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Hitting the year-end essentials of sports

This column was supposed to lead off with mention of the Region 3AA tennis tournament on Tuesday and the capture of at least one more region title by the netters. Didn’t happen.
For the umpteenth time this spring an event was rained out. The tournament was moved to yesterday with its 0 percent chance to rain. You’ll have to wait until next week to see the outcome, though I hope you already know even as you read this.
Anyway, some other random topics include:
Dawn Stewart finds her way back into my column today. Last Wednesday, April 9, she threw a no-hitter for her Coastal Georgia Community College Mariners. It came against Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) foe Brewton Parker. Through weekend games with Blue Mountain (TN) the Mariners were 8-12 in conference.
Don’t know much about the SSAC? I know that I did not. There are 14 softball playing members. Coastal Georgia competes in the Eastern Division with Auburn-Montgomery, Brenau (Gainesville GA), Martin-Methodist (Pulaski TN), Brewton Parker (Mt. Vernon GA), Southern Wesleyan (Central SC), and Emmanuel (Franklin Spring GA). Auburn-Montgomery is the number two ranked NAIA team in the country while Brenau is ranked 20th.
Three other schools from the conference are also ranked in the nation’s top 25. From the Western Division William Carey (Hattiesburg MS) is sixth, Spring Hill (Mobile AL) is 10th, and Belhaven (Jackson MS) is ranked 14th. Seems like Stewart is pitching in the D-II equivalent of the Peach Belt.
Here is what I find an interesting pitching number for the baseball Gamecocks. Standing at 13-5 as I write this, there are eight different pitchers who have recorded a decision this spring. That number represents about 50% of the original roster before JV “call-ups.” I thought that sounded like a lot. Always looking for something interesting in statistics, I checked to see if that was a lot. Let’s compare recent years: in 2013 there were nine, in 2012 there were seven, in 2011 there were eight, and in 2010 there were nine. The previous decade saw things a little more like I envisioned: 2009-six, 2008-six, 2007-five, 2006-seven, 2005-six, 2004-five, 2003-five, 2002-five, 2001-four, and 2000-five.
Things have changed and I haven’t noticed it. A lot of players are getting decisions in high school baseball games. Are there more pitchers donning the roster of the SCHS baseball team now than in the past? Probably. Hopefully we can attribute that to better coaching at a younger age. It also is the symbol of the lack of the proverbial “stud” pitcher that has to get the ball every fourth or fifth day for your team to be successful. Now talk about a statistic that was totally irrelevant.
I brought up Shabazz Napier last week. In his now famous post game interview where he bemoaned the NCAA treatment of scholarship athletes, he stated that he sometimes goes to bed “starving” because he can’t afford food (specifically pizza). He said that this happens even though his scholarship provides for a meal plan.
In a lot of ways I do sympathize with the “plight” of scholarship athletes, especially when video games use their likeness and they get no compensation. But to go to bed starving? He attends the University of Connecticut, THE state university of that state. Can’t they feed their kids? It has roughly 22,000 undergrads. It is his state’s answer to our own UGA (26,000 undergrads). Save for Sunday, can you imagine a UGA athlete going to bed starving because he does not have the money for a pizza. Save for 2:00 p.m. on Sunday afternoon until 7:00 a.m. Monday morning and 8:00 p.m. Saturday until 7:00 a.m. Monday) there is an on-campus dining hall open in Athens. There is plenty of pizza to be had and the meal plan covers it.
Hey Shabazz, make your Saturday plans before 8:00 p.m. and pool your own money for Sunday night. Sounds like his beef should be with his university and not with the NCAA. I’ll bet Snelling (Dining Hall on the UGA campus) has pizza. Not much sympathy from me on that matter.
Speaking of Napier. Either no one read my trivia question last week or no one cared about my trivia question, or no one could find the answer because the question was too vague. One more try. The name Napier is significant to the Allman Brothers Band (actually in two ways), one a song (remember Napier is a married last name. The song uses her maiden name) and one a Macon street. For about two more weeks my email address is bukemp@windstream.net. If I get nothing this time, I’ll know I threw out something that no one cared about (or no one read).


Burton Kemp Jr. is a contributing writer to the Sylvania Telephone.