, Gerald and Wathall that loaded the bases.

Hamilton then fouled off five pitches in battling back from a 0-2 hole to draw an RBI walk. Neal doubled to center field to drive in two runs and make the score 10-0.

Montgomery’s sac fly scored Hamilton, and a single by Lauren McCluskey scored Neal to set the final margin.

Northside (3-7, 1-5) got a one-out base hit in the top of the fourth, but Montgomery forced a double-play ball on the next at-bat. The Lady Bears got a pair of two-out singles in the fifth, but an infield pop-up ended the game.

Montgomery went 2 for 3 with six RBIs. Neal went 2 for 2 at the plate with a walk, three runs scored and two RBIs. Hamilton went 1 for 1 with twowalks, three runs and two RBIs.

McCluskey went 2 for 3 with one RBI.

Montgomery gave up five base hits in five innings of work for the win. She neither struck out nor walked anyone, and the Cabot defense committed no errors.

On Saturday, the Lady Panthers (14-3, 5-1) gave up three unearned runs while the bats were silent. Rogers pitcher Sadie Beeman threw a complete-game two-hitter with three strikeouts and one walk. The Lady Mounties scored two runs with two outs in the top of the first, and then three more in the sixth.

In the first inning with one runner on base, Faith Edwards hit an RBI double. Sarah Hulsey followed that with a single for the sudden 2-0 lead. Hulsey tried to move into scoring position on the next pitch, but was thrown out by catcher Tracy Hanson.

The Lady Panthers went down in order in the bottom of the first, but Montgomery hit a leadoff double to start the second frame. She never advanced. Aubrey Lee struck out, McCluskey popped up back to the mound, and Hamilton flew out to right field to end the threat.

Neal drew a one-out walk in the fourth, but never advanced, and Cabot did not have another base runner until the seventh inning.

Meanwhile, Rogers took advantage of a two-out error in the top of the sixth to post three more runs. The mishandled grounder to third led directly to one run scoring. Rogers (9-5, 5-1) then got two more base hits to drive in the final two runs of the game.

Neal hit a leadoff single in the bottom of the seventh before Montgomery popped up to shortstop. Lee then reached on an error at third that left runners safe at first and second. McCluskey lined out back to the mound, and Beeman quickly relayed to first for the game-ending double play.

EDITORIAL >> Preparing for cyber warfare

Twenty airmen graduated last month from the Air National Guard’s new cyber-skills validation course at Little Rock Air Force Base. The graduates represent the cutting edge of the Air Force’s concerted effort to train and develop future cyber missions.

The seven-week course consists of training in several critical mission areas, including digital forensics, industrial-control systems and vulnerability assessments – curriculum that the formal technical training course covers over seven months.

“Airmen come into the course with considerable cyber-maintenance experience, and are taught to use cyber in an operational way,” according to Lt. Col Erik Polz, commander of the Arkansas Air Guard’s 189th Operations Group. “They learn the importance of mission planning, briefing and debriefing and how to use cyber for defensive purposes, as well as how to prevent our enemies from using cyber offensively against us.”

Polz said the course was part of the war on terrorism and, in addition, graduates will support many other missions across the cyber domain.

You don’t have to look further than the Russian hackers who compromised last year’s presidential election or Russia’s hacking of the State Department in 2014 to realize urgent need for cyber defense and offense. Last week, hackers triggered Dallas’ massive tornado-warning system, setting off dozens of sirens that blared for 90 minutes.

The cyber skills validation course is designed to tap into the skills that many Reserve airmen already possess from their civilian careers and turn them into mission-capable troops that will be in high demand by state and national leaders.

According to Capt. Scott Anderson, 189th Operations Group Detachment 1 director of operations, “This course builds on the knowledge, skills and ability that students have previously learned and validates that they have what it takes to serve in the cyber warfare career field.” Anderson said.

He said the mission could grow as more airmen are taught the critical skills needed to combat hackers around the world. The course will be conducted quarterly but could be a regular feature at the base as facilities become available and the demand for highly skilled cyber operators increases. Someday, more active duty and Air Force Reserve students could take the course as their skills are needed.

Once again, Little Rock Air Fore Base is on the cutting edge in the global effort to defend America.

TOP STORY >> DAR chapter holds awards ceremony

The Major Jacob Gray Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution held its annual awards ceremony on Saturday at the Jacksonville Museum of Military History.

Award recipients included state Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), former state Rep. Sandra Prater (D-Jacksonville) and Phyllis Stewart, chief of staff for the Jacksonville-North Pulaski School District.

The awards were presented after reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and the American’s Creed.

Ty Brendan Copeland, a senior at Cabot High School, was recognized as the chapter’s DAR Good Citizen winner. Taylor Rayanne Toombs, a Jacksonville High School senior, was runner-up, as was Haley N. Owens, a Beebe High School senior, who was unable to attend the ceremony.

“The NSDAR DAR Good Citizens Committee recognizes and rewards senior high school students who exemplify the qualities of a good citizen: Dependability, service, leadership and patriotism. The students are selected by their respective schools for this honor. As the chapter winner, Ty Copeland’s entry was submitted for consideration at the state level. They were presented certificates, wallet cards, lapel pins, and a small monetary award by committee chair Mary Ford,” according to a news release from Junelle Mongno.

Delaney Daniel of Beebe High School won the group’s annual $750 scholarship. He was unable to attend and will be honored at the chapter’s May meeting.

The Women in American History subcommittee of the NSDAR American History Committee recognizes women who have contributed to their communities.

Certificates were presented to English, Prater and Mary Lee Schultz by DAR chapter regent Jayne Spears, Mary Ford and Junelle Mongno.

English has served in the state Senate’s 34th District since 2013. She was state representative for the 42nd District from 2009-13.

Prater, a registered nurse, served in the Arkansas House of Representatives for the 42nd District from 2003-09. She serves on the board of directors of CareLinks and Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families.

Schultz is an Arkansas State Society DAR honorary state regent, having served as state regent from 2008-10.

She was instrumental in founding the Rock Society of the Children of the American Revolution, sponsored by the Major Jacob Gray chapter and is the ASDAR state C.A.R. committee chair. She volunteers with many groups.

Stewart was honored for helping launch the new Jacksonville school district. She is resigning from the district this summer.

Two posthumous awards were also given to the late Murrell Taylor and Dr. Ruth Couch.

Taylor was recognized for her contributions to the education of Jacksonville children. An elementary school carries her name today.

Couch was emeritus professor of English and the first female vice chancellor for academic affairs at ASU-Beebe. She was the first person to become a full professor at ASU-Beebe. She served as director of the Beebe Chamber of Commerce for 10 years and authored historical booklets.

TOP STORY >> Speaker: Guns critical

Leader staff writer

Fear is what drives challenges to the Second Amendment to the Constitution, which gives people the right to keep and bear arms, Col. Dennis Humphrey said at the Lonoke County Republican’s Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday at the Cabot Freshman Academy School.

Humphrey commands the Arkansas Army National Guard Marksmanship Training Center at Camp Robinson. He is an Army and National Guard veteran with 26 years of service with two tours in Iraq. He is also an English professor at Arkansas State University-Beebe.

“The reason people have the right to keep and bear arms is to keep their own government from becoming abusive. Second Amendment supporters must educate people not be scared of guns and act responsibly with them. It is not something that can’t be taken away. If you frighten them enough, they might get enough supporters to do it,” Humphrey warned.

“All it takes is the reshuffling of the Supreme Court and things can change. If enough people in America decide ‘we don’t want this anymore,’ they can pass a Constitutional amendment that would repeal the Second Amendment,” Humphrey said.

He pointed to the 18th Amendment, which prohibited alcohol but was repealed 13 years later with the 21st Amendment.

“The people on the other side of the issue are motivated by fear. They are scared people have the right to keep and bear arms. It saddens me. They seem more afraid of the guns than the people carrying them,” Humphrey said.

“Never under estimate the power of frightened people. If they are scared enough and there are enough of them they can go after that right. There are people scared on our side of the issue, too,” Humphrey continued.

He talked about what happened after the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., where 20 students and six adults were murdered.

“The next day the gun stores looked like a bread aisle after an ice storm forecast. You could not find a box of .22-caliber shells. There were people secretly calling Walmart to find out when the next truck was coming in. People were afraid if they waited one more day, they would not get any. They were sure President Obama was going to ban guns. They were buying everything off the shelves,” Humphrey said.

Gun-rights supporters have to manage their fears, because acting emotionally escalates the fears of opponents.

“What we can’t let happen is the scale tip the other direction,” he said.

Humphrey said the ability to carry a concealed handgun on college campuses was fought hard by colleges around the state. Schools did not want to allow it, and the legislature took it out of their hands.

The new law requires up to eight hours of active-shooter training for a person with a concealed handgun license who is 21 years old or older to be able to carry a handgun on state college campuses, bars and government buildings.

The law takes effect Sept. 15. State Police have until January to develop training guidelines.

“Do you think it is going to be very long before someone challenges the fact you have to take a course to do it? Do any of other Constitutional rights need a course to enjoy?” Humphrey said.

“I’ve been asked, since the law has been passed, ‘Are you going to carry?’ Why would I volunteer to be the only person on campus that I knew didn’t have a gun?”

People asked him what he would do if a shooter comes into a room. “The first thing I’m going to do, knowing potentially everybody in the room is armed, is I’m going to hit the floor, because the initial crossfire is going to intense,” he said.

TOP STORY >> Majority of council supports new chief

Leader staff writer

Despite concerns from Alderman Tara Smith, some members of the police department and others, Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher is standing by his decision to hire Geoffrey Herweg to head the city’s police department, even though he pleaded guilty 15 years ago to a misdemeanor.

Herweg, who is being sworn in Friday, was set to be in town Tuesday to talk privately to members of the police department, but didn’t arrive in Jacksonville until late Tuesday evening.

“He’ll meet with the department today,” Fletcher said.

“I’m staking my credibility on his credibility,” the mayor said. “I’m not worried about whether he can hold a gun or write tickets. I want a leader who has the ability to produce leaders, and Herweg is that person.”

Herweg told The Leader on Tuesday that once he starts, his first job will be an internal review of the department. “I’ve seen it from the outside, but I need to look at it from the inside and see the strengths, weaknesses and needs. I know patrol vehicle and pay will be high on the list,” Herweg said.

He said the review would include talking to the commanders, the captains, the sergeants and would take about a month.

But, Smith points out, the council can override the mayor’s pick by a two-thirds vote, although there doesn’t seem to be six aldermen ready to vote for ouster. She made it clear Tuesday that she has not changed her stance that Herweg — who was until last week the deputy police chief in Lovington, N.M. — is the wrong man for the job. She cannot believe he was the best choice among 31 applicants.

“The NAACP and the FOP have both raised concerns regarding the hiring of Mr. Herweg,” Smith said. “And did he really meet the job ‘requirements?’ According to an FOI, he did not.”

Smith reiterated that the city council has the power to un-hire Herweg at next week’s council meeting with a 7-3 vote.

“Council members should know that the community and our officers will be watching to see who votes which way. Let’s stick to the facts and go back to the applicant pool to find a new police chief,” she said.

“The Jacksonville Police Department and our citizens deserve a police chief with exceptional leadership skills, solid credibility and ethical standards, and undeniable integrity,” Smith added.

But at this point, Aldermen Terry San-sing, James Bolden, Mike Traylor, Kenny Elliott, Mary Twitty and Kevin McCleary all seem to be backing the mayor and Herweg.

Aldermen Les Collins and Barbara Mashburn did not return phone calls before press time.

Bolden stands by the mayor’s decision. “It’s the mayor’s job to hire department heads, not the aldermen’s job. I’m not going to condemn a man until he has a chance, and everyone deserves a second chance,” he said.

Twitty said she has been assured by retiring Police Chief Kenny Boyd and Fire Chief Alan Laughy that Herweg was “by far the best of the applicants. I have to trust those that were in on the interviews and trust their judgment.”

Twitty still wants to meet with with Herweg one on one, perhaps as soon as this week. “There are two sides to every story, but I do have some questions I want answers to,” Twitty said.

Members of the selection committee – the mayor, Director of Administration Jim Durham, Human Resource Director Jill Ross, Chief Boyd and Fire Chief Laughy – unanimously voted for Herweg over the No. 2 choice, Deputy Chief Kenneth Scott of the Orleans Parrish Sherriff’s Department in Louisiana.

Herweg pleaded guilty 15 years to filing a false police report, a misdemeanor, stemming from an incident two years earlier than that.

The selection committee was well aware of the Class B misdemeanor of an “accident involving less than $200 damage to a vehicle” and “filing a false police report.”

In a plea deal, the accident charges were dropped for a guilty plea for “filing a false police report.”

The incident cost Herweg his Texas law-enforcement license, and he left the state out of embarrassment, he said.

Fletcher said, “How many times does this guy have to start over and atone for his mistake? A mistake made 17 years ago. I truly believe once he gets here, within six months, we’ll all be glad he’s our chief.”

The Leader has sent eight Freedom of Information Act requests to Williamson County in Texas, Taylor, Texas, and Lovington, seeking official information regarding the charges, the case and the circumstances of the incident.

Alderman Sansing, who met Herweg when the chief-to-be was in town after his final interview, said he was aware of the old incident and it was a non-issue. “I’m very impressed with his credentials,” he said.

Alderman Kevin McCleary said, “I’ve not met the new chief, but everything I’ve heard about him is positive. And we’ve all made mistakes in our lives. I do want to meet and talk with him, but I think as all the details come out, Jacksonville residents will understand.”

According to court records from Williamson County, Texas, Herweg’s incident occurred on Christmas Eve 2000 while he was a police officer in Taylor, Texas.

Court records indicate a sentence of three days with credit given for two days served, though Herweg said he actually spent only an hour in jail and that was during the booking process.

Herweg said he fell asleep at the wheel and crashed into a garage door and then drove home.

The new police chief said, “I fell asleep hard, and after the crash just drove home. When I was questioned about it a short time later, I was still coming out of that fog and didn’t tell the truth. But a few hours later I went to the chief and reported it properly, saying I was at fault.”

He added, “I lost my integrity at first, but then got it back.”

Herweg later took a job patrolling Lake Pleasant, Ariz., and then went to work for the Tonopah nuclear plant before going overseas as a security contractor in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He called the background checks for the overseas jobs as a “colonoscopy on steroids.” Herweg said the application included 40-pages of background and personal history. He had to be heavily scrutinized to get the nuclear position, too.

With the security clearances he received through the Department of Defense and the Department of State for those positions, he feels what happened 17 years ago should be behind him.