Friday, April 28, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot beaten by Bryant

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team lost for the first time in conference play Thursday at Brian Wade Conrade Field. The Panthers fell 3-1 in extra innings to the Bryant Hornets after scoring in the bottom of the sixth to tie the game.

The starting pitchers, Beaux Bonvillain of Bryant and Logan Gilbertson of Cabot, who will be staff mates at UCA next year, turned in two phenomenal performances.

Cabot’s Blake McCutchen had Bonvillian’s number. The senior shortstop went 4 for 4 and scored the team’s only run. The rest of the Panthers went 1 for 25 against the hard-throwing lefty.

McCutchen’s third hit led off the sixth inning, and Bryant outfielder Myers Buck fell down as he attempted to field it on the hop. McCutchen made it all the way to third base on the single/E7. Clayton Gray hit a hard grounder to second for the first out, and McCutchen had to hold at third. Denver Mullins then hit another grounder back to the mound. Though McCutchen still wasn’t able to score, Mullins reached when Bonvillain could get hold of the ball to make a throw to first.

Dillon Thomas then bunted back to the mound on a squeeze play. With McCutchen charging home, Bonvillain again failed to grasp the ball. Thomas gets the RBI on the E1 because the speedyshortstop was going to beat the ball to home plate regardless of a clean play.

McCutchen’s final base hit came with two outs in the seventh, but he was picked off on a controversial move by Bonvillain that drew protests from Cabot coaches. Bryant then took the lead in the top of the eighth.

Matthew Sandage hit a leadoff single off Gilbertson, and Buck sacrificed him to second base. Brandon Hoover then grounded to shortstop and Sandage took off for third base. McCutchen decided to get the lead runner, but his throw hit Sandage and ricocheted into foul territory towards left field. That allowed Sandage to trot in for the 2-1 lead.

With Konnor Clontz standing on second running for Sandage, Seth Tucker grounded out and Clontz moved to third. Gilbertson walked the next two batters to load the bases before being replaced by Michael Shepherd.

Logan Chambers hit another grounder to short that McCutchen failed to wrangle, allowing Clontz to score the game’s final run.

Bryant’s Will McEntire took Bonvillain’s place and retired the Panthers in order in the bottom of the eighth for the win.

“Our first at-bat, we fouled a few off and then got a base hit,” said Cabot coach Ronnie Goodwin. “We didn’t get him around, but we really made their pitcher work. “Our next guy made him throw about 10 pitches. But we didn’t keep that up. I don’t want to take anything away from the kid. He’s a great pitcher and did a great job, but I think we could’ve had better at-bats tonight and maybe forced him out of there a little sooner,” Goodwin said.

Cabot (20-7, 11-1) is still alone in first place in the 7A-Central. North Little Rock is a game behind while Bryant (16-7, 9-3) is in third and Conway fourth at 8-4.

On Tuesday, Cabot squandered an early lead by giving up four runs in the second inning, all on one swing, but made up for it right away en route to a 10-5 victory at Central High.

Neither team played great defense. Two Cabot errors led to four unearned runs by the Tigers. Central committed four errors and gave up six unearned runs.

All five Central runs were scored off Brett Brockinton, but only one was earned. He threw 4 1/3 innings for the win, giving up four hits with nine strikeouts and three walks.

Brodey Schluter and Michael Shepherd finished it out with allowing a base runner. Schluter pitched the rest of the fifth and the sixth inning, striking out two and walking no one. Shepherd also fanned two with no walks in one inning of work to earn the save.

McCutchen led the way at the plate, going 3 for 4 with two RBIs. King was also 3 for 4, driving in one run and scoring two. Denver Mullins went 2 for 5 with a double.

Aaron Mann did all the damage for Central. He went 3 for 3 and got all four RBIs on a grand slam in the third inning.

SPORTS STORY >> Lonoke rolls at District

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

The Lonoke baseball team punched its ticket to the East Regional tournament next week by hammering Baptist Prep 18-1 on Tuesday in the first round of the 4A-2 District tournament at Southside-Batesville.

The third-seeded Jackrabbits followed that up with a dominant 9-0 win over two-seed Heber Springs on Thursday.

After a scoreless first inning, and an Eagle home run in the top of the second, the Jackrabbits were off and running with an eight-run second inning on Tuesday.

Tallon Swint walked around the bases after his fielder’s choice was followed by three-straight walks totie the game. Kameron Cole then hit a sacrifice grounder that scored Keith Lingo, and Lonoke never trailed again.

Leadoff hitter Casey Martin came back to the plate for a two-RBI double, and Daulton Smith drove in Martin with a single to right field.

Haven Hunter singled to put two runners on. That set up a three-run bomb to left field by Kade Stuart that put the Jackrabbits up 8-1.

Lingo started a three-run third inning with a leadoff single. Caleb Horton walked and the runners moved up on a sacrifice bunt by Christian Cooper. Cole walked to load the bases, and Martin got another two-RBI base hit for a 10-1 lead.

Cole later scored on an error to put Lonoke up by 10 runs.

Lonoke added seven more in the fourth, which again started with a Stuart single. He moved to second when his shot to left field was misplayed, and scored on a base hit by Swint. Walks to Lingo and Horton loaded the bases, and a base hit by Cooper scored Swint to make it 13-1.

With one out and the bases still loaded, Martin hit another two-RBI double. Smith walked again, but during his at-bat Will McNeil scored on a wild pitch. Haven Hunter then reached on an error at first base that allowed Martin to score for a 17-1 lead. Another error saw Chase Rogers score to set the final margin.

Baptist Prep (9-16-1) needed eight runs to keep the game from ending after the top of the fifth inning and didn’t get a base runner. Stuart took the mound and got a groundout and two Ks to put a stamp on the win.

Jeremiah Johnson’s home run accounted for the Eagles’ only run.

For Lonoke (18-10), Martin went 3 for 4 with two doubles, two runs scored and six RBIs. Stuart went 3 for 4 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs.

Stuart also pitched all five innings, giving up just three hits with three strikeouts and zero walks.

On Thursday, Martin took the mound and threw a complete-game two-hitter, retiring the last 11 batters in a row as the whole Lonoke lineup hit the ball.

Lonoke scored three in the first inning after Martin started by reaching on an E1. After Smith grounded out to second base, Hunter, Stuart and Swint hit consecutive singles for the 3-0 lead.

The Jackrabbits’ next productive inning also started with an error, this time off the bat of Hunter. Stuart and Swint followed with two more singles and Keith Lingo’s sacrifice fly made it 5-0.

In the fourth, Cole drew a leadoff walk, and Hunter got a two-out, RBI base hit to make it 6-0.

In the sixth, Cooper singled and Cole walked again to set up a three-run home run by Martin that set the final margin.

SPORTS STRORY >> Badgers, Lady Bears again

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

The Beebe boys won a tight meet, and the Sylvan Hills girls ran away from the field as both repeated as conference champions at the 5A-Central meet Tuesday at Beebe’s Bro Irwin Stadium.

It is the third-straight conference title for the Beebe boys, who have also not finished any worse than second for the last eight years. It’s also the Sylvan Hills girls’ third-straight league title.

In the boys’ meet, the Badgers wrapped up the championship in the next-to-last event. Beebe led by nine points going into the finals of the 3,200-meter race. While Little Rock Christian Academy’s Josh Franco won the event by half the track with a time of 10:55.47, Beebe’s Gus McCoy, Sean Langley, Dylan Owens and Colin Brock all placed and combined for 18 points.

Beebe finished with 149 points with Parkview coming in second with 133. Sylvan Hills scored 125 for third and McClellan had 119.50 for fourth place. LRCA scored 91, J.A. Fair 21.5 and Mills 10 to round out the event.

That put the margin out of reach with only one event, the 4x400-meter relay, remaining.

“We started out bad,” said Beebe coach Mark Pinkerton. “We didn’t do what we thought we would in the shot put, but then we had some guys step up in the discus, and we went second, third fourth and seventh. That’s 21 points when I was counting on about 13 maximum. We had a pretty good day from there.”

Tyler Long, Garrett Grier, Hunter Newman and Maverick Payne were the Badgers to place in the discus. Payne also took third in the shot put, but no other Badger placed in that event.

K.J. O’Neal scored four points in the high jump. The pole vault wasn’t a strong field with only five competitors, but Beebe took the top four spots for 29 points.
Nathan Clifton got Beebe twopoints in the long jump. Logan Archer scored 13 points in the hurdles, finishing second in the 300 meter and fourth in the 110 meter.

McCoy also took second in the 1,600-meter race behind Franco, finishing just 1.43 seconds behind the Warrior with a time of 4:52.70. Langley, Mike Russell and Owens took fourth, fifth and seventh, respectively.

Beebe took fourth in 4x100-meter relay and fifth in the 4x400. O’Neal finished seventh in the 400-meter dash.

Sylvan Hills scored many of its points in the hurdles, which were both won by Anthony Duncan. He left the field behind in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 15.09. Second place Lee Rudley of McClellan finished a second and a half behind, and Sylvan Hills’ Darius Wadell was third, giving the Bears 16 points from the event.

The 300 hurdles was a closer event. Archer jumped out to an early lead, but Duncan’s speed kicked in down the stretch and won the event by .13 seconds with a time of 41.80. Wadell was fifth for four points.

Malik Bean and Ty Compton finished third and fourth in the 100-meter dash for 11 points. The duo finished second and fourth in the 200-meter dash.

The Bears finished second in both relays. Waddel, Calvin Jefferson and Aaron Hunter went fourth, fifth and sixth in the 400-meter dash for 12 points.

Daylon Raynor scored five points total by taking fifth in the 3,200-meter race and eighth in the 1,600.

The Lady Bears finished with 272 points, beating second place Parkview by almost as many points as Parkview scored, which was 138. LRCA was a distant third with 79 points. Beebe was right behind that with 78.50. Mills finished with 42 and Fair had 12.5.

Sophomore Mia Heard was the team’s high point getter. She won the long jump and 100-meter dash, and was second in the 200-meter dash and triple jump.

The Lady Bears won eight total events and swept the top three spots in half of those. Makaila Murphy, Daviunia Jones and Dasia Harris went one, two and three in the high jump.

Heard, Aliya Hatton and Ayana Harris did the same in the 100-meter dash. O’Shayla Muldrow, Jones and Jordan Sanders did it in the 400-meter dash. Muldrow, Heard, Ayana Harris and Alexis Lee swept the top four spots in the 200-meter dash.

The Lady Bears also won the 4x100-meter relay in a close race with Parkview. They ran away in the 4x400 relay, winning by more than 15 seconds.

Dallyn Stubbs won the 800-meter race by seven seconds over Beebe’s Allie Lane. Allysia Marbley took third in that event.

The Lady Bears and Lady Badgers were the only two teams to enter athletes in the pole vault. Sylvan Hills finished first, second, fifth and sixth. Beebe filled in the gaps.

TOP STORY >> Holocaust survivors honored

By AIRMAN 1ST CLASS CODIE COLLINS
19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Little Rock Air Force Base held a candlelight vigil held Tuesday to honor the millions of people who perished in the Holocaust and its survivors.

Three guest speakers shared their stories to enlighten Team Little Rock about the history of those times.

Zwia Weiss, a Hungarian Jew and a Holocaust survivor, recounted her escape as a young girl from the Nazis.

“I moved from place to place to escape,” said Weiss, who now lives in Little Rock.

“I spoke such perfect German at a young age that the Nazis never assumed I was Jewish. It saved me many times.”

Weiss fought her way to freedom in the United States.

Every step of her journey, she fought for survival and a new life. At one point, she had to be smuggled through the Alps into Italy, where she would eventually gain access to a ship bound for America with forged Christian papers.

“America was the Promised Land,” Weiss said. “I was very young and I (knew I) had to get to America.”

The Statue of Liberty beckons people with the words inscribed on the tablet she holds: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”

Those words rang true for Weiss and many other survivors who eventually sought safe haven in the United States.

It was that struggle for life and freedom that service members and civilians honored during the vigil. At its conclusion, candles were lit in honor of the approximately 11 million Jews, Romani, homosexuals, physically and mentally disabled, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Poles and Slavic victims of the Holocaust.

“Taking a moment of silence to reflect while everyone in the room is holding a candle is a great way to show that we are all united about a common cause,” said U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Sarah Hubert, 19th Airlift Wing chaplain assistant.

“The true significance (of the) candles is when you are surrounded by darkness, the light of a glowing candle helps one reflect. It can also symbolize a new beginning for some, and remembrance for others,” Hubert said.

TOP STORY >> Nominees sought for historic district

The Jacksonville Historical District is accepting award nominations through Sunday for volunteers who have had a positive impact on the community. There are five award categories: Citizen of the year, volunteer of the year, veteran of the year (active duty or retired), independent business of the year and realtor of the year.

The group will hold its first annual awards banquet and silent auction June 28 at the Jacksonville Community Center. Tickets for the dinner are $20 and will go on sale in May.

To recommend someone for the awards, send a short story about the person’s background and accomplishments and mail it to the Jacksonville Historical District, P.O. Box 6507, Jacksonville, Ark. 72078, or email it to historicaldistrict@gmail.com.

Be sure to indicate the award for which the nominee is being recommended. Include the nominee’s name, address, telephone, occupation or business, memberships in civic groups, offices held, honors received and summarize activities engaged in by the nominee.

For more information, call Alderman Barbara Mashburn at 501-765-0767.

TOP STORY >> Suit insists police chief must resign

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville Alderman Tara Smith filed a lawsuit Wednesday to have the new police chief removed immediately. She claims he’s ineligible for the job because of his criminal record.

The mayor hired Geoffrey Herweg, 53, from Lovington, N.M., about two weeks ago after the selection committee unanimously chose him from 31 applicants despite Herweg having a Class B misdemeanor 17 years ago for filing a false police report after he left the scene of an accident in Texas.

Smith filed suit in Pulaski County Circuit Court, as a resident of Jacksonville, claiming that the mayor is illegally spending city money by giving Herweg a paycheck.

She is not only asking for the immediate dismissal of the chief but also a judgment that the city, by paying the chief, made illegal and improper payments, which constitutes an illegal use of city money.

She also wants the chief barred from ever holding the top law-enforcement position in Jacksonville and wants all money paid to Herweg to be refunded to the city.

Smith is suing Mayor Gary Fletcher for hiring Herweg, City Clerk and Treasurer Susan Davitt for signing city checks to Herweg and also Herweg, because he shouldn’t be the police chief, she argues.

According to the complaint, Fletcher violated the state constitution when he hired someone who was guilty of “an infamous crime.”

The attorney general’s office is reviewing opinions to find out if Herweg’s hiring violates state law.

According to Smith’s lawyer, former Rep. Nate Steel, an “infamous crime” is defined bythe state as “any misdemeanor offense in which the finder of fact required to find, or the defendant to admit, an act of deceit, fraud or false statement.”

ARKANSAS ACT 724

He says in the complaint that Act 724 of 2013 clarifies it even further: “Infamous crime” includes any crime that leads to a loss of public confidence as well as offenses in the nature of perjury or subordination of perjury, false statement, criminal fraud, embezzlement, false pretenses, or any other offense that involves some element of deceitfulness, untruthfulness or falsification.”

Steel further states in the complaint that anyone convicted of an “infamous crime” not eligible to be in the “General Assembly or capable of holding any office of trust or profit in this State.”

The section in the state Constitution Smith refers to in her suit specifically lists only the General Assembly.

State law also gives exclusive rights to a mayor to appoint his own department heads as long as the appointment is not overridden by two-thirds vote of the council.

No other Jacksonville aldermen support Smith’s efforts to oust the chief.

According to Smith’s complaint, “The position of chief of police is an office of public trust or profit as set forth in Article 5, Section 9 of the Constitution of the State of Arkansas and its judicial and legislative interpretation. Thus, Herweg is and should be prohibited from holding the office of Chief of Police in the State of Arkansas.”

Herweg was charged on Christmas Eve in 2000 with causing an accident with damage of more than $200 and filing a false police report.

On the way home from a party, he ran into a garage door, left the scene, got his vehicle stuck in the mud farther down the road and walked home.

He told police at the time that the car was stolen. Herweg told The Leader, he called his chief two hours later, explained that the accident was his doing and that he would come in and amend the report.

In a plea deal, the district attorney dropped the accident charge for a guilty plea on filing a false report. Herweg was also stripped of his Texas law-enforcement license.

Smith’s suit also claims Herweg is a “Brady Cop,” a police officer with a history of deceit, but he is not listed as one in Texas, New Mexico or Arkansas and has not been subjected to that label in any case he was involved in. The suit maintains Herweg, as the police chief, “jeopardizes every investigation, arrest and prosecution; which in turn jeopardizes public safety.”

She has not met with Herweg or the mayor over her concerns and now that the suit has been filed, city officials have been told by the city attorney not to discuss the case.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

SPORTS STORY >> Wolves strong on both ends

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

Jacksonville Lighthouse’s soccer team stayed in a tie for second place in the 4A-3 Conference standings with a dominant 6-0 win over Buffalo Island Central on Monday at Burns Park. Wolf coach Christopher Felty thought each half of Monday’s match was one of his team’s better performances in different ways.

“I thought offensively, the first half we played really smart, communicated and moved the ball really well,” said Felty. “The second half it was our defense that I thought was much better than it had been at times. We’ve had a tendency to let things get behind us at times, either with through balls or over the top. We were really focused on that and didn’t let that happen. If we can put those two things together on Thursday, we’ll give ourselves a really good chance to be successful.”

Lighthouse (13-3, 9-1) hosts Heber Springs on Thursday. The Panthers are also 8-1 in conference play, and the winner will secure a No. 2 seed in the upcoming state tournament. Conway St. Joseph is undefeated in league play and has already locked up at least a share of the league title. CSJ (9-1, 9-0) has also secured the league’s No. 1 seed in state by having already beaten both teams that could still tie it for the conference championship. Even that is unlikely. St. Joseph’s two remaining opponents are well below .500.

In Monday’s match, The Wolves dominated from the start. Cristian Rivera scored two quick goals and Antonio Arias added another in the first 20 minutes of the match. Lighthouse had lots more shots on goal and kept the ball on its offensive side of the field almost the entire half, but missed all of those shots.

That changed quickly again early in the second half.

In the opening seconds, BIC had its best shot of the match thwarted by goalkeeper Josh Huber. A blistering shot over the top from nearly 35 yards out came in just underneath the crossbar of the goal, but Huber made a leaping stab and knocked it over the goal for the save.

“He’s been outstanding,” Felty said of Huber. “He’s really been one of our star players.”

Just moments later, Lighthouse’s Arias got his second goal of the match when some nifty passing left him one-on-one with the BIC goalkeeper from 15 yards out in the middle of the field. Arias put the ball into the top left corner of the goal to make it a 4-0 game.

In the 13th minute of the second half, Jair Silva scorched a low shot from the right corner of the box into the bottom left corner of the goal for a 5-0 Lighthouse lead.

For the remainder of the match, Lighthouse got several more clean shots on goal, but were wide with all of them until the very last second of the game.

Just before time expired. Michael Vanbrocklin punched in the final goal and set the final margin.

Huber only had to save six shots on goal while Lighthouse took 33.

While not wanting to complain about a 6-0 win, inconsistent shooting is one area Felty believes has to improve as Heber Springs and the state tournament loom. The Wolves have one makeup game next Monday, and then a whole week off before the state tournament begins. It’s a welcome break, according to the head Wolf.

“We’ve played so much we haven’t really had much chance to just practice,” Felty said. “So I’m looking forward to the opportunity to have some time to work on some of those things we need to improve.”

SPORTS STORY >> Lady Bears beaten by White Hall

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

The Lady Bears lost a regular-season matchup of two teams with state title aspirations on Monday, falling 5-1 at home to White Hall in a nonconference game. The Lady Bears were coming off a 23-base hit, four-home run outing at Maumelle, but only managed four total base runners against the Lady Bulldogs.

Meanwhile, White Hall picked up 11 base hits, walked four times and took advantage of a Sylvan Hills error to compile its five runs.

The Lady Bulldogs (16-9-1, 8-3) took the lead with two runs in the top of the first inning and never trailed. Sylvan Hills turned a double play with two runners on, but withtwo outs, White Hall got a walk, a Sylvan Hills error and a base hit for a 1-0 lead. A third single of the opening inning, this one by Kirsten Wallace, made it 2-0.

In the top of the second, the first four White Hall batters reached base on two singles, a double and a walk that made it 3-0. After an infield pop-up, Henley Tucker singled to score Blair Quaries for a 4-0 Bulldog advantage.

In the fourth inning, Wallace hit a leadoff single, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Taylor Akins, stole third base and then scored on an RBI base hit by Quaries.

Sylvan Hills’ lone run came on the second pitch of the bottom of the fourth inning when MacKenzie Rodgers hit a leadoff home run to right field.

Cara Pozza hit a double while Doma’Nique Hunt and Tristen Goodson got one single apiece for Sylvan Hills. Lynlee Broadway took the loss after going all seven innings in the circle.

The Lady Bears (18-8, 12-0) completed league play Tuesday with a road doubleheader at Pulaski Academy. Look for details of those games in Saturday’s Leader. Weather permitting, they are scheduled to face Beebe at home on Thursday, and then play at Vilonia on Friday.

SPORTS STORY >> CHS ladies no trouble at Conway

By RAY BENTON
Leader sports editor

In the first softball meeting this season between Cabot and Conway, the Lady Panthers committed some early errors and fell behind before rallying for a 5-2 victory.

There was no such trouble in a 10-0 rematch at Conway on Thursday. The Lady Panthers opened the game with a five-spot in the first inning, and went on to a dominant victory in five innings.

The Lady Panthers got 13 base hits and nobody struck out, while pitcher Lauren McCluskey threw a five-hit shutout for the win in the circle.

Cabot’s big first inning started with a one-out double by Bethany Knowles. Grace Neal walked and Hannah Montgomery loaded the bases with a single to right field.

Aubrey Lee then lined a double down the left-field line to score Knowles and Neal and leave two in scoring position.

McCluskey popped up in the infield for the second out, but Riley Hamilton tripled to center field for a 4-0 Cabot lead. She then scored on a passed ball to cap the early rally.

Walthall reached on an error to start the top of the second inning, and scored three batters later on a two-out single by Montgomery.

The score remained 6-0 until the top of the fifth, when four more Cabot runs forced Conway (12-11-1, 5-5) into a mercy-rule situation in the bottom half of the inning.

Hamilton led off the decisive fifth with a double to left field. Anna Beth Duncan singled hit a single to shallow center field that left Hamilton unable to advance.

Leah Gerald hit a hard line drive on the next at-bat, but right to Conway right fielder Brynn Schuetter for the first out. Walthall then singled to left to load the bases.

Knowles flew out to left, leaving the bases still loaded. Neal then walked to make it 7-0, and Montgomery made it a double-digit lead with a bases-clearing double to center field.

Conway needed a run to keep the game going, but didn’t come close. Lindsey Williams hit an infield single with two outs, but Tremere Harris lined to Hamilton at shortstop to end the game without the runner advancing.

Cabot (21-3, 10-1) added an 11-1 nonconference road win over Greene County Tech on Monday.

There was no huge inning in the six-inning affair. Cabot got two in the first inning, three in the third, three in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth.

Hannah Montgomery and Aubrey Lee each hit home rums and finished with three RBIs. Montgomery went 3 for 4 at the plate while Knowles went 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

McCluskey got the win in the circle, giving up four hits and one earned run with five strikeouts and two walks.

The Lady Panthers will host a huge 7A-Central matchup with league-leading Bryant on Friday. The Lady Hornets own the only conference win over Cabot, a 3-1 decision on April 4 at BHS.

SPORTS STORY >> Titans on the mark in victory over GCT

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

In its most recent outing, the Jacksonville baseball team picked up a quality nonconference win at Dupree Park on Thursday. The Titans fell behind early, but got a solid relief effort from Jordan Wickersham on the mound, and came back to beat Greene County Tech 6-3.

Freshman starting pitcher Kyle Williams suffered some uncharacteristic struggle with control in the early going, but got two huge strikeouts to get out of a serious jam in thefirst inning. Tech opened with a base hit and a walk before an error at first base aided the Eagles’ first run of the game.

Another base hit drove in the second run. After one base runner was caught stealing by catcher Kameron Whitmore, Williams fanned Drew Mullins and Bo Carter to end the top of the first inning.

Jacksonville went down in order in the first inning, and Williams walked three of the first four batters of the second before being replaced by Wickersham. Inheriting loaded bases and one out, Wickersham got a line drive to shallow right field and a groundout to first base to thwart the threat.

The Titans took the lead in the bottom of the second. Caden Sample drew a leadoff walk and Jayden Loving got a one-out base hit to put two runners on for Joe Cummings. He singled to drive in a run before Quentin Stallard walked to the load the bases. Gabe Helsley struck out, but Whitmore singled for two RBIs to put the Titans up 3-2.

Tech put two on with no outs in the top of the third with a walk and a base hit, but a groundout and a strikeout followed. Wickersham then walked Zachary Duty to load the bases before striking out Caiden McFadden to get out of yet another jam.

In the bottom of the third, Trent Toney got a leadoff single. He moved to third base on groundouts by Sample and Wickersham, and scored on a wild pitch during Loving’s at-bat.

A leadoff walk by Cummings started the bottom of the fourth for Jacksonville. That was followed three batters later with a two-out Eagle error that made it 5-2.

GCT’s Landon Johnson smacked a 2-1 pitch over the wall in left field to start the fifth inning, but Wickersham got a groundout and back-to-back Ks to end any threat of a rally.

Jacksonville set the final margin with a one-out base hit by Stallard, and a two-out RBI base hit by Whitmore.

The senior back catcher went 2 for 4 with three RBIs for the Titans. Wickersham pitched 5 2/3 innings. He gave up just two hits, three walks and one earned run while striking out nine.

“That’s a good win,” said Jacksonville coach Larry Burrows. “We played well. Wickersham was awesome. They threw their best at us and we hit it. We only had six base hits, but we put the ball in play.”

Mullins took the loss on the mound for the Eagles.

Jacksonville (12-11, 6-6) played its last conference series of the season on Tuesday at Little Rock Christian Academy. Details of that game will be in Saturday’s Leader, but it had no impact on the Titans’ postseason status.

The meeting to determine seeding for the 6A-East Conference tournament was held Saturday. Jacksonville will be the four seed and host Pine Bluff at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Dupree Park.

SPORTS STORY >> Cabot hammers Wampus Cats

By RAY BENTON 
Leader sports editor

The Cabot baseball team has had a series of very close games in conference play this season, including an eight-inning, 1-0 win over Conway about a month ago. That was not the case last Thursday when the Panthers gave the return game to the Wampus Cats. Cabot won in convincing fashion, 14-2 in six innings.

Cabot jumped ahead early and dominated the whole way, pounding out 17 base hits while pitcher Logan Gilbertson gave up just five in going the distance for the win.

Five different Cabot players got multiple base hits, with catcher Denver Mullins leading the way with a 4 for 4 performance, including two doubles and two RBIs.

Cabot’s strong night started immediately with leadoff hitter Blake McCutchen reaching on an error at second base. That small crack in the Wampus Cat defense turned into an open floodgate.

Clayton Gray and Mullins followed with back-to-back doubles that quickly put the Panthers up2-0. Conway made another mistake by trying and failing to get Ty Cyr, Mullins’ courtesy runner, out at third on Dillon Thomas’ groundball to second. That left runners on the corners, but Houston King grounded into a 3-4-3 double play on the next at-bat while Mullins held at third.

Bobby Joe Duncan then singled to score Cyr before Evan Hooper doubled to left to put two runners in scoring position. Duncan then scored the fourth and final run of the inning on a passed ball before Caleb Harpole grounded out to end the rally.

Gilbertson issued his only two walks of the game in the bottom of the first inning, but got a line-drive out and a groundout to get out of the minor jam.

Both teams went down in order in the second inning, but Cabot (19-6, 10-0) added five more to its lead in the third. Mullins again started the rally with a leadoff single to left. Cyr again replaced him on the base paths and stole second base. Thomas doubled to left for the RBI, and King tripled to the wall in center field for a 6-0 Panther lead.

King scored on another Conway error off Duncan’s bat. Hooper then struck out and Duncan was caught stealing for two outs and nobody on, but Cabot wasn’t finished with the rally. Harpole, Kyler Franks and McCutchen hit consecutive singles for two more runs and a 9-0 lead.

Conway (13-7, 6-4) got ton the board in the bottom of the fourth when Cade Tucker hit a leadoff double and scored on the next at-bat when Jordan Wicks singled to centerfield. He shut down the quick rally right away. McCall Dail struck out and Gilbertson got Eli Davis to ground into a 6-4-3 double play.

The Panthers then got five doubles in the top of the sixth inning to make it 14-1. Gray, Mullins, King, Hooper and Evan Larsen each hit two-baggers, with a single sprinkled in by Thomas.

Conway needed four runs to keep from being mercy ruled, but only got one to put an early end to the contest.

Gray, Thomas, King and Hooper each went 2 for 4 at the plate. Gray had two doubles and everyone else had one.

The win keeps Cabot two games ahead of second-place North Little Rock in the 7A-Central race.

The Panthers added a nonconference shutout of Newport on Monday, beating the Greyhounds 11-0 at Conrade Field. Thomas went 3 for 3 with a double and three RBIs in that game. Mullins stayed hot, going 2 for 2 with a double and two RBIs. McCutchen and Brett Brockinton also got two base hits apiece in that win.

Michael Shepherd went 1 and 2/3 innings without giving up a hit and striking out two. Dylan Billingsley pitched 2 and 2/3, giving up one hit with seven strikeouts and three walks. Logan Gilbertson closed out the last two outs of the five-inning game with two strikeouts and one hit allowed.

Cabot played at Little Rock Central on Tuesday after Leader deadlines. Look for details of that game in Saturday’s Leader.

EDITORIAL >> Execution, Round 2

Marcel Wayne Williams lived four days longer than Ledell Lee. The two convicted murderers committed terrible crimes in Jacksonville more than 20 years ago. Only Lee, 51, proclaimed his innocence to the end, while Williams, 46, sought a stay of execution only because he said he was too sick to die.

Lee was executed last Thursday night. Williams and another killer, Jack H. Jones, 52, were executed minutes apart on Monday night. Lee sought holy communion when he exhausted his appeals but skipped his final meal. Williams, on the other hand, asked for a full plate of fried chicken, nachos, potato logs, two Mountain Dews and banana pudding. Jones, too, asked for fried chicken and more.

Lee had been in and out of prison since the 1980s, raping and killing whenever he could find helpless victims who were alone or with little children. He was convicted in the brutal beating death of Debra Reese, 26, in February 1993. Having known one of Lee’s rape victims who worked here at The Leader, the details of these horrible crimes are more gruesome and disturbing.

Williams was convicted for a 1994 killing that started with the kidnapping of Stacy Rae Errickson, 22, at a Jacksonville gas station. Williams’ attorneys argued that he had diabetes and was too overweight to be subjected to a lethal injection. Errickson was married to a deployed airman at Little Rock Air Force Base.

Another execution is set for Thursday. Gov. Asa Hutchinson had set execution dates for eight Arkansas killers earlier this year, but he might have to settle for half that number. It’s doubtful if there will be others before the cocktail of drugs expire this weekend.

It’s a stunning coincidence that the two murderers connected to Jacksonville were among the first to be executed this month. As far as we’re concerned, after this week, we don’t need more state-sanctioned killings.

EDITORIAL >> New chief applauded

Jacksonville Police Chief Geoffrey “Jeff” Herweg received a standing ovation at the city council meeting Thursday.

Alderman James Bolden set the tone for the meeting when he said, “I want to personally apologize to our new police chief” for criticism he received in recent weeks.

“I felt it was wrong,” Bolden said, referring to efforts to get the chief fired over an old police record in Texas.

“I can’t stand this negativity. It is our job to present a good picture of the city,” Bolden said.

On one side are the mayor and most of the council, who back the choice of the new police chief, or are at least willing to see how he works out. The mayor’s last department head pick, Fire Chief Alan Laughy, turned out to be solid, even excellent.

On the other side is a faction led by Alderman Tara Smith, who wants the police chief out now no matter what.

Facebook quotes against the mayor and his administration have gotten nasty as Smith continues to lead her opposition. At least two aldermen have received phone calls allegedly threatening their lives if they don’t vote to kick the police chief out. The calls all came from the same phone number. The council does have the right to override the mayor’s pick with a two-thirds vote, meaning at least five more aldermen siding with Smith.

That’s not going to happen, especially when Smith did not appear at the last council meeting to voice her concerns about the mayor’s pick.

Stuck in the middle are most residents who, since they don’t get arrested, don’t get traffic tickets, don’t get robbed or plundered, don’t worry that much about who is running the police department.

State law says the mayor picks his department heads. Don’t like his picks? The solution is easy: Vote the mayor out and have the new person fire all the department heads.

Until then, thank you, Chief Herweg, for your service.

TOP STORY >> Museum honors veterans of Vietnam War Saturday

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

The Jacksonville Museum of Military History will hold its sixth annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. The event is held indoors.

The museum will show the movie “Good Morning Vietnam” at noon. Seating is limited and must be reserved in advance.

An honor-and-remembrance ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. with a meal following. Tickets for meal must be purchased in advance.

There will be a large map of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia for veterans and Gold Star Families to sign to indicate their place of service. The map is part of the museum’s permanent display. There will also be live music and veterans and active duty service organizations with information booths.

“We are still doing it and will continue to hold the event. The Vietnam guys did not get a welcome they deserve. I personally remember on TV watching the protestors go to the planes. It is a scar on my heart how those guys were treated,” museum director DannaKay Duggar said.

She said the event is a way for the nation to learn from its mistake and ensure it does not do it again.

The museum is at 100 Veterans Circle. For more information, call 501-241-1943 or visit www.jaxmilmuseum.org.

Last week, Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) awarded Silver Stars to Vietnam War veterans Bob Monette of Madison, Ala., John DesLauriers of Galveston, Texas, Bruce Shearer of Glendale, Ariz., and Robert Frank of Leavenworth, Kan.

They made a visit to the military museum and talked about their war story.

On April, 18, 1972, the four flew their Army UH-1H “Huey” helicopter near An Loc in southern Vietnam. A C-130 attempting to make an air drop of supplies over An Loc was hit by enemy small- arms fire from the ground. A basketball-size hole was in the wing. The helicopter crew saw the C-130 flying with a wing on fire go down in a marsh. The plane broke in two sections from the crash.

The helicopter crew and a second helicopter went to rescue the C-130 crew.

They were able to rescue the seven-member C-130 crew, who were injured but survived. The Huey and C-130 crews reunited in 2005.

The Huey’s unit commander, Jack Shields of Maumelle, worked on their behalf since 2005 to have them awarded Silver Stars.

On hand for the ceremony in Little Rock were C-130 crew members Robert Kirkpatrick, Ralph Bemis and Charlie Armstead. They all made a stop at the military museum to talk about the awards.

“It was great. Today was the cream of the crop. They’ve been working on those for 12 years,” Ralph Bemis said.

TOP STORY >> Cabot hosts huge events on weekend

Cabot will host its 15th annual Strawberry Festival and a huge Civil War re-enactment this weekend.

Strawberry Festival will be held downtown on Friday and Saturday. Admission is free.

The Civil War re-enactment will be held Friday through Sunday at Changepoint Church, 3525 Hwy. 89. Organizers expect about 400 re-enactors and 3,000 spectators to attend.

Strawberry Festival starts at 6 p.m. Friday with food trucks and vendors. Local musicians take the stage with Justin Bratcher performing at 6 p.m. and Luke Williams at 7 p.m. Both are from Beebe.

The carnival will run from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday.

On Saturday the Run for the Berries, bubble-run begins at 7 a.m. behind the Fred’s store. It is a one-mile or a 5K timed race.

The Strawberry Festival kicks off at 9 a.m. It will have 100 vendors, 45 more than last year. The city will block the street in front of the police department giving more room for vendors. Eight food trucks will be offering items from barbecue to home cooking. The Junior Auxiliary will be selling strawberry shortcakes and strawberry lemonades.

Barnhill Orchards, Cabot Patch and Holland Bottom Farm will be selling strawberries. It’s best to arrive before noon because they sell out fast.

“A new thing for this year is the return of the Berry Patch Kids Zone. It is $5 entry per child for all day. There will be face painting, bounce houses, goodie bags and a Build-A-Pet with a custom Strawberry Festival shirt,” said Amy Hughes, president of the Junior Auxiliary, which organizes the festival.

The Miss Strawberry Fest pageant will be at 10 a.m. at the Freshman Academy. Contestants can register online at www.jacabot.com or at the event.

Saturday’s entertainment stage will feature school acts and local performing arts during the day. The Zac Dunlap Band of Little Rock plays from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Closing out the festival is country musician Barrett Baber of Nashville, Tenn., who will perform from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Marion native was a finalist on “The Voice” season nine. Baber released his album “A Room Full of Fighters” last year.

Proceeds from the festival fund Junior Auxiliary projects for the children of Cabot.

The Cabot Civil War Muster event will be led by re-enactors from the 1st Michigan Battery G.

Most of the re-enactors will come from around Arkansas, but many will travel from other states.

School groups are invited to attend the events to see what life was like in the 1860s.

“There will be historical demonstrations where the students will be able to stop and observe, touch and hear stories about the American Civil War. Children will be able to meet with soldiers from the infantry, artillery, cavalry and engineers, as well as field hospital personnel. They will also be able to see blacksmiths performing their trades, visit sutlers (Civil War-ear peddlers who sold their goods to soldiers) and check out local Civil War artifacts that will be on display,” the announcement said.

The activities on Saturday and Sunday will include battle re-enactments of the campaign for Little Rock, which was fought along the old highway from Little Rock to Searcy that runs directly behind Changepoint Church.

“On Saturday, we will be representing the Battle of Reed’s Bridge, which was the Confederate victory that thwarted the advance of the Union Army near Jackson-ville. Sunday’s battle will recreate the Battle of Fourche Bayou, which ended with the Union gaining control of the capital of Little Rock,” the group said.

These battles will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. In addition, there will be an artillery night fire Saturday evening at dusk on the main battlefield. Camps are open from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and noon-4 p.m. Sunday.

“Our sutlers are merchants that sell Civil War era goods, uniforms, dresses and novelties and are traveling from as far away as Florida to be with us for this event. We will also have local food vendors on site with a variety of favorite foods,” the announcement said.

For more information, visit 1stmichiganbatteryg.com, email batteryg@hotmail.com or view the group’s Facebook page, @1stMichiganBatteryG.

TOP STORY >> Second Jacksonville execution

A second killer convicted for crime sprees in Jacksonville was put to death late Monday night at Cummins Unit south of Pine Bluff.

Marcel Williams, 46, died four days after Ledell Lee, 51, was executed just before midnight Thursday for the murder of a Jacksonville woman in 1993.

Williams was injected with three fatal drugs at 10:16 p.m. He was pronounced dead at 10:33.

Jack H. Jones, 52, who was convicted for the murder of Mary Phillips, 34, a Bald Knob bookkeeper in 1995, was executed at 7:20 p.m. It was the first double execution in Arkansas in almost 17 years.

A fourth man, Kenneth Williams, 38, is scheduled to be executed on Thursday for the murder of a farmer near the prison Williams escaped from in Varner. The executions of four other convicted killers are on hold.

Williams was convict-ed for the murder of Stacy Rae Errickson, 22, who was kidnapped from a Shell station in Jacksonville in 1994. She was forced to make several ATM withdrawals before she was raped and strangled. Her body was found in North Little Rock.

For his last meal, Williams requested three pieces of fried chicken, banana pudding, nachos with chili cheese and jalapeƱo peppers, two Mountain Dews and potato logs with ketchup. Lee did not ask for a last meal.

Williams was tried in Pulaski County Circuit Court in 1995 and appealed the convictions to the Arkansas Supreme Court, which affirmed the jury’s death sentence in 1999.

Evidence showed Errickson died from strangulation. Her neck and face were severely bruised, and her hands were tied behind her back.

According to testimony, the victim’s nightmare began when she stopped at the Jacksonville Shellstop for gas around 6:45 a.m. Nov. 20, 1994.

Williams approached Errickson’s vehicle, pulled a gun and had her move from the driver’s seat to the passenger’s side.

He drove the vehicle away from the gas station, taking the victim to several ATMs, where she withdrew $360 in 18 transactions that were recorded on security cameras.

The last transaction was made at 7:37 p.m. Her body was found in a shallow grave on Dec. 5 in North Little Rock.

Williams also raped several other women during his crime spree.

TOP STORY >> Prison visit with Ledell Lee in 1994 still haunts

By GARRICK FELDMAN
Leader executive editor

(Ledell Lee, 51, was executed Thursday for the murder of Debra Reese in February 1993 in the Sunnyside neighborhood in Jacksonville. We interviewed him in prison in October 1994 as he awaited a second trial. There was a mistrial earlier that year when it was discovered a juror with a felony record who was related to Lee was on the jury.)

Ledell (Skip) Lee of Jacksonville, an accused double murderer and multiple rapist, was eager to tell his side of the story from behind bars at the Tucker Maximum Security Unit.

Early last week, Lee called from prison to complain about the distorted media coverage he’s getting and offered to talk in person about how the Jacksonville Police Department was trying to get him executed for crimes he didn’t commit.

“I’ll tell you the real story that’s going on,” he said on the phone. “You’ve heard total lies about me. No one wants to hear the truth. I want to shine some light on it. I’m not saying this just to make things look good. I have the paperwork to prove what I’m saying.”

Lee, 29, is accused of strangling 22-year-old Christine Lewis in November 1989 before he went to prison on a theft charge.

Only a week after he was released on parole a year later, he allegedly raped a 70-year-old woman, leaving her for dead.

Prosecutors also allege he raped and beat a 17-year-old babysitter in 1990, thinking he had drowned her in a ditch, but she survived. He is also accused of raping a 52-year-old woman in 1991.

He was arrested in the beating death of Debra Reese, 26, in February 1993. All the victims were from Jacksonville. The victims were white, except for Lewis.

He was also a suspect but hasn’t been charged in the murder of Carolyn Johnson, a black Jacksonville prostitute, who was last seen talking with Lee in front of a supermarket in 1991.

Facing the death penalty, Lee was tried earlier this month in Little Rock for the Reese murder, but a mistrial was declared when a woman with a felony record who was related to Lee lied about her past and got on the jury. Convinced that Lee could not get a fair trial, she deadlocked the jury 11-1. Another trial is set for May.

Deputy Prosecutor Holly Lodge believes that Lee is utterly without remorse. He has no conscience and does not want to admit he is a serial killer, especially to his family, which is convinced he’s innocent.

Lodge says she is “determined to get him off the street. I haven’t had a case more important than Lee.”

As you approach the red-brick prison in the middle of the cotton fields, it looks like a modern high school, except for the narrow windows you notice as you get closer. Even if the windows were broken, only a cat could squeeze through them.

If an inmate got out, he’d still have to climb a tall fence with barbed wire and hope to avoid the attention of guards in several watchtowers.

No one has escaped from there since 1985, when some inmates got out through a laundry room that was still under construction two years after the prison opened.

A guard frisks the visitor at the front door and takes him to the warden’s office, where he gets permission to go inside the prison.

The guard and the visitor stop in front of two sets of sliding bars, which open when a guard signals to another guard in a glass-enclosed control room to let us through.

A button is pushed, which opens the first bars, then another a couple of yards away.

Nearby is a barber shop and a law library. The library is well stocked and is used a lot because most prisoners insist they didn’t do anything wrong and hope to have their convictions overturned.

While another guard gets Lee, the visitor waits in one of several cubicles with glass partitions where outsiders can meet prisoners.

Inmates in white uniforms hurry down a hallway near the visitor area. All in their 20s and 30s, they’re the personification of the crime issue that dominates political campaigns.

These killers and rapists and armed robbers commit their crimes when they’re young.

If there were a way to control the young before they go berserk, the prison population would fall dramatically.

Lee, also wearing white, arrives a few minutes later in handcuffs. A guard takes them off as Lee goes into the cubicle. The guards go away.

He brings with him a law book and several sheets of paper that he says will prove he’s innocent.

“They want to make me seem like a serial killer and rapist,” Lee says. “I’m not the person who committed these crimes.”

He is standing because the bottom of the glass partition is painted green and it’s hard to see across if both people are sitting.

Lee, who has a goatee, is 6 feet tall and trim, but he looks strong. He is strong enough to have strangled and raped the women, authorities believe. He has long fingers and nails, which the victims who survived have noted.

But he protests his innocence, saying he was set up.

“I had nothing to do with any of this,” he continues and points to the letters and affidavits that he believes will exonerate him if only his lawyer would listen to him.

He says the police tried to pressure him to agree to a plea bargain. Which he wouldn’t do. (The police deny any offers of a plea bargain.)

Although investigators have placed him in Debra Reese’s neighborhood on the morning she was killed, he says he was walking near the area on his way to see his parole officer, although he didn’t make his appointment.

He denies going door to door and telling women his car broke down and asking if their husbands were home to help him get his car started.

“I’ve seen pictures of Debra Reese’s body (at the trial),” Lee says. “She was beaten pretty bad. It hurts me to see that. It really touched me in the heart. There was so much blood, but there was no way blood wouldn’t have splattered on me. They didn’t find any blood on me.”

Evidence was shown at his trial that Reese was beaten to death with a rug wrapped around her, which would explain why her killer wasn’t covered in blood.

Police say they found some blood on Lee’s tennis shoes, and his footprints were also at the crime scene.

DNA tests that link him to the crime are inconclusive, Lee says. “They fit half of Jacksonville,” he says. “It’s not like OJ’s blood.”

The prosecution believes tests of Lee’s semen and hair samples prove he was involved in the crimes. His semen was found in all the victims.

Lee says he can’t remember where he was on the night Christine Lewis was murdered. He says the police had a different suspect, but then they settled on him. He points out that one of Lewis’ small children who witnessed her kidnapping said “two bogeymen” had gone into their home and took away their mother.

Although a man who knows Lee told police of driving the accused to the Lewis’ home, Lee denies it.

Christine Lewis’ parents live behind his parents’ home. He knows the Lewis family and likes them, he says.

“The girl was killed by mistake,” he adds, but insists he didn’t do it.

“They postponed the Lewis trial because they have no evidence against me,” he says. “I want it to get to trial. The Lewis case won’t go to trial.”

The prosecution believes it has plenty of evidence, besides his semen, to convict him. He goes on trial in March for the Lewis murder.

Lee also denies raping three other women. It upsets him that he’s accused raping a 70-year-old.

“That hurts me,” he says. “My heart stopped beating for two seconds when they gave me that charge. I’ve always had women. I wouldn’t do anything like that.”

He sympathizes with the victims’ families.

“I think about the pain and suffering they’re going through,” he continues.

But they’re trying to make him a victim, too, he adds.

“They’re looking for revenge. They’re blinded against finding the truth. They’re prosecuting me with opinions, not facts. All these unsolved crimes, they had to find somebody. I fill the description of a tall, slim guy.”

Lee knows he faces the death penalty, which makes him uncomfortable.

“I’m nervous,” he admits. “I fear the unknown.”

But then he says. “I can’t be scared. I’m not guilty of these charges.”

(Postscript: Lee was re-tried the following year for killing Debra Reese and found guilty of capital murder. He was executed 22 years later by lethal injection at 11:40 p.m. Thursday and pronounced dead 10 minutes later at the Cummins Maximum Security Prison. He was never tried for Christine Lewis’ murder since he was sentenced to die in the Reese case.)