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Livingston takes clash of county schools

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The Livingston Lady Lions received their first volleyball win of 2021, opening the season with Corrigan-Camden. Livingston needed four games to put away the Lady Dogs 25-18, 19-25, 25-17 and 25-21.

Every game was close, but a few key Livingston runs made the difference Tuesday in Lion Gym. For new head coach Macy Box, it is beginning a few steps ahead of where she thought the team would. She said the team has exceeded her hopes “probably three times what I was expecting.” There was the thought it could take a few years to reach the point they have, based on records from the previous season. 

IMG 7940 ladydogs 1000“They've proved me wrong and they proved me wrong Saturday in our scrimmages,” Box said of the progress. “I say that in a very proud way. I thought it would take a little more time to really buy in, but they bought in from day one and it really showed tonight. The girls really showed up. We still have some kinks to work out, but it is all going to come together, and I am super excited for district. Corrigan was a big competitor for us, and I couldn't be more proud of the way things turned out.” 

Jon’Toyrian McNeal, Janae Bland and Taryn Orn stood out to Box in the win.“Duecey (McNeal) stepped in and helped us out a lot,” she said. “She has an eye for the court that I have actually never seen before. She can see the court as she is in mid approach, which is not something you can coach. That is an intangible that we are thankful for.”

IMG 7926 1000Corrigan-Camden was able to fight back in the second set to pull even. After a Livingston win in the third, the Lady Dogs held a 15-10 advantage in the fourth set that soon disappeared, turning the match in favor of the Lady Lions.

“We are going to hustle after the ball and we are going to dive everywhere,” Corrigan-Camden coach Sage Gardner said of the team’s positives. “We're going to do what we can to get the ball back over. Passing looked good tonight, we've just got to finish it and put the ball away. We are going to have to step up practice and get a little more intense. We've been doing a lot of big groups with all of our teams, and we are going to have to start splitting away to get the work in that we need.”Corrigan lost five seniors last year off a very experienced playoff group, but have another four this season to lead.“We lost our offense last year, in a sense, having someone who can put the ball away every time,” Gardner said. “With this team, they've got heart, they've got hustle, and our passing is better than it was last year. We are just going to have to find it and get there.”Tuesday was the opening game for both squads, and there is still about a month before district play. However, the season couldn’t come soon enough for Livingston’s new leader.

“I've been waiting on this game for a few months now,” Box said. “My girls have really bought in, which is exactly what I was hoping for. They have shown up and they are just as excited as I am, which is the reason why we won tonight.”

The Lady Lions will next take part in the Woodville tournament Thursday through Saturday, while Corrigan-Camden enters tournament play in Lumberton.

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Livingston 10U All-Stars capture state title

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Dixie League 250Team will participate in Dixie Youth World Series

The Dixie Youth Baseball Livingston 10U All-Stars are state champions after sweeping Lindale in a best two-of-three series over the weekend. The week before, they played five games in regionals, emerging without a loss there as well. In June, the team was able to defeat Cleveland amongst other teams in the district round. The squad of ages 9 and 10 to this point are undefeated. 

They are now set to travel to Laurel, Mississippi, site of the Dixie Youth World Series. The Livingston youth are scheduled versus North Carolina in the opening round Aug. 7. Other states involved will include Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama, South Carolina Florida and Georgia. 

Head coach Shannon Goins said the core of the team has been many of the same kids each year. This year’s group includes Jax Ruiz, Cade Randolph, Corbin Cude, Bentley Jernigan, Aiden Haynes, Jake Young, Brayden Goins, Ryder Surrency, Mikey Murphy, Paxton Drake, Braxon Smith and Ezekiel Angel.

“This isn't the only thing they do; they play youth football, basketball and soccer,” Goins said. “That is the thing about it, when you have good athletes and they play all these sports and they play good together, good things come out of it. We've done really well and out of all of Livingston, this is what was voted as the top 12 (players) in the league. They have had to work their way through all these tournaments to get to this point and they have been very successful with it.”

The coach said a strong work ethic and knowledge of the game has been the strength pushing the team’s success. 

“They seem to understand enough about the game that it helps them,” Goins said. “They are smart base runners and know when to work hard to get a ground ball when we've got runners on second and third to get a run in, because one run can make a difference. That is understanding the layout of the game and what they have to do to tack on as many runs as they can when they can. They put in the work every week and try to keep getting better. By doing that, they've obviously been rewarded.”

Livingston has faced formidable pitching, according to Goins, and he feels the team has an advantage in tournaments with a deep staff that can take the mound at any time.

“We work hard on pitching, and we have tremendous pitching on the team. I would pitch 10 out of the 12 kids all day long. The first hour of every practice they work on pitching. That is key and you have to throw strikes. Walks are bad, and we work hard on throwing it up there and trusting in your defense.”

There is a belief that this squad has enough to not only compete in Mississippi, but also bring a title back home to Polk County.

“We are super proud of them, and this group is working hard to try to accomplish something that has never been done. Livingston has never won a World Series. There have been a few teams that have gone, but nobody has ever won it. We're hoping they understand that, and they keep working hard and maybe come home with a victory.”

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Eight-inning roller coaster  (VIDEO)

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IMG 7556BRIAN BESCH | PCE Landon Leggett singles in the sixth inning.

By Brian Besch

Livingston Lion baseball lost 6-5 in extra innings and heartbreaking fashion Wednesday to Bellville. They will need wins Friday and Saturday to continue the season. 

Every out was important Wednesday and the last out of each inning seemed the most difficult to secure. 

Down 4-2 and down to their final strike, Cooper Brown reached base with an infield single. Jacob Haynes drove him in with an RBI-triple. In just his second at-bat back from injury, Landon Leggett delivered his second hit of the game, tying it at four each. All was accomplished with two outs. 

"Every out and every pitch matters," Livingston coach Wade Halfmann said. "We had two strikes. Every pitch matters. We saw adversity for the first time in the playoffs. We saw adversity, and we overcame it. Down 4-2 with two outs, we overcome adversity. There is unbelievable fight in these kids. Did we make mistakes? Yes, we did. I didn't say a word about it -- they know. These guys are ball players." 

In bonus baseball, Tay McNeal led off with a base hit to center field. Ruiz then singled, getting McNeal to third. Tyler Seek fouled off five pitches before getting the fly ball into the outfield needed to get the go-ahead run home. 

Brown, who threw two-plus innings of relief, got two quick outs in the bottom of the eighth. Then, a batter was walked, followed by a single. Brown finally got the ground ball he needed, but the throw from third base sailed beyond first, allowing both runners to score and the Brahmas to take Game 1. 

Ruiz, Leggett and Haynes each had two hits for the Lions, while those three plus Walker Findley and Gage Morris had a run batted in. 

Halfmann is known as a motivator, but gave a different answer when asked how he would get his team energized after a deflating loss. 

"I don't. It's their turn. This is a series now. Some of these kids have been in the playoffs, one and done. They left in their sophomore year saying that it was alright and that they will have next year. Now, there isn't a next year. If they want to keep playing, they will find it within them to look in the mirror and say that they are somebody. I believe they are."

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Livingston advances to regional quarterfinals (VIDEO)

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Blake Compton BRIAN BESCH | PCE Blake Compton threw five innings of one-run ball Saturday for the win.

By Brian Besch

The Livingston Lions broke out the brooms Saturday at Grand Oaks High School, defeating Navasota 9-2 to end the area round in two games.

"Every team is a good team and this is round two of the playoffs," Livingston coach Wade Halfmann said. "They earned their way here and so did we, and we were the better team this round. There were some ups and downs, but the bottom line is that our guys came to compete."

The Lions are finding ways to get on base through walks or even a few batters taking some bruises when hit by a pitch. Though they only had eight hits, there were plenty of candidates to score their nine runs.

"We don't care how (they reach base) and 90 feet is all that matters to us," Halfmann said. "We want to get the next guy up."

That showed in the second inning, as the Lions took a 3-0 lead on just one base hit. Cooper Brown walked, Jacob Haynes was beaned, Jordan Huson grounded into a fielder's choice and Gage Morris was also hit by a pitch to load the bases. 

When Tay McNeal was hit by a pitch, the third of the inning, a run scored. That brought up Damian Ruiz, who singled to bring in two.

Halfmann said that going forward, his hope is that his pitchers can get ahead early in the count.
Saturday's starter Blake Compton was around 100 pitches in five frames Saturday and Tyler Seek was pulled after six Friday because he had reached the pitch limit. 

"We are getting a little too deep into counts, if I am to be picky," Halfmann said. "The fight that they show, when they are 2-0 or 3-0 to get right back in it, is amazing. That is a testament to them and the way that they want to fight."

Compton worked out of trouble in the first inning, escaping from a bases-loaded jam with just one out unscathed. The only Rattler run off Compton would come in the third inning by way of sacrifice fly.
Livingston scored two more runs in each of the third, fourth and fifth innings. The last Lion runs were off the bat of Ruiz, who slugged a two-run homer over the wall in left field. 

Now in the regional quarterfinals, Livingston is set to face Bellville. They were winners in two of the three games over Hamshire-Fannett, with a 7-3 triumph to clinch. The Brahmas were champions of District 24-4A.

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Big Sandy season ends in area round

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Big Sandy vs ShrinerBRIAN BESCH | PCE Pre-game festivities in Navasota, as Big Sandy and Shiner prepare to play. 

By Brian Besch

The Big Sandy baseball season came to a close Saturday, as the Shiner Comanches were 10-0 winners of the game and 2-0 winners of the series.

Scoring a run in each of the first three innings, the Comanches had a lead before an error allowed for three more runs in the fourth.

After a promising first inning to the series opener when the Wildcats scored a run and had multiple baserunners, they were shut out over the final 11 frames of play.

"We played hard, but made an error that cost us three runs," Big Sandy coach Blake Brown said. "We didn't hit really well (Saturday). They hit the ball well and they just beat us today. They played good defense and pitched well. In the first three innings, we walked the leadoff batter and he scored every inning. They are very talented and I expect them to make a pretty good run."
This is the first full season under Brown and the coach said he would remember it for a few reasons. 

"This season was one for the books for us," the coach said. "We were coming off of covid and a lot of my kids didn't get to play much last year. We had a lot of growing to do and had some growing pains early, then we got into the district and really turned it on and played good baseball.

"Postseason, we scratched it out against Iola and I was proud of the way we played. Coming into the series with Shiner, we knew they were good, but we really didn't take care of our end. We didn't throw a lot of strikes and we didn't play great defense and didn't hit very well. Overall, I am very proud of the way my kids competed all year. We are returning a lot for next year."

Big Sandy will graduate seven seniors and two that are regular starters. Isias Walker, Trevor Quinones, "Rooster" Clay Laird, Robert Stamey, Alonzo Bullock, Patrick Mosely and Michael Hamilton have all finished their baseball careers in Dallardsville.

"This group of seniors had a crazy couple of years. I will remember that for sure," Brown said. "They are hard workers, every single one of them. Overall, I know that every one of them is going to have a bright future ahead, whether it is going to college or onto their career path."

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