South Laurel (London, Ky.) senior Emily Gaines had hit safely in close to 40 consecutive softball games before being made aware that she was approaching a state record.
“When I found out, it definitely put a lot of pressure on me and I got really nervous,” she admitted.
The Kentucky record was 43. On both the night she tied the record and the night she broke it, she collected her only hit during her final at-bat. She continued the streak until it reached 52 – the second-longest in high school history. It included the last 12 games of her junior year.
You could call her high school softball’s version of Garrett Wittels, the Florida International sophomore who has hit safely in 56 straight games. That matched the Major League record held by the great Joe DiMaggio and is two short of the NCAA record (58), which is held by Robin Ventura of Oklahoma State. His season is over, however, so he’ll have to wait until next year to continue the streak.
Gaines’ streak finally ended during an 8-2 playoff victory over Knox Central. She drew three walks and popped out to the second baseman in four trips to the plate. It marked the second playoff game in which she had been given three walks as opponents constantly pitched around her.
“It was kind of sad,” she said of the streak’s end. “But knowing that we were still going to the (region) championship game made it a little easier.”
The national record is 73 by Kayla Braud of Marist (Eugene, Ore.) from 2006-2008.
Gaines called her tremendous streak “a big surprise. It feels really good. All that hard work paid off.”
She credits her father, Scott Gaines, a former high school baseball coach, with “teaching me everything I know.”
“I never really dreamt that she would be as good as she is," Scott Gaines said. "She wasn’t very big and always had to bunt because she wasn’t really strong enough to hit the ball through the infield. At age 12 she began getting stronger and just gets better and better.”
“She’s going to rank as the best player our school has ever had," South Laurel coach Kaye Smith said. "I hope young kids learned a lot just from watching her. She is a great role model. She loves the sport and her future is very bright.”
The 5-foot-10 pitcher/shortstop led the Cardinals to a 34-7 record this spring and after five varsity campaigns now holds six state records. The single-season marks are for most hits (83), doubles (27) and she tied a record by belting home runs in five consecutive games. Her 17 home runs are No. 2 in Kentucky history, while her .634 batting average is No. 3.
Gaines’ career records are for most doubles (104), hits (349) and hitting streak (52 games). She also ranks No. 4 with a .525 batting average, 200 RBI, 24 home runs and 241 runs.
In addition, she was the Cardinals’ No. 1 pitcher the last couple years. This spring she compiled a 19-2 record with a 0.68 earned run average. In 113 1/3 innings, she allowed 62 hits, 21 walks and struck out 94. Her career record was 66-9 with 454 strikeouts and a 1.04 ERA in 443 2/2 innings.
Gaines, who also was a standout volleyball player, carved out a 4.0 GPA and has signed with the University of Kentucky where she is expected to play a major role as a freshman.
* Senior Kirsten Verdun pitched every game this year as Coal City (Coal City, Ill.) recorded a 40-0 record and won the Illinois Class 2A state softball title with a 5-0 victory over Johnston City (Johnston City, Ill.). It was the first unbeaten, untied season by an Illinois team in 25 years. While ending Johnston City’s 24-game winning streak, Verdun allowed just one hit, no walks and struck out nine. The game was limited to five innings due to severe weather.
* Hueytown (Hueytown, Ala.) senior pitcher Leigh Streetman has been named Miss Softball in Alabama. The UAB signee posted a 46-8 record with a state-leading 568 strikeouts in 304 innings and a 0.35 ERA. While pacing her team to the Class 6A state title, she fired a perfect game at the state’s No. 1-ranked team, Satsuma, striking out 15 of 21 batters. She also defeated Sparkman, which hit a national-record 60 home runs this spring.
Mater Dei pitchers perfect
Senior Cory Hahn and sophomore Ty Moore combined to pitch a perfect game as Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.) defeated Dana Hills (Dana Point, Calif.), 2-0, to win the Southern Section Division I baseball title. Hahn, who also hit his 10th home run, came out after five innings because California pitchers are allowed only 10 innings per week. He posted a 14-1 record in his only year of high school pitching.
* Cook (Adel, Ga.) senior Kaleb Cowart has been named Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year. The 6-3, 190-pounder, who throws up to 97 miles per hour, compiled a 10-1 pitching record with a 1.05 ERA and struck out 116 in 73 innings. He also batted .654 with 11 home runs and he was perfect in 36 steal attempts. An “A” student, he has signed with Florida State.
* Junior outfielder Ryan Garvey – son of ex-Dodger star Steve Garvey - hit a pair of doubles as Palm Desert (Palm Desert, Calif.) defeated Torrance (Torrance, Calif.), 9-0, to win its first Southern Section Division IV baseball crown.
* Dante Bichette Jr. batted .597 this year for Orangewood Christian (Maitland, Fla.). The son of former Major League All-Star Dante Bichette Sr. also hit nine home runs and drove in 37 even though missing seven games with a broken hand. He has committed to the University of Georgia.
* UMS-Wright Prep (Mobile, Ala.) P-SS Chase Williamson has made a commitment to Auburn University, according to the Mobile Press-Register. As a junior, he compiled a 12-1 record with a 1.99 ERA while hitting .491 with eight home runs and 35 RBI for the Class 4A state champs.
Hunter has monster day
Ocean Lakes (Virginia Beach, Va.) senior Justin Hunter had a monster effort while sparking his team to its first Group AAA state track championship. The University of Tennessee football signee won the long jump (nation-leading 25-08.75), triple jump (No. 5 this spring in the nation at 50-08.25) and high jump (7-0).
* Hobart (Hobart, Ind.) junior sprinter Jarvis McMillian became the first boy to win the 100-meter dash (10.69), the 200 (21.48) and the 400 (47.45) in the same year during Indiana’s 107-year track history.
* Lake Wales (Lake Wales, Fla.) junior Octavious Freeman won the 100-meter dash (11.11) and the 200-meter dash (23.19) to earn MVP honors in the girls division of the Great Southwest meet on a 100-degree day in Albuquerque, N.M. Lovejoy (Ga.) senior David Smith high jumped 7-2.25 to win MVP honors in the boys meet.
8th grade stars pick Bergen
Bergen Catholic (Oradell, N.J.) has landed two of New Jersey’s premier eighth grade football/wrestling standouts, according to the Newark Star-Ledger. They are quarterback Johnny Sebastian (5-9, 170) and linebacker Michael Johnson (5-11, 185). Sebastian already has won four age-group state wrestling titles.
They appeared headed to Don Bosco Prep (Ramsey, N.J.) until Don Bosco assistant coach/athletic director Nunzio Campanile took the Bergen Catholic head football position.
* Allan Trimble has been reinstated by the OSSAA as head football coach at Jenks (Jenks, Okla.). The winner of nine state titles had been suspended for the last eight months following recruiting and eligibility violations.
* Tony Manfredi has resigned as head football coach at Overland (Aurora, Colo.) after winning 197 games and the 1993 Class 6A state title.
Frosh star picks Tennessee
Norcross (Norcross, Ga.) freshman basketball star Kaela Davis has made a commitment to the University of Tennessee, according to Steve Tucker of the Chicago Sun-Times. The 6-2 standout, who is the daughter of former NBA player Antonio Davis, scored 21 points as Norcross won the Class AAAAA state title.
* Morristown (Morristown, Ind.) sophomore Dylan Langkabel is transferring to St. Benedict's Prep (Newark, N.J.), according to the Indianapolis Star. The 6-3 guard averaged 24.4 points this year. North Central (Indianapolis, Ind.) sophomore star D'Vauntes Smith-Rivera also is considering attending St. Benedict’s. The 6-4 star averaged 17.7 points for the Class 4A state champs.
* The Charlotte Observer reports that Norfolk Christian (Norfolk, Va.) star James McAdoo is considering graduating a year early this summer and joining the University of North Carolina basketball team in the fall. The transfer of twins David and Travis Wear has left a big opening at power forward. The catch is that the 6-8 standout would have to stay at least two years before testing NBA waters.
* Mark Lieberman has resigned as head basketball coach after compiling a 343-92 record and winning four state titles in 14 years at Monsignor Pace (Miami, Fla.).
Park makes U.S. Open
Cienega (Vail, Ariz.) standout golfer Sun Park shot 1-over-par 143 at California’s Industry Hills Golf Course to qualify for the U.S. Women’s Open. She recently graduated as class valedictorian.
* Fourteen-year-old Cindy Feng (Orlando, Fla.) became the first girl to successfully defend her title at the 11th annual Thunderbird International Junior in Scottsdale, Ariz. She outlasted Laetitia Beck (Caesarea, Israel) in a four-hole, sudden-death playoff.
The boys title went to Anthony Paolucci (Del Mar, Calif.), who carded 12-under-par to win his first AJGA title by three shots.
Summit sets lacrosse record
Summit (Summit, N.J.) defeated St. Joseph (Metuchen, N.J.), 6-1, to win its state-record 45th consecutive lacrosse match and its second straight Tournament of Champions crown.
Colgate recruit Bob Lawrence (5-9, 185) was named State Defensive Player of the Year, according to coach Jim Davidson, whose team allowed only 2.3 goals per game and could be the best defensive team in state history. Nine graduating seniors will play college lacrosse.
National soccer record tied
Christ Church Episcopal (Greenville, S.C.) blanked North Charleston Academic Magnet, 3-0, to tie a national record with its 10th consecutive boys soccer (Class A) state championship. Gilford (Gilford, N.H.) also won 10 straight titles from 1987-96.
Senior goalkeeper Chris Woody posted 51 shutouts during his four-year career and yielded less than one goal per game over 96 contests. During each of the last three years he shut out the Cavaliers’ opponents in both the semifinals and state championship games.
Marist wins volleyball title
Marist (Chicago, Ill.) upset three-time defending champion Wheaton-Warrenville South (Wheaton, Ill.), 25-22, 25-23, to win the Illinois boys state volleyball championship. Garrett Dempsey led the way with 22 assists, eight blocks and eight service points for the 38-4 RedHawks.
Marist snapped No. 1-ranked Maine South’s 40-match winning streak with a hard-earned semifinal victory, 26-24, 22-25, 25-22.