Montgomery Metro All-Star game set

 By TIM GAYLE

The 12th annual Montgomery Metro Baseball League all-star game and home run derby will be held on Saturday afternoon at Paterson Field, featuring the league’s best players from the Braves, Astros, Diamondbacks and Rockies in the National League and the Expos, Tigers, Blue Jays and Red Sox in the American League.

“This year, it can come down to hitting or pitching,” said MMBL founder and president Charlie Dees. “Last year, it was pitching.

“We’ve got 144 kids playing this year. Eighty-five percent of them are college guys, then 5 percent guys are high school players. The other 10 percent are ex-minor leaguers or guys that are through playing college. It’s been very competitive.”

The all-star teams will be divided between the National and American leagues and will play one nine-inning game beginning at 3 p.m. The home run derby will follow at approximately 5:30 p.m.

Admission is $5 for adults with children 10 and under admitted free.

Among those competing in the all-star game will be 2017 MMBL high school player of the year Camden Lovrich, a senior at Trinity Presbyterian who will be playing in the Alabama All-Stars Sports Week baseball game three days after the MMBL all-star game.

Joining Lovrich will be Expos’ teammate Matt Goosman, a catcher from Chipola Community College who will be attending Faulkner; Tigers’ first baseman Sam Plash, the former UMS-Wright slugger who is a center on the Ole Miss football team; Capital City Conference Player of the Year Tyler Robertson, a Blue Jays player who will be attending Shelton State Community College this fall; Robertson’s former St. James teammate Teddy Bridges, a Red Sox outfielder who is at Alabama Southern Community College; MMBL MVP Ko Powell of the Astros, who plays at Lurleen B. Wallace Community College; Lawson State’s Jackson Tate, a Braves player who played at Edgewood Academy and Park Crossing; Delta State pitcher Austin Wines, also of the Braves; Diamondbacks’ Grayson Blackwell, a former Southern Union player who will be at AUM this fall; Diamondbacks’ teammate T.J. Thomas of Lawson State; Blue Jays pitcher Landon Pritchett, the former Catholic star who will be at Lurleen Wallace this fall; and LaGrange College’s Rhett Hollon of the Astros.

AUM’s Sam Judah will return to defend his title in the home run derby after edging out Goosman last year. In addition to Judah and Goosman, others expected to compete include Dees, Mike Mendoza, former LAMP star and Auburn walk-on Winston Morgan, Plash, Montevallo’s Jared Nixon, Tate and Wallace State-Hanceville catcher Brady Sherrill.

The 10 participants in the home run derby will have 10 outs, with the top five advancing to a semifinal round featuring 10 outs. The top two finalists will compete in a timed event.

The MMBL playoffs will follow with a double-elimination tournament on July 28-29 at Paterson, with the champions facing off on Aug. 4 at Paterson. The playoff bracket will be posted on the league’s Web site at www.mmbl.biz.

 

Catholic suffers setback as McGaughey goes to Pike Road

PHOTO: Catholic’s David Poole, with McGaughey in background, at 2017 Area 4 tournament in Catholic gym.

By TIM GAYLE

Robb McGaughey admits he will be in uncharted waters tonight when he meets the players and parents of the Pike Road High basketball team.

I want to set the tone,” McGaughey said. “This is going to be a process, it’s not, ‘I’m a coach, you guys are players, you’re going to come out and it’s all going to be a Disney movie.’ It’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s not going to be fun all the time, but I think it’ll be rewarding at the end.”

McGaughey and his top assistant, Keegan Bell, left their former jobs at Catholic High and accepted similar positions at Pike Road as the Patriots begin their first varsity basketball season in 2018-19.

Initially, I turned it away a couple of times,” McGaughey said, “but they kept coming back. What it came down to was, Keegan and I both could come out there together which was intriguing because it wasn’t just one person, it was bringing the whole staff out there and the big thing was I kept talking to a bunch of people who lived out in Pike Road, whose kids go to the school, and kept seeing how much interest and enthusiasm they had for the school.

I get to be the very first coach of a varsity program. Not a lot of people can say they had that opportunity, so that’s exciting to me as well.”

McGaughey, just as he did three years ago when he accepted his first head coaching position at Catholic, replaced Ken Klinger, who started the junior varsity program at the school and is now at LaGrange (Ga.) Academy.

We are excited to have Coach McGaughey and Coach Bell joining the PRS Patriots athletics team,” said Pike Road principal and athletics director David Sikes in a statement released by the school. “They are excellent people and talented coaches who bring energy and credibility to our young program.”

McGaughey was offered a substantial raise over his Catholic salary in the final offer from Pike Road and Catholic athletic director Daniel Veres said it was difficult to compete with the retirement package and health benefits offered by public school programs.

To Robb’s ultimate credit, we’re in a much better place, program wise, than we were when he took over,” Veres said. “We’ve got the (new) gym halfway done and we’re certain we’re going to play games in there this year. The boys have new uniforms on the way. We’re going to do it first class.

He did a great job here, but it’s hard to compete in the private school arena with (state benefits). This is the only school we could have lost him to. It’s a great opportunity for him and his family.”

Veres noted that McGaughey and football and baseball coach Aubrey Blackwell received their first head coaching jobs at Catholic, giving an indication that the experience of the applicant is secondary to his personality,

We kind of have a template of the things that have been successful here in the four years I’ve been here,” Veres said. “Robb kind of fit that, Robb and Keegan both. We’re going to get somebody that’s hungry to promote his program. This is the head of our basketball program. I’m not real concerned with (his ability to also serve as an assistant in other sports). He’s going to be a basketball guy whose main goal is to promote this basketball program and continue what Coach McGaughey has done and take it to the next step.”

McGaughey admitted it was difficult to walk away from Catholic, where in two years he established the Knights as a perennial favorite in the area race and the Capital City Conference.

The hard part (in leaving) was the relationships, the people I worked with and the players,” he said. “I didn’t put an application out, they came to me and my first response was, ‘I’m really happy where I’m at, I’m doing something good where we are.’”

Now he has an opportunity to put Pike Road on the basketball map, provided the school has a gym for the basketball team this winter.

They have a gym at the elementary school and they just purchased Georgia Washington (Middle School), where the high school is going to be located in the next couple of years,” he said, “so hopefully they’ll get in and refinish the old Georgia Washington gym to make it playable and that’ll give us two gyms.”

It’ll take a different mindset to win with a newly established program, but McGaughey is excited about the challenge.

I don’t know who’s going to be out there,” he admitted, “so I’m kind of going into uncharted waters. With that being said, I think one of the advantages we’re going to have is the population, from a size standpoint, is much larger than a typical private school. They’ll be more kids to draw from to pick a team from.”

 

 

Montgomery Zoo Treats Mom’s to a Day off with Free Admission

On Sunday, May 13, 2018 moms across the River Region and Central Alabama are invited to be our guest at the Montgomery Zoo and Mann Wildlife Learning Museum.  All moms will be admitted free to the Zoo and Mann Museum during regular hours on Mother’s Day.

“While mothers are special to us every day, we are honored to join the rest of the world in giving moms a small token of appreciation to recognize everything they do for their families,” Melanie Golson, Marketing and Public Relations Manager said.  “What better way to give mom the day off than a fun and relaxing trip to the Zoo to enjoy watching kids of all ages learn about animals from across the globe and enjoy the magic of the outdoors,” she went on to say.