2/24/2013 12:40:00 AM Column: 50-50 D-backs; a Badger linebacker MVP; YC coaching vacancies
Matt Hinshaw/The Daily Courier In this Feb. 5, 2013, file photo, Yavapai College head coach Ryan Cougill looks to the bullpen while talking with his starting pitcher Matt Southard and catcher Humberto Aranda (23) while playing against Glendale in Prescott.
Baseball season officially started this week with spring training games getting under way.
How's this for the ultimate half-full/half-empty question for Diamondbacks fans? Vegas oddsmakers this week set the over-under for how many of the D-backs' 162 games the team will win in 2013 at 81.5.
So at this point, statistically, fans should expect a literal coin flip on winning or losing this season.
BADGER LB MVP
Football players will be the first to tell you there is no off-season. Three months after the Prescott Badgers played their last game, PHS junior linebacker Jared Tiefenthaler hasn't stopped hitting.
The big man (almost 6-feet tall and 251 pounds) competed in the National Underclassmen Combine held at Apache Junction High School on Feb. 16-17. He emerged as the linebacker MVP among 11th graders.
"Great speed, closes on deep balls well, great leader, extremely athletic for 251 lbs," read Jared's combine scouting report.
And the Badger program still has him for another season, much to the delight of the coaching staff and locker room.
Keep hittin', Jared.
90 VIE FOR YC VOLLEY
Don't forget there are a couple of head coaching positions up for grabs at Yavapai College. Well, technically one.
The volleyball program is looking for a new leader, and there has been no shortage of interest in the Prescott campus gig. More than 90 people have applied, according to AD Brad Clifford, who has narrowed the candidate field down to seven who were interviewed over the phone. The field is now down to three candidates, who will visit the campus for in-person interviews over the next couple weeks.
Clifford, who said the process is "going really well," hopes to have a decision by the end of March and have the new coach start around April 1.
The other open coaching position is, of course, for head coach of the baseball program. At least as long as an "interim" tag precedes current boss Ryan Cougill's name.
I don't disagree with opening it up to a national search after the spring season ends, as the athletic department has previously announced it will do. Any number of qualified baseball minds out there would love to steer a program just itching to return to nationals while nestled in a super hometown. I can think of a head coach or two even in the ACCAC that would give it serious consideration.
But Cougs (okay, that's our adopted nickname for Cougill around the Courier sports department) will have something to say about the future of the program. There's no denying the hot start he's led the Roughriders to, in both commitment and execution. The next four weeks will tell a lot. Yavapai has eight conference games before spending its usual mid-March home stand entertaining a slew of nonconference clubs during a 12-game stretch at the friendly confines.
At the moment, none of those nonconference teams are nationally ranked. I wouldn't mind seeing the unranked Roughriders take batting practice at home during that stretch to flex some muscle prior to the season's second half.
Later on, an April 20th doubleheader at home against Central could be one to circle on your schedule during the regular season's final turn.
Before that, though, go see the single game scheduled at home March 11 with Japan's Meiji University. Part of the Tokyo Big Six University League, baseballreference.com scouts call Meiji "one of the strongest powers in Japanese collegiate baseball." No less than 16 of their alumni are in the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame.
Last note on Yavapai athletics: Watch next month for the seven-time national champion soccer team to announce its new recruiting class for the 2013 fall season.
TYPO TRASH TALK
If you, well, simply have eyes, you caught in our Thursday paper a pretty glaring error. In a headline no less, we inadvertently swapped the Washington and Washington State school names during the Pac-12 basketball rundown.
It was almost worth it, though, if only to hear one voicemail left for us by a regular reader - and Pac-12 fanatic - who called us out for our fumble.
He suggested that we apologize in print for the error but added, "...although I don't think it matters if you apologize to the Cougars because most of them can't read anyway."
Anytime a print error can still lead to some trash talking between rival fans, we feel something was accomplished.
HAPPY ANN'Y MIDDLEMORE
Happy Anniversary to John Middlemore - Prescott High's former 6-8 All-Region boys basketball center - who made the tough decision not to play in the Badgers' state tournament opener 20 years ago this week.
Middlemore was Prescott's leading scorer (19 ppg) and rebounder (11 rpg) by the time the Badgers met up with Casa Grande in the first round of the state playoffs. Casa Grande came in with a 24-1 record and the state's No. 2 ranking, and Prescott sat at 12-11 on the season.
But Middlemore had a scheduling conflict, which forced him to choose between academics and athletics.
That week he was due to attend a six-day, all-expense paid "Voice of Democracy National Competition" with a few dozen other high school students from across the country in Washington D.C. There he was to receive a $3,500 scholarship for winning a state speech contest, and vie for other academic honors and awards.
Meanwhile, his team needed its standout player in what was to be the senior's last shot to compete in the state playoffs.
What to do?
He went to D.C.
"I tried every way possible to work around it," he told the Courier at the time, adding that not everyone supported his decision and that he had received "a lot of garbage" for it. "But if you're not present you have to forfeit the scholarship money."
The Badgers rolled into the playoff game without him. Out-rebounded 17-6 in the first half, Prescott succumbed to Casa Grande 58-48, ending the Badgers' season.
Tucson Sunnyside later won the 4A state title that year to cap a 29-0 season.
Middlemore went on to reach great heights. His award-winning speech on freedom was entered into the Congressional Record on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, and he later played hoops for the Air Force Academy.