Pictured on the cover of Sports Illustrated earlier this month, Las Vegas High School baseball catcher Bryce Harper is skipping his final two years of high school to attend the College of Southern Nevada and – hopefully – be eligible for the 2010 Major League draft.
The 16-year-old phenom belted a 570-foot home run as a freshman. As a sophomore he batted a lofty .626 with 14 home runs, 36 stolen bases and he drove in 55 runs.
His high school coach, Tim Chambers, told the Las Vegas Sun, “The kid just wants to play baseball. The kid is a 3.9 student, so from an academic standpoint, he will be fine. If he wants to take his girlfriend to homecoming, or the prom, he can still do that.”
The 6-foot-3, 205-pounder already is a celebrity on eBay, where an autographed baseball is going for more than $100.
Entire crowd ejected
In West Burlington (Iowa), home plate umpire Don Briggs ejected the entire crowd of about 100 fans during a high school baseball game.
West Burlington had closed an 11-3 deficit against Winfield-Mount Union to 11-9 in the bottom of the fifth inning when a close play at home plate ignited the coaches and fans. Briggs called the local police to force the fans to leave.
Following several conferences – a 40-minute delay - the fans were allowed back into the park with the threat of disorderly conduct hanging over their heads if any more negative comments were made.
In what was termed a “playoff atmosphere,” West Burlington rallied to post a 12-11 victory when Dustin Guihan stole home in the bottom of the seventh inning.
O’Conner raises stock
Justin O’Conner, a rising senior at Cowan (Muncie, Ind.), boosted his stock considerably for the 2010 Major League baseball draft with a superb performance over the weekend during the 10th annual Perfect Game National Showcase at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, Minn.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound shortstop/right-handed pitcher wowed several hundred scouts by winning the home run derby with some prodigious shots. He slammed 15 home runs to edge favored Kris Bryant (6-5, 205) of Bonanza (Las Vegas, Nev.). His longest shot was 450 feet.
O’Conner led all other Hoosiers as a junior this spring with 18 home runs. He also batted a lofty .580 with 57 RBIs and was 7-0 on the mound with a 0.19 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 38 innings. He also throws up to 95 miles per hour.
Cosby (Midlothian, Va.) outfielder Mitchell Shifflett set an event record by running the 60-yard dash in a sizzling 6.11 seconds.
St. Edward (Lakewood, Ohio) right-hander Stetston Allie was the hardest-throwing pitcher, reaching 98 miles per hour several times. Still, the best pitching prospect may be The Woodlands (Texas) right-hander Jameson Taillon (6-6, 220), who throws just about as hard but is so polished that he may be next year’s No. 1 prep prospect regardless of position.
And don’t forget the name Reggie Golden. The well-built outfielder from Wetumpka (Ala.), who has committed to the University of Alabama, already is being mentioned in the same breath with the great Bo Jackson.
Win streak ends at 77
Groton Fitch (24-3) stunned two-time defending champion Monroe Masuk, 1-0, to win Connecticut’s Class LL state softball crown, ending a phenomenal 77-game winning streak.
Masuk’s last loss had been to Fitch, 1-0, on April 13, 2007. One year ago Masuk nipped Fitch, 2-1, in the state semifinals.
LSU-bound Rachele Fico was the losing pitcher, even though she struck out 15. She concluded her brilliant career with a 105-3 record and 1,884 strikeouts.
National records set
Lucas Verzbicas of Lincoln-Way Central (Ill.) set a national freshman record when he won the two-mile in 8:53.98 during the Midwest Distance Gala in Lisle, Ill. Defending national cross country champion Solomon Haile was among the talented field that he defeated.
Verzbicas now holds three national freshman records: the two-mile, the 3k (8:20.15) and 3200-meter run (8:50.70).
In the same meet, Andrew Springer of Westerly (R.I.) ran a 2009 national-best mile in 4:02.70.
Saginaw youngster dies
Dorian Dawkins, a rising freshman at Saginaw (Mich.), collapsed during a summer basketball tournament at Michigan State University. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was able to talk to his parents briefly, but he died several hours later after suffering two more heart attacks.
The 14-year-old was the son of Saginaw basketball coach Lou Dawkins. Former Saginaw coach Lou Thomas told the Saginaw News, “He was extremely talented, not just as a basketball player, but as a student. I would consider him a rising star.”
Michigan State coach Tom Izzo said, “As a coach and even more as a parent, I grieve, pray and suffer with the Dawkins family and the many people in Saginaw and beyond who mourn the passing of a wonderful young man.”