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The Paris High Social Studies entry placed first in team competition at the recent Region 2-4A UIL Spring Meet held at Texas A&M-Commerce. They advanced to the state meet where they finished fifth. Members are (from left) sponsor Tracey Roden, Matt Cochran, Alexis Muse, and (front) Rachel Young. Muse placed second among individual entries.
Wildcats baseball team shares a somber moment after an injured Leopard is treated by paramedics following an outfield collision
Before the District 14-4A baseball season began, Paris coach Bill Sikes figured that four wins might be enough to make the playoffs in what looked to be a very competitive race.
Four district wins, for Paris, won’t be enough. The Wildcats will need to add a fifth win Tuesday to ensure that their regular season finale at Pittsburg won’t close the curtain on the 2017 season.
The Cats shut out Liberty-Eylau, 4-0, Friday in a game moved to Chisum’s new turf field after recent rains made their Hub Hollis home field unplayable. The win raised Paris’ season record to 16-10 and ties the Cats with Atlanta and Pittsburg for third place with 4-5 district marks.
Pleasant Grove (8-1) dropped its first district game Friday to North Lamar (5-4), which clinched one of the district’s four playoff berths. Paris still controls its own playoff destiny, but the Cats must win at Pitt on Tuesday or stow their gear away for another season.
Paris turned to senior ace Phillip Sikes Friday to stop a two-game losing skid. Sikes gave up a leadoff hit to L-E catcher Triston Brooks to start the game, and an errant pickoff throw had a Leopard on third base with no outs in the first.
He then struck out the side to keep L-E off the scoreboard and proceeded to retire 15 straight Leopards before a walk and a single ended the streak in the top of the sixth inning. A Sikes strikeout and grounder to shortstop Zach Norris, who turned a double play, ended that threat.
With Sikes approaching his pitch count limit, his uncle-coach sent sophomore Daniel Blackmon to the mound to protect the 4-0 lead in the seventh. Blackmon hit a batter and gave up a single, so Sikes was brought back to pitch and save the win.
“Phil had about 7 or 8 pitches left (on his mandatory pitch count limit),” the Paris coach said. “Luckily he got the first two outs real quick.”
Sikes (6-3) struck out the first batter he faced on 4 pitches and got a 1-pitch popup for the second out. He finished the game with his 11th strikeout.
It was the seventh straight loss for the snakebit Leopards, who won their first two district games. Leopard starting pitcher Rory Baugus allowed 9 Paris hits including a 3-run, inside-the-park home run by Norris in the third.
The two-out rally started on an infield single by X’Tavous Young. Sikes was then intentionally walked to bring Norris to bat.
Norris, who was 3-for-3 at the plate, sent a sinking drive into left-centerfield. There was a violent collision by two Leopard outfielders converging on the ball. One outfielder collapsed to the turf, the other flipped and landed on his back. By the time he recovered, retrieved the ball that had rolled to the fence, and threw to his cutoff, both runners had scored and Norris joined them by beating the relay throw to the plate.
The game was stopped for 30 minutes while officials tended to the injured player and paramedics were called to render aid. The player’s mother was in attendance and accompanied her son to the hospital.
The emotional scene cast a pall on the remainder of the game.
Paris was able to add a run in the fifth, with Sikes and Norris again at the epicenter of the offense. Sikes opened with a leadoff single and moved to third on a well-executed hit-and-run single by Norris. Baugus then got a strikeout on a dropped third strike. Norris attempted a delayed steal and was caught in a rundown but not before allowing Sikes to race home to score the run.
Paris High qualified 4 relays and 7 individuals for the Region 2-4A Track and Field Championships Thursday at the Area 13-14 track meet in Atlanta. The top 4 finishers in each event advance to regionals which will be April 28-29 at Texas A&M-Commerce.
District 14 champion Atlanta easily won the varsity boys divisions at the area meet, but Liberty-Eylau edged the Atlanta girls by a half-point. Paris finished 6th in both divisions.
Junior Montavius McCarty (pictured left) posted the top Paris finish with a second place in the varsity boys 100-meter dash. McCarty also ran legs on both Wildcat sprint relays that finished third in the 4x100 and 4x200 meter relays.
Paris results (regional qualifiers in italics):
To paraphrase the comedian W. C. Fields, “First prize is a school bus trip to Atlanta, TX . . . second prize is school bus trips on consecutive nights to Atlanta, TX.”
Nothing derogatory meant to the lovely town of Atlanta nestled deep in the East Texas piney woods, but the drive from Paris is circuitous and desolate. Native Atlantans feel likewise when they have to make the trek to Paris.
The Paris Wildcats baseball team had to make round trips on back-to-back school nights after Tuesday’s regularly scheduled District 14-4A game was rained out by a thunderstorm which popped up a hour prior to first pitch. When they returned on Wednesday, the result was one of the Cats’ worst outings of the season as they fell to the Rabbits, 7-1.
Whether the extra travel time extracted a price on their performance is debatable, but it certainly didn’t help, plus the result leaves Paris on the brink of postseason elimination. Pleasant Grove is the district champion at 8-0, while Atlanta and North Lamar share second with 4-4 records, and Paris and Pittsburg are tied for the fourth and final playoff berth at 3-5.
The Cats try to regroup on Friday by hosting Liberty-Eylau (2-6). That game has been moved to Chisum’s new turf field and will begin at 4 p.m. to avoid storms which are forecast for northeast Texas. Senior Night ceremonies are scheduled afterwards.
The game started well for Paris, which took a 1-0 first-inning lead on a 2-out Corey Allen RBI single to right. It brought home pinch-runner Javian Dabbs, who had stolen second base after Zach Nation’s single.
The Cats had scoring opportunities against Rabbit pitcher Jake Thompson in the second and third innings, but pop-ups ended those threats.
“We had our chances early in the game,” Paris coach Bill Sikes said, “but after the third inning (Thompson) was nearly un-hittable.”
The same couldn’t be said for Cats’ starter Phillip Sikes (5-3). He walked the Atlanta leadoff hitter in the first on 4 pitches, then gave up a double. He escaped that jam with back-to-back strikeouts and a flyout, but surrendered the lead in the second when Atlanta scored twice.
It started with a line drive screamer off an infielder’s glove then an RBI double by Thompson that skipped past an outfielder to the wall. A Kade Wood single to right drove in the second run to give Atlanta the lead for good at 2-1.
Coach Sikes sent Zach Norris to the mound to start the third inning.
“Something wasn’t right with Phillip,” he said, “so we went to Zach to try to keep us in the game.”
The strategy worked for a couple of innings before Norris lost control in the fifth. He hit the first two batters in the inning before an errant pickoff throw and wild pitch added to the Atlanta lead, 3-1.
After a walk and single to start the Rabbit sixth, Sikes made another pitching change and brought in the lefty Allen. The Rabbs tacked on 4 more runs before a fourth pitching change (to Daniel Blackmon) and double play ended the nightmare. The big blow came on a 2-run double into the rightfield corner by Jose Arrendondo.
Meanwhile, Thompson limited the Paris offense to a pair of infield singles over the final 4 innings. Centerfielder X-Tavious Young had one of those singles along with a solid shot up the middle in the second.
“We’ve got to beat L-E,” said Sikes, whose team is 15-10 and trying to avoid a season-high 3-game losing skid.
Victoria Bergt’s 8th-inning bunt brings home the winning run for Atlanta and closes the door on Paris’ postseason dreams
Before the 2017 season began, few District 14-4A softball fans and coaches would have thought it possible for the Paris Ladycats to take any postseason dreams into their final game. The Ladycats had been the perennial district doormat and hadn’t won a league game since 2012.
But not only did Paris make the long journey to Atlanta Wednesday with a chance to tie the Lady Rabbits for the fourth and final playoff berth, the Ladycats extended Atlanta an extra inning before coming up on the short end of a 1-0 score.
The Ladycats, who broke a 50-game district winless streak this season, finish with a 2-8 district mark while Atlanta is the district’s No. 4 playoff seed at 4-6.
The game was a scoreless duel between Atlanta’s Kadee Kelly and Paris freshman Saya Swain until the Lady Rabbs switched strategies in the extra frame. Swain, a strong contender for district newcomer of the year, mowed down 16 Lady Rabbs on strikeouts in the game, so Atlanta tried to bunt its way around the bases.
It started, innocently enough, with a leadoff bunt that popped up and over the pitcher’s circle for an infield single. Two outs later, Victoria Bergt dropped a bunt 10 feet down the third-base line that third baseman Akierria Garvin fielded cleanly, but her throw to first couldn’t catch the speedy left-handed batter.
Gracie Smith scored from third on the play. The dream was over.
Three eighth-inning bunts were the only hits Atlanta managed off the hard-throwing freshman. The Lady Rabbs advanced runners to second and/or third base via walks or errors in the first and third innings, but Swain escaped damage with strikeouts each time.
The Ladycats managed 4 hits for the night. Kammie Franklin had an infield single in the second, and Alexis Muse ripped a 2-out double in the fourth but was thrown out trying to advance to third on the play.
The Ladycats’ best opportunity to score came in the third when they loaded the bases with 2 outs on singles by Taylor Looney and Garvin around a walk issued to Swain. Codi Clark blooped a potential Texas Leaguer over second that the Atlanta centerfielder ran down.
“I couldn’t believe she got to that ball,” Clark said. “She made a great play.”
Clark, along with shortstop MiKayla Brown, were the only two seniors on an otherwise young Paris team.
“I thanked the team afterwards for the season we had,” Clark added. “I’ve seen so many girls quit because they were tired of getting beat 20 to nothing every game. It was great to be a part of a program that’s on the rise.”
The Ladycats’ head coach this season was Kara Crawford, the former North Lamar catcher.
Corey Allen drives a triple down the first base line to score the Cats’ second run against NL
Paris High baseball coach Bill Sikes turned riverboat gambler Wednesday when he threw down his two aces in an attempt to win a key hand in the District 14-4A baseball stakes.
It proved a winning strategy as the Wildcats held on for a 4-2 win over North Lamar and a sweep of their season series in a game moved to Chisum High’s new artificial turf field due to rain earlier in the week. However, the go-for-broke strategy left him with a short hand for Friday’s home game against 4th-ranked Pleasant Grove, as the Hawks flew in and out of town with an 11-0 win shortened to 6 innings by the run-rule.
While PG (7-0) is just one victory away from clinching another district title, Paris (3-4) remains in the thick of a 5-team rumble for the three remaining district playoff berths. NL (4-3) survived a marathon, 9-8 battle with Atlanta (3-4) to move into the second spot. Pittsburg and Liberty-Eylau are both 2-5 but still very much alive for the postseason battle.
Paris and Pitt each hold a trump card: They both have PG in their rear-view mirrors, while the other three playoff contenders still have a date with the Hawks on their schedules.
The Cats started junior righthander Zach Norris (5-1) against their crosstown rivals on Wednesday. They staked Norris to a 3-0 lead after three innings before the Panthers began chipping away.
When NL trimmed the deficit to 3-2 with 2 outs in the fifth, Sikes summoned his nephew Phillip to the mound to hold the lead. The senior righthander hit a batter with his first pitch, then chalked up his first strikeout to end the inning.
Paris added an insurance run in the seventh that was welcome, but not needed. Sikes, the winning pitching in the Cats’ 9-0 victory over NL in the district opener, closed out the victory with 6 strikeouts in the final 7 outs. His mastery over the Panthers this season now reads 9.1 innings pitched, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 hit batter, and 25 strikeouts. That’s 25 strikeouts in 28 outs.
Sikes also played a pivotal role with his bat. He was moved up to the leadoff position in the batting order to boost a suddenly anemic offense that has produced just 2 runs in the Cats’ 4 district losses.
The move paid dividends agains the Panthers. Sikes took a 4-pitch walk to open the game, stole second, moved to third on a Zach Nation sacrifice bunt, and scored the first run on Norris’ RBI grounder.
Norris was safe at first on an errant throw. He also stole second and came home on Corey Allen’s triple down the first base line. Although Allen was stranded when Panther starter Zeke Wood responded with consecutive strikeouts, Paris had taken a 2-0 lead.
Wood silenced the Cats’ bats with 5 straight Ks until Sikes came back to the plate in the third. He was hit by a pitch, stole second and third base, and came home when the throw to third skipped into the outfield.
Norris lost command of the strike zone in the bottom of the fourth protecting a 3-0 lead. After 3 walks, he hit Sam Cowling with a pitch on a 3-2 pitch to force in the Panthers’ first run and make it a 3-1 game. A groundout to Norris ended the threat with the bases loaded.
With 2 outs in the NL fifth, Wood reached on an infield single, stole second, and was driven home by a Tyler Biard RBI single to left. That brought the pitching change, and Sikes took care of the rest by getting the final 7 outs plus driving in the last Paris run on an RBI single in the seventh.
“I liked the way we started out the game and the way we ended the game,” coach Sikes said of the restructured batting order, “but not so much the middle.”
Wood and reliever Jake Roberts held 10 straight Paris batters without a hit until Daniel Blackmon’s 2-out infield single in the sixth.
“It was a win,” the Paris coach said afterwards, “and wins aren’t easy to come by in this district.”
Unless you’re PG, that is.
Friday’s outing at Hub Hollis Field was expected to be a marquee matchup of the district’s top two senior pitchers, but with Sikes making an extended outing to close out the NL win, Paris turned to lefthander Corey Allen to face the Hawks’ All-State pitcher Caleb Bolden.
Allen notched tournament wins earlier this season over a pair of state-ranked opponents: Godley and Farmersville, but the potent PG offense jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on a sacrifice fly and added 2 more runs in the second on a Texas League bloop single.
Two more bloop singles set the plate for a 3-run outburst in the fourth that gave PG a comfortable 6-0 advantage.
Sophomore Daniel Blackmon saw his first action on the mound since March 14 when he pitched the last 2 innings. The Hawks scored twice in the fifth and 3 more in the sixth.
The Paris defense committed a pair of errors in the sixth but also notched 2 double plays in the game. The Cats’ offense could get nothing going against Bolden, who struck out 8 while walking none and limiting Paris to 4 hits.
The season comes down to three more games starting with the long road trip Tuesday to Atlanta, which beat Paris, 6-1, two weeks ago.
Taylor Looney drives in Ladycats’ first run with a single to rightfield
Few could have predicted that the Paris Ladycats softball team would be facing a regular season finale with postseason implications, but that’s exactly what the 2017 season comes down to Tuesday when the Ladycats journey to Atlanta to face the Lady Rabbits.
Just 17 days ago, Paris shocked the District 14-4A softball universe by beating Pleasant Grove, 6-0, to put to rest a 50-game district losing streak that stretched back to 2012. Friday night, lightning struck again as the Ladycats swept their series against the Lady Hawks with a 7-6 victory on Senior Night. It was the first home win in the careers of seniors Makayla Brown and Codi Clark.
The win leaves Paris (2-7) one game behind Atlanta (3-6) for the fourth and final district playoff berth. An upset Tuesday at Atlanta could force a tiebreaker game.
The Ladycats, 6-14 overall, fell behind, 0-2, before an RBI single by Taylor Looney trimmed the lead to 2-1 in the bottom of the second. Paris exploded for 5 runs in the fourth keyed by a bases-loaded triple from Clark to take a 6-2 advantage.
PG battled back to tie the game, 6-6, before a 2-out rally in the sixth regained the lead for the Ladycats. Freshman Taylor White was hit by a pitch, advanced to second on a wild pitch, and scored on a double by Kami Franklin.
Freshman Saya Swain made the 7-6 lead hold up with her 15th strikeout to end the game. She allowed 8 hits, walked 3, and hit a batter.
Members of the Wildcats’ JV track and field district champions
The lead paragraph in the Texarkana Gazette on last week’s District 14-4A Track and Field Championships read, simply: “It was Atlanta’s night.”
The Atlanta Rabbits, perennial track powerhouse, easily won the varsity boys division and were helped by a false start by chief rival Liberty-Eylau to eke out a team championship in varsity girls. But tomorrow may belong to the Paris Wildcats, judging by their team title in JV boys plus results from the recent district middle school meet where Paris won the 8th-grade boys division and was barely edged from doing likewise in 7th-grade boys.
The Wildcats’ JV boys track team had three winners in Wednesday’s field events to take an early division lead heading into Thursday’s running finals at Atlanta’s Rabbit Stadium. Elijah Ellis won the shot put, Anqurrus Harris the triple jump, and Kentraevious Johnson the high jump.
The JV Cats maintained control of the team race throughout Thursday’s finals over runnerup Atlanta, although the Rabbits shaved the lead to a slim 139-135 after a 1-2-6 finish in the 400 meters.
Paris quickly rebounded when Kellen Floyd dropped his prelim time of 46.42 to 45.19 to finish second in the grueling 300-meter hurdles, and Za’Kivion Blake and Jalen Nelson finished 2-4 in the 200 meters to provide some breathing room.
Paris only needed to finished third in the meet’s final event, the 4x400 meter relay. The Cats challenged the Rabbits from start-to-finish in that event before settling for second and clinching their meet championship.
Other Thursday event winners for the JV boys were Johnson in the 110-meter hurdles and the 4x200 relay team of Wesley Gage, Zantavious Braxton, Blake, and Nelson.
It was the first district track title at any level for Paris High since 2012 when the Ladycats won the varsity girls division. The Wildcat boys program seemed to be on the rise when they set a conference record in winning the 4x200 meter relay at the 2013 Class 4A state championships, but the past three seasons have resulted in district finishes of fifth, fourth, and now fifth again.
The Cats hope to continue the momentum from the 2017 season at the lower levels in upcoming years.
Of course, the primary focus was on the varsity divisions, where the top four finishers in each event advance to Thursday’s Area 13-14 track meet at A&M-Commerce. Paris placed fifth in both varsity divisions. The boys qualified in all three relays and six individual events. The Ladycats qualified in two relays and five individual events.
Paris sophomore JP Rojas (pictured left) won the varsity boys 3200-meter run on the meet’s first day.
The Ladycats’ JV relay squad of Zaniyah Adamson, Essence Gray, Casia Johnson, and Quanteria Jenkins won both sprint relays to key a fourth overall finish by Paris in that division.
Paris High Results:
Varsity Boys (Area Qualifiers in italics)
Varsity Girls (Area Qualifiers in italics)
The Paris Wildcats, who have dominated boys soccer by posting four straight district championships, also dominated this year’s All-District Team as chosen by league coaches.
The list is topped by senior forward Christian Mitchell, who was named District 11-4A MVP. Mitchell scored 26 goals in leading the Cats to an overall record of 17-5-3. He posted 14 of those goals in 8 district games.
Senior Dakoata Payne was selected as Defensive MVP, and senior Cade Blackmon was the Goalkeeper of the Year. Paris posted 4 shutouts during district play. Also, Jeremy Beshirs was named Coach of the Year.
First team selections were seniors Seth Hudgins (MF), Colin Haris (F), Zach Lamb (MF), junior Montana Payne (D), and sophomore Kyler Beshirs (MF). Second team notice went to seniors Jose Resendez (MF), Stanley Watkins (MF), junior Cole Miller (F), and sophomores Isaac Vasquez (D) and Alan Garcia (MF). Seniors Rafael Moreno (D) and Jared Gibo (D), as well as juniors Aaron Araujo (MF), Felix Vasquez (F), and Javian Dabbs (F) received honorable mention.
This one hurt.
The Paris Wildcats had a golden opportunity to close out the first half of a competitive District 14-4A campaign with a win over the previously 12th-ranked Pittsburg Pirates. They out-hit the Pirates. Arguably, their ace Phillip Sikes out-pitched his Pitt counterpart Brett McGee.
But the Cats, when they needed it, could convert just 1 one of their 7 hits with a runner in scoring position (.125 batting average). Plus, their defense betrayed them with 7 errors while the Pirates had a flawless game in the field.
Four of those errors resulted in both Pitt runs in the top of the first inning. Three errant throws that short-hopped past their target bases were the main culprit.
Sikes (5-2) was credited with a no-hitter by the home team scorebook although a couple of the Cats’ errors off Pirate bats could have been scored as hits. Paris infielders were in position to make plays, but didn’t. The senior righthander struck out 11 and walked 2.
By contrast, the Pirates were perfect in the field, especially the pitcher McGee and shortstop Derrick McCellon. Paris scored its lone run in the third inning on a Sikes RBI double, but the Cats were in line for a bigger inning if it weren’t for excellent plays in the field turned in by the duo.
The Nos. 8-9 hitters, Walker Preston and Zach Nation, led off the inning with back-to-back singles. Leadoff hitter Chandler Aynes followed with a hard grounder headed for the left infield hole until McCellon made a diving stop to his right. He tossed to second for the forceout while still on his back.
X’Tavious Young then bunted towards the mound. McGee quickly fielded the bunt and caught the Cats’ lead runner in no-man’s land between third and home for the second out. Sikes plated Aynes with a shot to left-centerfield to trim the Pitt lead to 2-1 before McGee got one of his 6 strikeouts to end the threat.
McGee started a 1-6-3 double play in the fifth inning, and he ended the Cats’ final scoring gasp in the sixth with a strikeout after Corey Allen ripped a 2-out double down the rightfield line.
The loss dropped Paris into a three-way tie for third place in the district. Pleasant Grove sits atop the standings at 5-0, while North Lamar is 3-2. Paris, Atlanta, and Liberty-Eylau all sport 2-3 district marks, and Pitt is 1-4. Paris is 14-8 overall.
The Cats will try to refocus Tuesday when they make the short trip across town to face North Lamar, weather permitting.
Paris track and field athletes participated in the Kaufman Golden Lion Relays Thursday as a final tuneup for next week’s District 14-4A Championships in Atlanta.
Paris finished fourth overall in the varsity boys division and was fifth among varsity girls. The Wildcats would have won the JV boys team title except for a false start disqualification in the 4x100 meter relay. The JV Cats finished a point behind host Kaufman, 137.5 to 136.5.
Jack Davidson delivers 2-run single to left in Cats’ fifth inning
There’s no question the 2017 Paris Wildcats feed off their two All-District veterans, senior Phillip Sikes and junior Zach Norris. Sikes broke out of a 2-for-17 hitting slump with a triple and double, while Norris pitched 6 strong innings in a 6-3 Paris win at Liberty-Eylau Tuesday.
The much-needed victory pulled Paris into a 4-team logjam for second place in District 14-4A as the race nears the midpoint. No. 4-ranked Pleasant Grove has separated from the pack with a perfect 4-0 mark, while Paris, North Lamar, Atlanta, and Liberty-Eylau all sit 2 games back with 2-2 records. The Cats close out the first round Friday when they host a dangerous Pittsburg team still looking for its first district win.
“Welcome back, Phillip,” Paris coach Bill Sikes greeted his nephew and University of New Mexico signee in the dugout following Tuesday’s big win.
Sikes had a torrid start to the season and was a big reason the Cats rose to a top 20 ranking after a pair of tournament championships. His recent slide at the plate has coincided with the team’s 2-4 showing in the win-loss column that has dropped Paris (14-7) completely out of the state rankings.
Despite the recent hitting woes, Sikes is still batting .404 for the season with 3 homers, 3 triples, and 7 doubles, and is the team’s top pitcher with a 5-1 record.
Sikes wasted no time Tuesday making up for lost time at the plate. He jumped on the first pitch he saw from L-E starter Garrett Brooks for a triple on a deep drive to left-centerfield to start a 2-out rally in the first inning. Norris followed by legging out an infield single to score Sikes and give the Cats a 1-0 lead.
The Leopards tied the game, 1-1, in their half of the first on an RBI single by shortstop Cutter Webb, who had 3 of the 6 L-E hits collected off Norris (4-1). The Cats’ No. 2 starter had runners in scoring position in every inning except the fifth but repeatedly worked out of jams by striking out 12 Leopards. Norris walked just 1 batter.
“Zach pitched a great game for us,” Sikes said. “He’s had some bad luck lately (pulled after 4 innings in a no-decision start vs. Gilmer and losing at PG, 5-0, in his previous start), but he really battles. That’s a scrappy ballclub (L-E) over there.”
The Cats were helped by a pair of Leopard errors to take the lead for good in the fourth, 2-1. Jack Davidson, who had 3 hits in the game, scored when a wide throw pulled the catcher off home plate on a force play grounder.
Paris increased the lead to 4-1 with a pair of runs in the fifth. Sikes led off the inning with a double to the right-center gap. Corey Allen also advanced into scoring position after being hit by a pitch and stealing a base. Davidson followed with a solid single to left to bring home both runners.
The Cats added their 2 final runs in the sixth on an RBI grounder by Norris and a passed ball.
With Norris nearing his pitch count limit, Allen was brought to the mound to pitch the seventh. Allen hit a couple of batters but got a strikeout with the potential tying run at the plate to end the game.
In addition to Davidson’s 3 hits, Allen, Sikes, and Zach Nation managed 2 apiece in the Paris 13-hit attack.
Reiever Corey Allen jumps for joy on pitching mound after getting a strikeout to end the game
Three members of the Paris Ladycats soccer team earned first team selections on this season’s District 11-4A first team: Senior forward Tieren Gates, senior midfielder Anahdian Mitchell, and junior defender Sarah Bloodworth.
Second team selections went to junior midfielders Estephany Balderas and Deagan Dingman along with junior forward Katy Hall. Receiving honorable mention were seniors Lindi Hamner (G) and Ashley Wilson (D); juniors Emily Williams (MF), Laney Madding (MF), Zanesha Dangerfield (F) and Brylei Moore (D); and to freshman Grace Woodby (MF).
The 2017 Ladycats finished with a 10-10-3 season record. They lost in the bi-district round to Mabank.
This year’s All-Red River Valley boys basketball team features a trio of All-State players: Paris guards Jalon Pipkins and Josh Robinson along with Clarksville post Clashon Gaffney. The team is selected by The Paris News.
Pipkins, a senior, and Robinson, a junior, led the Wildcats to the Region 2-4A finals and a 28-5 overall record. Pipkins averaged 22 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. Robinson scored 27 points a game with 8 rebounds and 5 assists.
Coach Billy Mack Steed, who passed the 500-win career milestone during the season, was named Coach of the Year, and senior Sam Hawkes was selected to the first team. Second team designations went to sophomores Vershaud Richardson and Cameron Jones.
Seth Hudgins watches the ball hook into the top right corner of the A+ Academy goal for the Cats’ lone goal in a frustrating 3-1 defeat to the Dallas private school in the area round playoffs
The 2017 Paris Wildcats had one off night enroute to their fourth straight district boys soccer championship. They lost their first district game in three seasons by a 2-0 count at Nevada Community on Feb. 17.
You play each district opponent twice in soccer, so the Cats were able to avenge that loss on March 7 when the Braves visited Wildcat Stadium and left with a 0-4 bruising.
But in the playoffs you don’t get second chances. Paris had 11 prime scoring opportunities in the first half alone in Friday’s Class 4A Area Round match at Greenville’s T. A. Cotton Ford Stadium against A+ Academy of Dallas. The Cats converted just one of those situations to create a 1-1 halftime tie before the Knights took advantage of the Cats’ failure to finish by scoring twice in the second half to take a 3-1 decision and end the season for Paris (17-5-3).
The Dallas private school, a newcomer to UIL playoff soccer, looked vulnerable in goal during warmups. Unfortunately, the Cats never fully tested the Knights’ goalkeeper with on-target shots, especially in the game’s key opening minutes:
Connect on just a couple of those prime opportunities and the Cats could have been in cruise control headed towards a regional quarterfinal against District 12 champion Terrell.
Instead, they got a dogfight against an opponent that pushed across the match’s first goal with 22:12 left in the half. A free kick from midfield sailed into the goalie’s box. The Knights’ Andrew Perez slipped past the Paris defense and jumped for a header at the same time that Wildcat goalkeeper Cade Blackmon arrived to swat the ball away. Their collision resulted in a loose ball that Lexus Perez muscled into a vacated net.
Still more futility befell the Cats. Just one minute after A+ had taken the stunning 1-0 lead, Paris was back attacking the Knights’ goal. A free kick from 40 yards out by Hudgins found ping-pong headers by Zach Lamb and Stanley Watkins that wound up bouncing off the goalie’s chest and out of play. The subsequent corner kick resulted in a quick shot by Harris from 10 yards on the right wing that carried over the goal.
Finally the Cats hit paydirt with 15:38 left until halftime. A take-down of Mitchell set up a free kick on the left wing from 25 yards away by Hudgins. His shot hooked over a mis-timed leap by the Knights’ goalie and into the top right 90 of the goal to tie the match at 1-1.
Paris had three more golden opportunities to take the lead before intermission. With 10 minutes remaining, a header by Harris off a corner kick flew over the goal. Another corner setup with 8 minutes to go brought a wild scrum in the box that lasted an agonizing 15 full seconds with 5 Cats getting touches before the final shot by Harris went wide left. With just seconds remaining, the Cats reversed the attack and found Mitchell down the left flank, but his shot from a severe angle carried just wide of the far post.
The teams battled to a draw for the first 17 minutes of the second half before the situation soured for the Cats. A Knights corner kick carried past the goal area but was headed back in play by Andrew Perez. It fell at the feet of Ramiro Oviedo who quickly turned and flicked the ball across the goalmouth and into the net before the Cats’ defense could recover.
A+ had regained the lead and momentum at 2-1 with 23:05 left in the match.
Paris had a few opportunities to knot the score but Watkins and Harris couldn’t quite catch up with some nice crosses sent into the box. With 10 minutes remaining, Paris had a well-executed offensive run that resulted in a Lamb shot from 13 yards on the left wing that rolled wide right across the goalmouth.
With the Knights going into a defensive shell and sometimes holding back 9 players to help the goalie guard the goal, Paris chances were choked off. Then, with 5:11 left to play, A+ launched a quick counterstrike that resulted in a Paris foul in the box. Lexus Perez took the PK. Blackmon guessed right. Perez went left.
With a 3-1 lead there were just 5 minutes of frustration remaining in the Wildcats’ season. It was especially tough for the 10 Paris seniors who had led the team to its first playoff win since 2012 and hoped for so much more.
Fortunes can change rapidly in District 14-4A baseball. Just one week ago the Paris Wildcats were ranked 20th in the state and sharing the top spot in district following an impressive 9-0 win over North Lamar.
Today, three games deep into the district campaign they’d be out of the playoff picture, if the playoffs were to start today, following a 6-1 meltdown Friday at PJC Hub Hollis Field at the hands of the Atlanta Rabbits.
Luckily, there’s still time on their side with seven games left on the schedule starting Tuesday with a trip to Texarkana to face Liberty-Eylau. No. 4 ranked Pleasant Grove stands atop the district standings at a perfect 3-0, while L-E and NL share second at 2-1. Paris and Atlanta are tied at 1-2 and a strong Pittsburg team is struggling at 0-3.
Lack of clutch hitting was the biggest culprit last week in district play. Paris (13-7) left 8 runners stranded in a 5-0 loss at PG on Tuesday, and the Cats left 10 runners on base Friday against Atlanta.
Sophomore second baseman Jack Davidson had the only Paris RBI when his 2-out double tied the score at 1-1 in the bottom of the first.
The Rabbits (8-9) regained the lead with a single run in the second and tacked on another run in the fifth against starter Phillip Sikes (5-1). The senior struck out 19 batters in the 9-0 win over NL, but was feeling the effects of flu-like symptoms one week later. He gave up 6 hits, walked 2 Rabbs with 12 strikeouts in 5 innings of work.
Corey Allen pitched the final 2 innings. A hit batter and pair of Atlanta hits loaded the bases with no outs in the sixth when an errant throw to first rolled down the rightfield line to score the final 3 Rabbit runs. Allen struck out 3 Rabbs.
Zach Norris and Walker Preston each collected 2 hits in the game for Paris.
The Paris Ladycats softball team reached a milestone last Friday in a 14-2 loss to North Lamar. There was no big fanfare or celebration because it was a dubious distinction they’d rather forget.
The loss to the Pantherettes marked the 50th straight district defeat for Paris dating back 5 seasons. Competing in one of the state’s better softball districts, Paris hadn’t tasted victory since March 23, 2012, when the Ladycats edged Liberty-Eylau, 5-4. Since then, they’ve endured a succession of 5 head coaches and countless outings shortened by run-rules.
It had gotton so bad that opposing coaches would have runners deliberately leave base early to be called out and end some nightmarish double-digit innings.
That all became a faint memory Tuesday night when the Ladycats put history behind them with a 6-0 win at Pleasant Grove. The streak is dead. Long live the (winning) streak.
Freshman Saya Swain delivers some heat to the plate in a 20-strikeout performance for Paris
The good thing about rebuilding a softball program is that it only takes one player to turn fortune on its heels, especially if that one player can consistently throw BBs in the strike zone. Meet Saya Swain, a freshman pitcher who has powered the Ladycats to a respectable 5-8 record this year. Swain struck out 20 Lady Hawks Tuesday while giving up just 3 hits and a walk.
Paris erupted for all 6 of its runs in the fourth inning. Wildness by the Lady Hawks was a big culprit along with 7 stolen bases by Ladycat base runners.
Swain contributed a double to the Paris offense. Other hits were collected by Alexis Muse, Taylor White, Makayla Brown, Kammie Franklin, and Akerria Garvin.
Paris closes out the first half of district play Friday when the Ladycats host Atlanta in what will suddenly be a key District 14-4A game for them. The once seemingly impossible dream of earning a playoff berth is now within reach.
NL and Pittsburg are district co-leaders at 4-0, while Liberty-Eylau is third at 2-2. Paris and PG are tied for the fourth and final playoff spot at 1-3, while Atlanta is 0-4.
There will be growing pains, for sure, but first-year coach Kara Crawford and her staff have the essential foundation in place to achieve more positive milestones in the near future.
Even if they don’t make it to the post-season in 2017, district rivals know that Paris is no longer an automatic “W” on the schedule.
To beat a state baseball powerhouse like Pleasant Grove you’ve got to take advantage of your opportunies because you won’t get many of them. The 20th-ranked Paris Wildcats left 8 runners stranded on base including a pair of bases-loaded situations as the 4th-ranked Hawks posted a 5-0 shutout Tuesday night at Hawk Field.
The lack of clutch hitting wasted a superb pitching outing by junior Zach Norris (3-1) who limited the hot-hitting Hawks to 6 hits while striking out 9 and walking 3.
“Zach pitched great and kept us in the game,” Paris coach Bill Sikes said, “but we didn’t take advantage of our chances to score.”
The tone was set early when the Cats opened the third inning on a Daniel Blackmon double and Walker Preston single to put runners on the corners with no outs. Preston was caught stealing on a close play at second, and a groundout to third and strikeout snuffed out the threat.
The Hawks broke through in their half of the third on a Heath Ferguson RBI double down the rightfield line, but the Cats had a chance to rebound in the fourth when they loaded the bases with 2 outs by taking advantage of some wildness by PG starting pitcher Tyler Jeans.
As would be the trend all night, Jeans responded by working an 0-2 count on the next hitter and delivering a deadly strikeout punch.
“He made pitches when he had to,” Sikes said.
PG made it a 2-0 game in the bottom of the fourth on a RBI single by catcher Keaton Russo. Still, Paris had a chance to get back in the game in the sixth with a leadoff walk and hit batter.
Again, Jeans worked ahead in the count and mowed down the next two Paris hitters before issuing a 4-ball walk to load the bases with 2 outs. He opened with a ball to the next batter, which brought PG coach Riley Fincher to the mound for a pitching change.
Reliever Allen Lambert finished off the inning with a strikeout, and the third PG pitcher of the evening, Matthew Gilley, started and finished the seventh.
In the meantime the Hawks pushed across 3 insurance runs in the sixth. Jeans reached across the plate to slap a wounded duck double that died in leftfield and drove home a pair of runs in the process. Connor Ouellette followed with an RBI single to drive home Jeans for the final run.
The loss dropped Paris to 13-6 overall and 1-1 in district. PG is now 18-2 and 2-0. The Cats return home Friday to host Atlanta (7-9, 0-2) in their next district outing.
Future New Mexico Lobo Phillip Sikes overwhelmed North Lamar bats with a 19-strikeout, no walk, 1-hitter Saturday night at PJC’s Hub Hollis Field to lead Paris to a dominant, 9-0 win over the Panthers in the District 14-4A baseball opener.
Now, the scary part for future district opponents: His coach (and uncle) thinks he can do better.
“Honestly,” Paris head coach Bill Sikes said afterwards, “I think he’s had better stuff this year.” Then, a sheepish grin overtook the normally cautious coach.
“But I’ll take it.”
It was a big win for the 20th-ranked Cats (13-5) in a competitive district that also includes 4th-ranked Pleasant Grove and No. 12 Pittsburg. PG shut down Pitt Saturday, 10-0, behind the Hawks’ senior ace Caleb Bolden, while Liberty-Eylau beat Atlanta, 10-3, in the other district opener.
Paris travels to Texarkana Tuesday. While that early district showdown is not expected to match Bolden and Sikes on the mound, the Cats’ coach knows he needs solid outings from his nephew to keep pace for one of the district’s four playoff berths.
He got it Saturday. Sikes struck out the first 11 Panther batters he faced. No. 3 hitter Austin Exum was the first NL hitter to put a ball in play with 2 outs in the fourth inning when his check-swing infield bouncer was bobbled, allowing Exum to reach first base and end Sikes’ perfect night.
Sikes’ no-hitter disappeared when cleanup hitter Zeke Woods followed with a line-drive single to left. The cutoff throw was misplayed for Paris’ second error of the inning, putting both runners in scoring position.
Sikes recovered to get strikeout No. 12 and end the Panthers’ only threat of the evening. Exum’s pop foulout to lead off the seventh inning was the only other disruption in a steady stream of K’s.
The Cats’ opportunistic offense took advantage of 6 NL errors, 3 walks, and 4 hit batters to go with 6 hits, 2 sacrifice flyouts, and a couple of sacrifice bunts. The Panther defense also couldn’t make the Cats pay for a couple of base-running errors that resulted in run-downs.
The big damage came in a 5-run second when the Cats sent 10 batters to the plate. Paris tacked on 2 runs in both third and fourth innings, but the Cats couldn’t manage a 10th run to end the game early via the run rule.
Freshman catcher Zach Nation was the only Paris hitter to collect 2 hits. RBI’s were credited to Chandler Aynes, Daniel Blackmon, Zach Norris, Walker Preston, X’Tavous Young, and Sikes (2).
Paris High senior Matt Cochran earned his fourth trip to the regional tennis tournament by defending his district boys singles championship Thursday in the District 14-4A meet in Texarkana.
Matt Cochran (left) and Sahil Prakash finished 1-2 at the District 14-4A meet and will advance to the regional tournament
Cochran beat sophomore teammate Sahil Prakash in the finals. Both players will advance to the Region 2 Championships April 17-19 at Longview High School. Cochran finished third at last year’s regionals, just missing out on a trip to the state finals.
The two Wildcats will be joined at regionals by the girls doubles team of seniors Megan Barton and Ashlyn Fleming. The Ladycat duo finished second to the North Lamar team of Kylee Scudder and Haley Porter. It will be a return trip to regionals for Fleming who was part of the district champion mixed doubles team in 2016.
The pairing of junior Reagan Benson and senior Soyle Torres finished third at district in girls doubles. The boys doubles team of juniors Zain Syed and Ramiro Ramirez placed fourth.
Senior Arleigh White competed in girls singles and won her first match.
The PHS tennis team is coached by Jim Davis.
Girls doubles trophies went to (from left) Soyle Torres, Megan Barton, Ashlyn Fleming, and Reagan Benson (Photos by Mason Sikes)
Paris Ladycat post players Peaches Jackson and Dextiny Patrick were named to the All-Red River Valley girls basketball first team selected by The Paris News.
Jackson, a sophomore, averaged 19 points and 9 rebounds per game, while the senior Patrick averaged 9 points and 9 rebounds.
Junior point guard Serenity Sanders received a second team berth, while gaining honorable mention were junior Nautica Harris and senior Drea Jenkins.
The 7th-ranked North Lamar Pantherettes broke open a pitchers’ duel with four runs in each of the final two innings to come away with a 14-2 District 14-4A win over the Paris Ladycats Friday in a game moved to Chisum’s new artificial turf softball field due to rain that moved into the area earlier in the day.
NL junior Raegan Richardson struck out 15 Paris batters while Paris freshman Saya Swain fanned 14 NL hitters.
The Ladycats scored their first run in the bottom of the first inning without benefit of a hit. Their second run came in the fifth on an RBI home run by Swain. Ironically, Swain was called out on appeal when she failed to touch first base. Akierria Garvin led the Paris offense with 2 hits.
Paris continues district play Tuesday at Pleasant Grove.
2017-18 Blazettes Officers: (from left) 2nd Lt. Keller Stripland, 1st Lt. Roneisha Davis, Captain Yessica Ramirez
Tryouts were held recently for selection of officers and line members for next year’s Blazettes drill team.
Heading the 2017-18 Blazettes will be Captain Yessica Ramirez along with 1st Lt. Roneisha Davis and 2nd Lt. Keller Stripland.
Line members chosen were Casia Johnson, Cynthia Dehoyos, Linda Brooks, Amyrani Davis, Tarceona Fisher, Kammie Franklin, Zariya Lewis, Ashjwanae Mickens, Shyann Murry, Mija Pollock, Angela Ramirez, I’leah Reynolds, Zakayla Runnels, Savannah Sanders, Javouseya Sims, Christiana Swindle, and Zeara Alexander.
Managers will be Ceaira Gill and Lacy Edwards. Blazettes co-sponsors are Taneria Williams and Kelley Ferguson.
Bi-District Award Winners: (from left) Adryan McGuire, Robbie Turner, Reagan Stone, Hannah England, Muchien Hang
The Paris High UIL One Act Play Epic Proportions placed second in a tough District 14-4A and advanced to Bi-District competition held over Spring Break at Denison High School. At the bi-district contest the three lead actors, senior Adryan McGuire, freshman Robbie Turner, and junior Reagan Stone, each earned All Star Cast awards.
Junior Hannah England received honorable mention for her dual roles as Mr. DeWitt and the Narrator. Senior Muchien Hang received an Outstanding Technician Award for her lighting.
Each month Paris High staff recognizes a student who goes above and beyond the norm of student expectations to help make the school a better place for learning. The February winner is Payne Couts. See monthly winners on our Students of the Month page.
Paris High juniors (from left) Jeremy Seals, Evelyn Brown, Ansley Downs, and Alyssa Tacuyan have been selected to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp. Read more.
Deon Minor Relays. Wildcat Stadium will be the site of the annual Deon Minor Relays Thursday, March 22, as the Wildcats and Ladycats track teams welcome other regional schools to this big pre-district warmup meet. Field events will start about 3 p.m. with running finals around 5:30.
District Soccer. The Paris Ladycats and Wildcats varsity soccer teams host Bonham for a District 11-4A doubleheader Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium. The girls game starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by the boys at 7:15.