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Spring BHS sports season almost here

The busiest sports time of the year in Bainbridge and Decatur County is on the horizon.

I’m talking about the Bainbridge High School spring sports seasons. They will begin with the 2010 Adidas Tri-State Invitational Baseball Tournament hosted by coach Scott Miller’s Bearcats in late February.

Other Georgia teams in the tournament will be Cairo, Thomasville and defending champion Westover of Albany. Liberty County, coached by former Bearcat top assistant coach Donnie Lee Coxwell, leads a four-team Florida contingent into the tournament.

Other Florida schools are Lincoln and Leon of Tallahassee and Sneads. There will be two schools, Smith Station and Dothan Northview, in the tournament.

Coach Miller’s Bearcats should be solid again this season. His two top pitchers, right-hander Jeremy Coram and left-hander Jon Sirmons, who were co-pitchers of the year in 2009, graduated and signed college baseball scholarships. Coram signed with Valdosta State University, and Coram signed with Snead State College in Boaz, Ala.

Returning pitchers include Steven Bench and Jordan Cox, who both posted 2-0 records.

Coach Larry Cosby led the Bearcats track team to the school’s 11th consecutive Region championship.

Larry Clark, who built the Bearcats track program to the best in Southwest Georgia and one of the best in the state, hand picked Cosby, one of his former outstanding performers, to take over as Bearcats head coach.

Similarly he hand picked Tandria Cox Phillips to take over the Lady Cats track program, which has gotten better and better each year under her leadership.

Coach Tom Wheeler’s Bearcats and Lady Cats golf teams are coming off a 2009 season in which they both finished second in Region 1AAAA and earned berths in the state Class AAAA boys and girls tournaments.

Returning for the Lady Cats this spring will be seniors Sunnie Chason, Nicole Putnal and Jessica Allen, and sophomore Heather Fleming.

Bearcats who played last season are seniors Adam Anderson, Michael Fleming, Tanner Walker and Shaun Gaskins.

In tennis, coach Nicki Shockley’s Lady Cats, who won the Region 1AAAA championship and advanced all the way to the Elite 8 round of the state Class AAAA tournament, seem to be primed for another strong season, while her Bearcats, who were young last season, should be improved.

In soccer, coach Jamie Ard’s Bearcats and coach Chip Ariail’s Lady Cats return some key performers.

Junior forward Keenan Adams and sophomore midfielder Hal Clement, a pair of Region 1AAAA performers, return for the Bearcats, who went 11-3 last season under coach Brian McCorkle. Senior midfieler Whitney Thomas, an All-Region 1AAAA performer, led the Lady Cats in goals with 20 and was second in assists with five last season.

Ard, who, along with Ariail, helped build a a strong soccer program at BHS, returns to head the boys program as McCorkle joins coach Scott Miller’s baseball staff.