Blairsville, Ga. – Thanks to a big day at the plate, the Union County Middle softball team took down area-rival Fannin County, 11-3, Thursday, August 29, at Meeks Park.
The Panthers, who are 10-2 on the season, scored four runs in the bottom of the first and fourth innings to earn the five-inning, mercy-rule win.
Illa Bragg, Sloan Dyer, Layla Akins, and Aubrie Akins each drove in two runs, while Georgia Patton went 3-for-3 with two runs scored.
The Union County scoring started in the bottom of the first inning. The Panthers used a walk from Sierra Burnette, a single from Patton, and three stolen bases to earn the 1-0 lead when Burnette stole home.
Patton stole third, and Dyer walked and stole second to give Layla Akins runners on second and third with one out.
Akins delivered, driving a double to center and bringing in Patton and Dyer to give the Panthers the 4-0 lead to end the first.
Fannin County scored once in the top of the second, before Union County tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the frame.
The surge was in part thanks to a Patton single, a walk from Addison Kennedy, and a big triple from Bragg that pushed the score to 6-1. Bragg scored a batter later as Burnette smacked a groundball out to shortstop and moved the score to 7-1.
The Lady Rebels managed to score in the top of the third, hold the Panthers scoreless in the bottom of the inning, and add another run in the top of the fourth.
With the score 7-3 in the bottom of the first, the Panthers put up their second four-run inning of the night.
Patton, Kennedy, Dyer, Aubrie Akins, and Jewel Massey all singled, while Bragg doubled and Dyer added a stolen base to extend the lead to 11-3 headed into the top of the fifth inning.
Bragg struck out the first two Fannin County batters in the inning, issued a two-out walk, and then got the final batter to pop-out to catcher Kennedy in foul territory to end the game on the five-inning mercy rule.
The Panthers next host Lumpkin County, beginning at 4:15 p.m., September 3. Union has faced Lumpkin before this season, beating the Lady Indians 14-2 in Blairsville on August 8.
The U.S. Women’s National Team has been making headlines recently for victories as a team, and as individuals for political statements.
Last week, the team won their second back-to-back World Cup. Shortly after the game, player Allie Long was seen dropping an American flag during the post-game celebration. Her teammate Kelley O’Hara recognized the significance of a flag being dropped on the ground, and immediately scooped it up.
One report from The Daily Wire explained that Long dropped the flag to participate in a celebratory dance with teammate Megan Rapinoe. But the video quickly went viral and comments poured in criticizing Long for her carelessness and thanking O’Hara for stepping in.
It’s very possible that Long meant no disrespect, but just got caught up in the moment and didn’t know that an American flag is NEVER supposed to touch the ground. Nonetheless, millions of viewers were not happy.
If you watch the video, it doesn’t appear that Long is trying to make any sort of political statement by dropping the flag. However teammate Megan Rapinoe has CERTAINLY been making headlines recently for her statements.
Although Rapinoe is mainly known for being a phenomenal soccer player (she won both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards this year), her progressive ideals have, let’s just say…raised eyebrows. Rapinoe is very outspoken about her homosexuality and dislike of President Donald Trump. She has followed the example of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick by refusing to sing or put her hand over her heart during the National Anthem. The pose she makes after scoring a goal of standing with her arms outstretched is supposed to be a symbol of fighting for equal pay, race relations and issues at the United States/Mexican border.
For years athletes have used the attention given them for their athletic success as a means to shed light on their social platforms. There’s nothing wrong with that if they’re promoting awareness for a disease or a foundation that supports children with special needs. But should we as a society draw a line when it comes to political issues?
Some would say there’s no problem- depending on what they do to make the statement. Certainly being a famous athlete gives one more media attention than the average person. Like I mentioned in my last column post, there’s no difference in an athlete and an actor or actress, and they supply their endorsement all the time!
When Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the National Anthem in 2016, many Americans were outraged. Not necessarily because of his protest of police brutality, but because he chose to do so in a way that many Americans found disrespectful to those who have served in the military. I was, and still am, one of those people. In my opinion Kaepernick and now Rapinoe are missing the mark. Kneeling or not showing respect during the National Anthem is to turn a blind eye to those who have sacrificed everything to give you the freedom to play your sport. It doesn’t have anything to do with first responders.
Nowadays there’s a gray area between sports segments and political talk shows. The two intersect on a daily basis. Just the other day on our live sports show, Instant Replay, my co-host Dave Garner and I had an entire segment dedicated to Nike’s decision to pull the sneakers with a design of the American flag sewn by Betsy Ross on the back. This decision was made after Kaepernick insisted that the flag had a racial history.
I suppose the whole reason this gray area exists is because of the technological advancements of the media. Celebrities who want use their status as a means to promote a certain viewpoint can do so more quickly because of how easy it is to post to Twitter. And in a society that demands news at every moment, something has to take up time in a sports show!
So back to the original question- should there be a line, and if so, where?
Here’s my opinion- sports is sports and politics is politics. Part of the reason I watch a football game or a baseball game is because I want to watch a football game or a baseball game. We are living in a time where politics are more divisive than ever before. One reasons sports are as big as they are today is because of the communities they create. Why should we mix something that causes so many problems to interfere with something that is supposed to help solve them?
When I turn on ESPN, I don’t want to listen to people debate over what is considered disrespectful to the National Anthem. And the next time I watch Fox News, I DARN sure don’t want to hear the name Colin Kaepernick.
As many of you reading this probably already know, it’s not uncommon to see a female reporter on your TV screen for sports outlets like ESPN or Fox Sports. Women are branching out into the sports world unlike ever before, with just as much if not more knowledge than their male co-workers.
Unfortunately, despite the strides already made, I believe sexism still exists in the sports world. I think some men find it hard to believe that women are getting into sports because it isn’t “feminine” or a hobby that they should naturally enjoy. These men don’t realize that a woman’s enjoyment of sports often begins with spending time with a loved one. I always like to mention my Papa Skip, and the football knowledge I gained from being around him and spending Saturdays in Athens.
But whatever reason people have for why a woman shouldn’t work in sports, this post is dedicated to those women who haven’t been listening.
I’ve always been a fan of Erin Andrews, mainly because the girl knows her stuff. Although she’s primarily spotted on the sidelines of NFL games, Andrews has covered everything from College GameDay on ESPN to the World Series. Outside of sports she’s had the opportunity to contribute news to Good Morning America and currently co-hosts on Dancing with the Stars. Side note: she also spent some time in nearby Atlanta covering the Braves, Thrashers and Hawks for Turner South. Whenever people think of successful women in the sports arena, Andrews is usually one of the first ones that comes to mind.
Unfortunately her fame from her work as a sportscaster has not made her immune to those who want to tear her down. In 2008 a man filmed her completely nude through a hotel door peep hole and posted the video online. The video went viral, and Andrews sued the man along with the hotel company and several others. Although Andrews eventually won her case, the time period from when the video was filmed until the suit ended lasted eight years. I can only imagine the embarrassment and anxiety that she endured during that time. I admire her strength and perseverance.
As a die-hard Braves fan, another reporter I’ve watched a lot of and enjoy seeing is Kelsey Wingert. I love Wingert’s delivery on camera because it comes across as so natural. While she does typically have a notebook on hand, she does not use a teleprompter to read a script. In other words, she also knows her stuff.
I follow Wingert on social media, and another thing I like about her is her constant interaction with fans. There have been numerous times I’ve scrolled through my Twitter feed and seen her respond to a fan asking for a chance to meet her during a game. It’s always met with a yes, as soon as the Braves are finished batting.
I could talk all day about female athletes who have also made waves in sports. On Tuesday, the United States women’s national soccer team defeated Thailand 13-0 in the first game of the world cup. Of course we all know the controversy in recent years about the players receiving less pay than their male counterparts.
A fellow reporter told me a story the other day about a young female athlete he once covered who wanted to play baseball in Louisiana. The locals were not having it, and despite all of her hard work throughout the season, she missed out on being able to play one of the biggest games of that year. However, as is the theme for this entire post, she didn’t let that stop her from continuing to work hard. I haven’t mentioned yet that she was also a phenomenal basketball player, and she is Kim Mulkey, head coach of the Baylor women’s basketball team.
The point I’m trying to make here is that there’s no point in trying to hold women back from sports, when we’ve proved time and time again that we know what we’re doing and we can do it really well. I’m sure if you asked each of these women I’ve mentioned if they agree, they would.
I’m thankful for the people along the way, most of them men, that have helped me to see I can do whatever I set my mind to. I’m afraid that sometimes as a society we still judge people based on how they look before we look to see what they can do. Fortunately for me, I have these women who I have already mentioned, and many more who have blazed the trail for me. I believe it’s partially my job to make sure that path continues to stay lit for those after me.
Recently I’ve started watching the show Friday Night Lights again. Let me just say- this is partially important because I’m not a big TV show person. I don’t have the patience to sit through an hour-long episode nor do I usually have the time to keep up with a series. But I figure with pre-season football kicking in and the fall season quickly approaching, revisiting a show that revolves around high school football is one of the best ways to get me hyped up for what’s to come.
Watching this series has also made me think about a couple of things. For one, why do we as a society rally so much around a sport that’s played by boys no older than 18-years-old? Second, do we put too much pressure on athletes who play the game? And finally, is the hype and the pressure truly worth it?
I think the answer can be summed up pretty easily- yes. And why? For love of the game.
But the love of the game is different for each of us. We’re not all going to attend every single football game or spend thousands of dollars to sit in Sanford every Saturday. We all have our limits, and in my opinion that’s perfectly okay.
I like to say that there’s something about having a team that you love that will get inside of you and never leave. I find it fascinating that there are towns across America like Dillon, Texas that will show up in the thousands to support their Panthers. Coaches and players are local celebrities, and you get your butt in the stands every Friday night just as religiously as a pew on Sunday morning. I came from a high school of nearly 4,000 students and a county of almost one million people, but the same spirit that rallies much smaller towns across the country still pulses through mine.
Yes, oftentimes I’m afraid that means we put too much pressure on the athletes who play the game. In my own personal experience, at the high school level we had so many students that it was nearly impossible to know the daily goings-on at the field house. But it was that age-old cycle of that when we would win, the coaches and players would be praised. One loss and the attitude switched faster than the direction of a twister.
But one of the many great things about this country is we have the freedom of choice in many of our decisions. Even though the athletes and coaches who play these games catch a lot of grief, they still have the choice to walk away. Some do. But for those who don’t? I’d venture to say it’s for love of the game.
When it comes to putting pressure on athletes, especially young ones, I believe the relationship is a two-way street. They should know what they’re doing, but despite all the love we have for the game, we need to understand when enough is enough. I’ve heard the term “daddy ball” thrown around a lot before, and it makes me sad to think that there are parents out there who try to live through their children. It’s important to love and support them, but even more important to let them develop their own love for their game.
Finally, like I mentioned earlier, everyone’s love for the game is different. My Papa Skip, who I probably talk to the most about sports, has a different appreciation for them than I do. I’ll use UGA football as an example. He attended classes at UGA- I never have. He still goes every year to the UGA/Florida game in Jacksonville- I’ve only gone once. He pays each year to have season tickets for the home games- I CERTAINLY don’t do that, although when he doesn’t want them I get first dibs (thanks Papa!)
The point I’m trying to make is while we all may say we love sports, we each love them differently. We each have a certain line we’re willing to cross. But at the same time, come Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday or playoffs, we rally behind our team. And we each get our butts in the stands. Why? For love of the game.
Union is coming of a great wing against rival Towns County. A few guys could of received the award this week, but we went with Junior Wide Receiver, Kyle Morlock. Kyle finished the game with 6 catches for 132 yards and 1 touchdown. He also did a great job blocking the whole night. Congrats Kyle and the Union County Panthers.
The Panthers look to improve after striking out on a 10-15 2017 season, and with a dugout full of experience returning this season, they’re chances are looking pretty good.
“The Panthers graduated only 3 players after the 2017 season,” third year head coach Robby Roxbury said in a recent interview with your TeamFYNSports reporter. He added, “This team has a lot of potential and we’re looking on building momentum early in the season and riding on it throughout the season.”
This 2018 Panthers roster returns many starters and carries a deep bullpen into this season. Region 7-AAA is one of the more difficult regions in the state as North Hall won the state championship during the 2017 season and GAC advanced into the quarterfinals.
Coach Roxbury when asked about how this region stacks up replied, “You look at this region and say wow! This is easily one of the most talented and most difficult regions in the state. Just to show how talented this region is, North Hall placed 3rd in the region last year and went on to win the state championship.”
The Panthers look to lean on the senior leadership from this team as they will have 7 seniors. All 5 of the 7 seniors have played all 4 years at Union County.
When asking senior infielder Patrick Baggett on what he thought about the upcoming season: ‘“This has been the quickest 3 years of my life I can’t believe we’re already seniors I’ve played with these guys since t-ball. I think we will improve a lot in contrast to last year, I’m not going to lie it was a difficult year for all of us we hate losing.”
Baggett along with the rest of the players, coaches, and fans hope to see this team make a deep run in the playoffs.
The Lady Panthers tipped off at 4:30 Feb 7. The Lady Panthers looked to face a Dawson County Lady Tigers team that they had fell to twice already this season. A win for the Lady Panthers would secure the 4th spot in the region and a playoff berth, a loss would end the season.
The Lady Panthers got off to a sluggish and slow start as the Lady Tigers got off to a 10-0 run to start the game. The Lady Panthers found rhythm and followed that run up with a 9-0 run of their own. The Lady Panthers trialed 17-9 at the end of Q1 led by Daniel with 3.
The Lady Panthers continued with their Q1 rhythm as they grabbed a lead right before the half going on a 12-2 run as they led 21-19. Senior guard Daniel led the Lady Panthers with 11 in the first half.
The halftime break got the best of the Lady Panthers as they lost all rhythm and scored only 1 point during the first 5:20 of Q3, the Lady Panthers had 7 turnovers in that span of time. UC trailed 41-27 going into Q4.
The deficit seemed too much to overcome as the Lady Panthers trialed by as many as 18. The Lady Panthers season came to an end as they lost 41-53. Daniel led the Lady Panthers with 15 in her final game, Mccarter followed up with 12.
The Lady Panthers finished the season 15-10 under first year head coach Corey Garrett.
Daniel finished her high school career with over 1000 points and 2 all region selections. Mccarter was the only other Lady Panther to make the all region team. Hill was selected as an honorable mention.