Sunday, May 14, 2017

UAM's Halbert named to all-tournament team

UAM baseball player Guy Halbert is pictured with his mother Dena during senior day festivities last month. Halbert was named to the Great American Conference all-tournament team.. (Courtesy of UAM Sports Information)

By Mark Buffalo
Staff Writer

ARKADELPHIA — Former Lonoke Jackrabbits baseball player and current Arkansas-Monticello Boll Weevil Guy Halbert was named to the Great American Conference All-Tournament team following his team’s sweep of the conference Final Four tournament Sunday at Henderson State. 
Halbert, who graduated from Lonoke High School in 2013, played two years at Arkansas Baptist College in Little Rock before transferring to UAM, an NCAA Division II school. 
Halbert hit two home runs in the tournament, including a grand slam in the opener against Arkansas Tech. He was 5 for 12 in the three-game set. 
Halbert, who is the designated hitter, is tied for the team lead in home runs with seven. He also has 34 runs batted in this season.
UAM will find out their NCAA Division II Tournament destination Monday. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Jackrabbits outhit Scrappers but season ends with 4-2 loss

Lonoke's Keith Lingo makes contact on an RBI single in the fifth inning against Nashville on Saturday. (Photos by Mark Buffalo)

By Mark Buffalo
Staff Writer

LONOKE — The Lonoke Jackrabbits couldn’t get a timely hit when they needed it and it cost them in the quarterfinals of the Class 4A state tournament Saturday at the Lonoke Ball Park.
Nashville scored two runs late to beat Lonoke 4-2, ending the Jackrabbits season at 21-13.
Lonoke led 10 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the fourth. The Jackrabbits also outhit the Scrappers 8-4 but Nashville earned four walks and had two batters hit by pitches. 
“I don’t really feel like they earned a lot, as far as driving in runs,” said first-year Lonoke coach Chris Foor. “We helped them with walks and untimely errors. And we allowed innings to continue.” 
Lonoke also had several more base runners thrown out at second and third bases. 
“We’re aggressive on the base paths,” Foor said. “But we made some errors on the base paths that were just not fundamentally sound. We had a couple of missed signals.”
Despite all that, Foor was proud of the way his team fought against Nashville. 
“We showed them that we belong right there with them,” he said. “We just couldn’t get that one hit to put us over the edge.”
Lonoke scored the game’s first run in the top of the first. Dalton Smith reached on a fielder’s choice and scored when Tallon Swint reached on an error. 
Nashville scored twice in the bottom of the frame to take a 2-1 lead. Zach Jamison walked and reached second on a error, which allowed Trace Beene on first base. They scored later in the frame.
Lonoke had a chance to do some damage in the second inning, loading the bases with one out. But a double play ended the threat.
The Jackrabbits loaded the bases again in the fourth. With two outs, Christian Cooper and Kameron Cole were on third and second respectively when Nashville intentionally walked Casey Martin to load the bases. However, the threat ended on a called third strike. 
Nashville loaded the bases in the fourth but Lonoke pitcher Haven Hunter worked out of the jam.
Lonoke finally tied the game in the top of the fifth. Hunter reached on an error and scored on a two-out single by Keith Lingo.
The tie was short lived. With two outs in the fifth, Nashville’s Austin Bowman doubled to center field. Martin relieved Hunter on the mound and got an infield ground ball but an error allowed the go-ahead run to score. 
The Scrappers added a run in the sixth Jamison tripled with two outs and scored on a single by Chris Willard.
Lonoke had a chance in the top of the seventh. Hunter led off with a single and Kade Stuart walked. Swint then hit into a double play, leaving Hunter at third base. Lingo popped out for the final out of the game. 
Cole led Lonoke at the plate, going 2 for 3. Hunter was 2 for 4. Also getting hits were Stuart, Lingo and Caleb Horton. 
Hunter got the loss, despite giving up only two hits in 4 2/3 innings of work. He struck out six.
Foor said he enjoyed his first year of coaching at Lonoke. 
“I love the people here,” Foor said. “People say that to be politically correct but those that have gotten to know me in this town know that it is not who I am. I’m a truthful person and I love the people of Lonoke. If you are up front and honest, I truly believe the people here would give you the shirt off their backs if you asked them.”
Foor said that it starts with the kids. 
“The kids at the high school are fun and energetic,” he said. “When you get onto the ball field, they’ve got fire to them. They want to succeed. They want to learn. It makes it enjoyable to be around and it’s fun to watch them grow when they have that kind of attitude.”

Lonoke pitcher Haven Hunter makes a delivery against Nashville. 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Jackrabbits win first state tourney game since 2012

Lonoke first baseman Keith Lingo awaits a throw during the regional tournament at Trumann. (Photo courtesy of Nathan McGowan)

By Mark Buffalo
Staff Writer

LONOKE — For the first time since the 2012 season, the Lonoke Jackrabbits have won a state tournament game.
On Thursday, the Jackrabbits overcame a 1-0 deficit to beat Pottsville 5-1 in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament, which is being played at the Lonoke Ball Park. Lonoke will play Nashville on Friday at 10 a.m. 
Lonoke’s last victory in state tournament action was an 8-7 win over Pulaski Academy in 12 innings in the state semifinals at Harrison. The Jackrabbits then lost to Shiloh Christian 4-0 in the state championship game at Baum Stadium in Fayetteville.
In Thursday’s victory, Pottsville led 1-0 after the top of the second. Lonoke tied it at 1-1 in the bottom of the frame when Keith Lingo singled and scored. 
The Jackrabbits took a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the third. Haven Hunter doubled and scored on a single by Talon Swint. 
The score remained the same until the fifth inning when Kade Stuart doubled and scored when Lingo reached on an error.
Lonoke’s final two runs came courtesy of Casey Martin’s 10th home run of the year. Kameron Cole led off the sixth with a walk and scored when Martin went deep to make the score 5-1. 
If the Jackrabbits beat Nashville, they will play in the state semifinals Saturday at noon against the winner of Booneville and Monticello.

Other first-round scores include: 
Monticello 7, Heber Springs 0
Shiloh Christian 3, Arkadelphia 0
Pea Ridge 5, Jonesboro Westside 2

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Jackrabbits finish as district-tourney runners-up

The Lonoke Jackrabbits baseball team fell to CAC 6-5 in the 4A-2 District Tournament to finish as the runners-up. (Photo by Jennifer Martin)

By Mark Buffalo
Staff Writer

BATESVILLE — Lonoke and Central Arkansas Christian played a classic high school baseball game in the finals of the 4A-2 District Tournament on Friday at Southside High School. 
For Jackrabbits fans, the ending was not one they wanted.
CAC’s Braden Quesinberry hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the seventh to give the Mustangs a 6-5 win.
The score was tied 3-3 heading into the top of the seventh. Lonoke’s Casey Martin, a University of Arkansas signee, hit a two-run shot to give the Jackrabbits a 5-3 lead. The homer was his seventh of the season. Kameron Cole started the inning with a single and scored on Martin’s shot.
CAC’s game-winning home run came with one out off reliever Kade Stuart. 
Lonoke took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third. Haven Hunter hit a three-run shot. Scoring on the play were Cole and Dalton Smith.
CAC scored twice in the bottom of the third and once in the bottom of the fourth to tie the game at 3-3.
“I thought the kids did really well on both teams,” said first-year Lonoke coach Chris Foor. “Everyone tried hard. It was a true slugfest going back and forth.”
Foor said Quesinberry made a great swing on a good pitch from Stuart.
“Instead of trying to pull the ball like he did every single at-bat, he takes a different approach and goes to right center and it leaves the ball park,” Foor said. “You look back and we had opportunities. We let them get in with walks and errors. I truly believe if we see them in the regional that we have a good shot to win the next time.
“I think our boys want them. We’re 1-2 against them. All three have been great baseball games. It’s developed into a true rivalry.”
Lonoke will play Brookland in the first round of the Class 4A East Region Tournament on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. at Trumann.
The Jackrabbits beat the Bearcats 5-4 in the first round of the regional tournament last year at the Lonoke Ball Park. 
Foor said he has some former colleagues he coached with who work in northeast Arkansas and has gotten some information about Brookland. 
“They are a solid hitting team,” Foor said. “They play good defense. They are going to throw a soft-throwing lefty out there that is a true pitcher. He’s going to be crafty and he’s going to change speeds. He doesn’t have great velocity but he’s a pitcher.”
Foor said the Jackrabbits would work on hitting lefties similar to what they did in getting ready for Baptist Prep in the first round of the district tournament. Foor had several former Sylvan Hills players come in to throw during practice, as well as using the only left-handed pitcher he has, Bradley Aycock.
“We’ll worry more about making us better as opposed to chasing them,” he said. “We’ll take a lot of ground balls and get back to who we are. If we take care of us, it’s hard for anybody in the state to beat us.”
Foor, who was an assistant at Sylvan Hills before coming to Lonoke this year, said his team has been a “family” this season, similar to what he experienced at the Sherwood school.
“That probably gives you more pride as a coach than anything,” he said. “It’s definitely there in this group. It is a very tight-knit group. That is why they are being successful in what they do.

Lonoke's Casey Martin delivers a pitch against EStem earlier this season. Martin pitched a one-hitter against Heber Springs in the semifinals of the district tournament. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)

The Jackrabbits advanced to the title game with a 9-0 win over Heber Springs.
Martin pitched a complete-game shutout, allowing only one hit while striking out six in seven innings of work. His only hit allowed came in the fourth inning. 
Lonoke scored three runs in the top of the first. Martin reached on an error and scored on a single by Hunter. He eventually scored on a single by Tallon Swint. 
Kade Stuart singled and scored on a passed ball.
Lonoke added to its lead in the third. Hunter reached on an error and scored on a sacrifice fly by Keith Lingo. Stuart singled and scored on a single by Caleb Horton. 
The Jackrabbits scored a single run in the fourth. Cole walked and scored on a single by Hunter. 
The Jackrabbits plated three runs in the sixth. Martin hit a home run in the inning. Also scoring were Christian Cooper and Cole. 
Lonoke beat Baptist Prep 18-1 in the first round of the district tournament. The big play of the game was a home run by Stuart.

The six Lonoke Jackrabbits seniors are, from left, Keith Lingo, Haven Hunter, Casey Martin, Kameron Cole, Caleb Horton and Ryan Truelove (Photo by Jennifer Martin)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Tyler Shaw is new Junior Jackrabbits coach

Tyler Shaw gives instructions to players during the Junior Jackrabbits' 22-18 win over Helena-West Helena Central last fall. Shaw is the new Lonoke Junior Jackrabbits head coach, replacing Nick Smith, who was promoted to offensive coordinator for the high school squad. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)

By Mark Buffalo
Staff Writer

LONOKE — Assistant football coach Tyler Shaw is the new Lonoke Junior Jackrabbits head coach.
Shaw was promoted by the Lonoke School Board during its meeting Monday night. The hiring was confirmed via text message with Lonoke Athletic Director Marc Sherrell. Shaw replaces Nick Smith, who was promoted to offensive coordinator for the high school team. 
Shaw, 25, is in his second year of teaching at Lonoke, the only school he’s worked at. He student taught and helped with football and baseball at Bauxite prior to coming to Lonoke. 
“I’m excited about it,” Shaw said Wednesday afternoon. “I feel like it’s a great opportunity at a school that has a lot of tradition and a program that has a lot of tradition.”
Shaw said he’s excited about working under Taggart Moore, who is the head football coach for the high school team. 
“He brings a lot to the program,” Shaw said of Moore. “A lot of the morals, character and his characteristics … I’m excited about being a part of that.”
Moore is also excited to continue working with Shaw.
“Tyler is the perfect fit to lead the junior high program,” Moore said. “He is young, energetic and hard working. He is excited to build on the success they had last season. Tyler will also be a huge asset to the senior high team.”
Among his other duties, Shaw serves as assistant coach for the Lady Jackrabbits softball team. He also teaches E.A.S.T at Lonoke Middle School. 
Shaw is a graduate of Joe T. Robinson High School in Little Rock where he played football, basketball, baseball and golf. He received his bachelor’s degree from Henderson State University in Arkadelphia. 
Shaw and his wife Megan live in Maumelle. 

Monday, March 13, 2017

Smith promoted to offensive coordinator for Jackrabbits

Lonoke Junior Jackrabbits football coach Nick Smith has been promoted to offensive coordinator for the high school team under new coach Taggart Moore. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)

By Mark Buffalo
Staff Writer

LONOKE — Lonoke Junior Jackrabbits head football coach Nick Smith has been promoted to offensive coordinator for new Jackrabbits coach Taggart Moore.
Smith, 25, is in his second year at Lonoke. He was an assistant junior high football coach in 2015 before being promoted to head junior high coach before the 2016 season. Smith is also the assistant coach for the Lonoke Jackrabbits baseball team under head coach Chris Foor. Smith served as interim head coach for the end of the 2016 baseball season, helping the Jackrabbits to the Class 4A state tournament. 
“It is with great honor and joy the I will be the next offensive coordinator for the Lonoke Jackrabbits,” Smith said on his personal Facebook page. “I cannot express the excitement I have to be a part of this team, coaching staff and community. I want to thank my new head coach Taggart Moore for giving me this opportunity.”
Moore was interim head coach the last six weeks of the 2016 season. He was given the job full time earlier this month. 
“I’m really excited about what Nick brings to the table,” Moore said of Smith. “There is no doubt that he has a great offensive mind. He grew up around the game of football and knows what it takes to be a successful coach.”
Moore said no decision has been made on who will replace Smith as head junior high coach.
Smith is the son of Dover head football coach Greg Smith. 
Nick Smith is a 2009 graduate of Prescott High School. He played one year of college football at NCAA Division III East Texas Baptist University in Marshall, Texas. He then transferred to Henderson State University in Arkadelphia where he received his bachelor’s degree. 
Smith and his wife Trisha live in Lonoke. 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Taggart Moore is new Lonoke Jackrabbits football coach

Lonoke football coach Taggart Moore talks to his players during his first game as interim coach last season at Baptist Prep. Moore was hired as Doug Bost's permanent replacement by the Lonoke School Board during a special meeting Monday night. (Photo by Mark Buffalo)

By Mark Buffalo
Staff Writer

LONOKE — The Lonoke School Board removed the interim tag from coach Taggart Moore during a special school board meeting Monday night.
Moore was officially hired as the new Lonoke Jackrabbits football coach. He served as interim coach following the resignation of former coach Doug Bost after the fourth game of the 2016 season. The hiring was confirmed by Lonoke School director of athletics Marc Sherrell.
“We had a lot of great applicants,” Sherrell said of those who applied for the Lonoke job. “We think Taggart will do an outstanding job.”
This year was Moore’s fourth season at Lonoke. He served as the defensive coordinator the last two years. 
“I’m just really excited about the opportunity, … I’m very blessed to have the opportunity,” Moore said Monday night. “I’ve already had the opportunity to work with the kids the last few months. We’ve built the program up. We’ve doubled the numbers. We’ve worked really hard to get in the weight room and add weight and to get bigger, faster and stronger than they’ve ever been and we’re just excited to see what is to come.”
During the season in 2016, Lonoke had players that numbered in the mid-30s. Moore said he currently has 57 in the program, which a good bit of those playing baseball. 
“Only 42 of those are in offseason right now,” Moore said. “We’ve got 15 coming back out of baseball. We’ve got the biggest numbers we’ve had since I’ve been here and probably recently, honestly.”
Moore said they have 14 players back who weren’t in the program last fall. He’s also got 21 seniors if they all stay in the program.
“It’s going to be huge,” he said. “They’ve all bought in. They’ve all been working their tails off.”
Moore said the Jackrabbits will run multiple sets on offense under his leadership.
“Our personnel has changed dramatically from last year with all of the new players,” Moore said. “That means we’re going to have to have a drastic change in the offense and defense. That means going to some things that will be more multiple and getting different personnel groups onto the field. 
“If we have to, we’re going to be in the shotgun. And when we get down on the goal line and we need to be under center, we’re going to be under center. We’re going to have a lot of different formations because we have a ton of new athletes out there and we’ve got to get them the ball in space.”
Moore said defensively the Jackrabbits will run a 3 front, switching from the 4 front they ran in 2016. 
“We’re the biggest we’ve been up front since I’ve been here,” he said. “We’re going to be able to have a little bit more speed and athleticism over there since we’ve got these other players out.”
Moore said he’s looking forward to working with assistant coaches Jack Keith and Tyler Tarrant, as well as the rest of the junior high staff. 
“I’m really excited,” he said. “The first thing we’re going to do is move those junior high guys up. We’re all going to be football coaches. We’re going to build the program 7-12th grade.”
Moore and his wife Anna, who is a teacher at Lonoke High School, are both excited to be in a “great district with so much support.”
“The parents, teachers, kids have supported me all through this,” he said. “We’ve extremely excited and super blessed to be in this position. We know that getting all these new kids out will be exciting. We’re just ready to hit the ground running and get this thing going.”