Shoop tourney starts tonight on the Hilltop

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By Lee Kendall

Another top-notch set of teams will descend on the Hilltop this weekend for the annual Frank Shoop Classic Baseball Tournament at Harrison County.

The two-pool, six-team field features two teams that made it to the Forcht Bank/KHSAA State Tournament last year, another team that made it to the semi-state level of play in 2008, and a combined 2008 record of 156-53.

Five of the six teams in this year’s tournament were ranked in the state-wide Kentucky High School Baseball Coaches Association’s pre-season coaches poll heading into this season.

Harrison County is ranked eighth, Greenup County is ranked 15th, Beechwood is 32nd, with South Laurel and Estill County both receiving votes.

Harrison County, currently 3-2 on the year, will open the tournament tonight against Conner (3-2) at 5:30 p.m. in pool A. In the second contest tonight, Beechwood (4-1) will take on Estill County (4-1) in a pool B game.

Tomorrow night, Harrison County plays South Laurel (4-1) in the opener at 6 p.m., and Estill County plays Greenup County(4-3) in the nightcap.

The tournament is slated to conclude on Saturday with four games scheduled. Pool play wraps up with South Laurel meeting Conner at 10:30 a.m., followed by Beechwood playing Greenup Co. at 1 p.m.

The second-place team in each pool will play for third place in the tournament at 3:30, with the championship game following at 6 p.m.

“There are some really good teams in this year’s tournament,” said HCHS coach Mac Whitaker. “Teams like to come to Harrison County to play. They know the competition will be good and that we will take care of them.”

Both Greenup County and Harrison County made it to the eight-team state tournament at Applebee’s Park in Lexington last year. Greenup County lost in the first round to eventual runner-up Lawrence County, 4-0, while Harrison County lost in the opening round to Lexington Catholic, 1-0, in nine innings.

Estill County was prevented from reaching the Elite Eight by Greenup County, losing to the Musketeers in two straight games in the semi-state 8 tournament.

2008 was good to all the teams playing in this year’s Shoop Classic. Harrison County ended last year with a 35-6 record, Greenup County was 36-7, Estill County finished 24-4, Beechwood was 23-10, South Laurel was 22-14 and Conner was 16-12.

Coming off a so-so 1-2 spring break record in Florida, Whitaker is looking for a break in the weather for this weekend.

“The weather we had last week in Florida was the worst I can ever remember,” he said. “The competition was good and I think we got something out of it, but the weather was just horrible all week… as a matter of fact, we left a day early to come home and drove through terrible weather all the way.”

The games Harrison County had scheduled for Monday and Tuesday of this week were postponed due to rainy, cold weather.

Harrison County did salvage a win in its last game in Pensacola, scoring all six runs in the fifth inning, on the way to a 6-5 win over Gulf Breeze High School.

That win was tempered by a freak injury to starting pitcher Logan Dailey that has the rest of the season in jeopardy for the strapping sophomore right-hander.

Dailey was hit on the shoulder while batting and the ball caromed under his helmet and hit his ear. The resulting injury to his eardrum has him on the shelf for an undetermined amount of time.

“Right now, Logan is shut down indefinitely,” said Whitaker. “He isn’t allowed to do anything strenuous at all. He can’t lift weights, throw, run… anything at all. He is completely shut down and the doctor says the earliest he might return will be the first of May, if he is able to come back then. It’s a tough blow for him and for our team. Logan is our top pitcher right now, but somebody will step up and take up the slack, I’m sure. Somebody always does.”

Harrison County has three games scheduled for early next week, before heading to Greenup County for its tournament next Friday.

On Monday, the Breds travel to Carlisle to take on Nicholas County at 5 p.m. Tuesday the Breds host Campbell County at 5:30 and on Wednesday Bourbon County comes to town for a 5 p.m. game.