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Sun, Mar 26, 2017 02:17 PM
Wednesday, March 8, 2017 issue
Big Sandy News names All Area Team for 2003
by Tim Pelphrey

PAINTSVILLE — Now that baseball season is officially over, it’s time to announce the 2nd Annual 2003 Big Sandy News All-Area Team.

Choosing the team this year was much harder than last season, but none was as hard as selecting the Coach of the Year Award.

Lawrence County’s Randy Keeton got his team back on track in the middle of the season after getting off to a mediocre start to end up with an impressive 18-7 regular-season record, 24-8 overall, with a tougher-than-average schedule to earn this year’s honors, not to mention a 16th Region title.

Keeton edged out Johnson Central’s Mike Collins, who battled injury throughout the year and still ended up 17-9. Paintsville’s Charlie Adkins, who lost his best two pitchers and best hitter and still went 17-3, along with 2002’s Coach of the Year, Sheldon Clark’s Mike Hall, Allen Central’s Ronnie Patton and Betsy Layne’s Duran Newsome.

The catcher’s race was also a close one, but Lawrence County junior Eric Parker, who hit .429 with two home runs, 42 RBI, and scored 44 runs from the lead-off position takes this year’s award.

Parker edged out 2002 BSN All-Area Catcher Jaime Jarrett of Sheldon Clark, Allen Central’s Dusty Hammond and Paintsville’s Charlie Collett, who all turned in solid seasons.

Johnson Central senior Trenton VanHoose hit .405 with two home runs, 29 RBI, and scored 26 runs to earn this year’s first baseman award.

And with Paintsville’s Ryan Brown, who hit .434 with two home runs and 18 RBI, it was a hard decision.

Lawrence County sophomore Stevie Blevins’ .404 batting average, along with two home runs, 36 RBI and 29 runs, gave him the nod at second base this season over Paintsville’s Tate Harmon and Johnson Central’s Travis Montgomery. Blevins could have been named a pitcher as well.

Sheldon Clark senior Anthony Potter, who at one time this season was at or near the top in every offensive category, is this year’s shortstop. Potter hit .458 with six home runs, 25 RBI and 29 runs scored to edge out Betsy Layne’s junior Jordan Kidd.

Allen Central senior Jon Hall returns at third base on this team. Hall hit .439 with two home runs and 20 RBI.

The outfield, to be honest, was pretty much set. In choosing this position, many things were taken into consideration. To be a good outfielder, a player must possess certain abilities. He must obtain, speed, a good arm, be knowledgeable of situational baseball, plus come through at the plate.

So with that criteria in mind, the Big Sandy News selected Paintsville senior Adam Collins and junior Shane Simpkins to go along with Sheldon Clark senior and 2002 All-Area Team member Travis Carter.

Collins, the All-Area MVP, hit .451 with a home run, 20 RBI, scored 36 runs and stole 39 bases. Simpkins hit .492 at the plate to lead the area in hitting and is the area’s best prospect with his power, speed and arm.

And there’s Carter. If you hit it to center field against the Cardinals the past two years, you were out. He didn’t have the season at the plate due to a slow start but picked up the pace to end the regular season with a .342 average with three home runs and scored 25 runs.

Prestonsburg senior Adam Dixon picked up this year’s Designated Hitter Award.

Dixon, who was also considered at the catcher’s spot, hit .433 with two home runs and 23 RBI with a .650 slugging percentage.

The pitcher’s position was also a tough call, so we went with the guys we thought possessed the best stuff.

Paintsville sophomore Josh Lemaster went 6-0-1 in the regular season with a 1.56 and 51 strikeouts.

Johnson Central sophomore Adam Blanton ended the regular season with a 5-4-1 record, but his team’s defense cost him some close ones down the stretch. But his stuff was as consistent as anybody’s. He finished the season with a 3.73 ERA and led the area with 66 strikeouts.

Sheldon Clark senior Brian Fletcher surprised everyone this season by going 5-1-2 with a 2.18 ERA.

Allen Central’s senior southpaw, Neil Allen, who is also worth mentioning in the outfield, and senior Shannon Moore, along with Paintsville senior Tate Harmon, Lawrence County sophomore Chris Pope, Johnson Central sophomore Corey Conley and Betsy Layne’s Kidd also turned in very respectable seasons on the mound.

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