Former Cartersville High School pole vaulter, Anna Hightower, set a new career best at the Torrin Lawrence Memorial last weekend in Athens competing for Georgia Tech to headline this week's Athletes Beyond Bartow update.
Meanwhile, Sam Howard had another solid outing Friday for the Hartford Yard Goats and the bat of Connor Justus is starting to heat up in this week's update for Athletes Beyond Bartow.
On the college baseball diamonds, the JUCO, NAIA, and NCAA D-II playoffs have started and the Division I conference races are winding down as those teams get ready for conference tournaments in two weeks. In college softball, five local athletes are part of the NAIA playoff run by Reinhardt University and we have locals also representing on NCAA D-I and D-II teams in the post-season.
SAM HOWARD — Hartford Yard Goats - Double-A - Eastern League - Colorado Rockies affiliate (4th year pro; LHP; Georgia Southern; Cartersville HS). . . Howard took a shutout into the sixth inning last Friday, but allowed a solo home run in the sixth and one more run on a double and RBI single in the seventh in a 2-1 loss at Harrisburg. In four starts in 2017, Howard is now 0-2 with a 2.55 ERA in 17.2 innings. He has limited opponents to a .185 batting average and has 15 strikeouts. The Yard Goats are 10-17 and 7.5 games back of first place Trenton (NYY) in the Eastern Division of the Eastern League.
CONNOR JUSTUS — Inland Empire 66ers - Class A Advanced - California League - Los Angeles Angels affiliate (2nd year pro; SS; Georgia Tech; Cartersville HS). . . Justus was 6-for-17 in seven games last week at home against Lancaster and on the road at Rancho Cucamonga. Justus hit a two-run homer last Wednesday at home in a 4-3 come-from-behind win over Lancaster. His first home run of the year tied the game 3-3 and the 66ers added another run later in the inning for a walk-off victory. After a slow start at the plate, Justus has now hit safely in four of his last five games and has lifted his batting average to .200 with nine RBIs, five doubles, and three stolen bases. Defensively, he has a .961 fielding percentage in 102 chances and has been part of 19 double plays. Inland Empire has a 14-17 record and is in second place in the California League’s South Division. The 66ers are 2 games back of first-place Rancho Cucamonga (LAD).
ELLIOTT ANDERSON — Auburn University (Freshman, LHP, Cartersville HS). . . made a ninth inning appearance Sunday against Alabama in an 11-9 15-inning home loss. Anderson walked a batter and struck out one facing three Tide hitters. He has made nine appearances (9.1 innings) and is 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA. Auburn (32-17, 14-10 SEC) plays at UAB Tuesday and at LSU for a three-game SEC series this weekend, starting Friday night.
TY FOWLER — Tennessee Wesleyan College (Senior, RHP, Cartersville HS). . . started the Appalachian Athletic Conference Tournament championship game and went 4.1 innings Sunday in Kingsport, Tennessee. Fowler received no decision, but NAIA 10th-ranked TWC went on to win the conference title game 4-1 over Truett-McConnell College. Fowler allowed one earned run on four hits and four walks. He also worked the final two innings last Wednesday in the Bulldogs’ 13-6 tournament opening win over Bluefield College (VA). He allowed four, unearned runs, on five hits, a walk, and two strikeouts. Tennessee Wesleyan (39-18) won its third consecutive AAC championship and 10th in 11 years. The Bulldogs earned an automatic berth to the NAIA National Championship Opening Round, which begins on Monday, May 15. The full 45-team field, pairings, and sites will be announced on Thursday.
MICHAEL GOSS — UNC-Greensboro (Senior, 1B, Cartersville HS). . . went 3-for-5 Sunday with his sixth home run of the season in an 8-5 win at VMI. He was also 2-for-7 with a walk and was hit by a pitch in the first two games of the series, both UNCG losses. Goss has a .333 batting average in 150 official at bats this season in 42 games. He has 18 extra base hits (.547 SLG%) and 40 RBIs. The Spartans (28-18, 11-7 Southern Conference) host The Citadel for three conference games this weekend.
BRADLEY HOOD — Georgia Highlands College (Sophomore, RHP, Cass HS). . . made a sixth inning appearance Saturday in the second game of a doubleheader at West Georgia Tech and was tagged with a loss. He retired one batter, but allowed a home run that was the difference in a 7-6 game. Hood has made nine appearances for 12.1 innings and a 1.46 ERA with 14 strikeouts. The Chargers (37-19, 14-10 GCAA) host the Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association tournament that begins Wednesday afternoon at LakePoint Sports in Emerson. GHC received a first round bye and will play the ABAC-Gordon State winner on Thursday in the double-elimination tournament.
SEAN McDERMOTT — Cleveland State CC (Sophomore, 1B, Adairsville HS). . . committed to Mercer for the next two seasons, McDermott and the Cougars open the TCCAA playoffs Monday night at home against Volunteer State CC. McDermott is hitting .371 with eight homers and 35 RBIs through 44 games. Cleveland State is 33-16 overall and 13-14 in conference play. The Cougars are the No. 4 seed in the tournament.
JO JO UNDERWOOD — UNC-Greensboro (Senior, C/3B, Cartersville HS). . . made a pair of appearances this past week at Elon and at VMI with four putouts. He also drew one walk at the plate and is currently hitting .250 in 14 games for the Spartans. He has two homers and six RBIs in 36 official at bats. UNCG (28-18, 11-7 Southern Conference) host The Citadel for three conference games this weekend.
CHAZ WILSON — Columbus State Universtiy (Senior, RHP, Cass HS). . . The Cougars play in the Peach Belt Conference Championship Tournament this week in Florence, SC and will be the No. 4 seed. Wilson graduated last week with a degree in Accounting and a 3.96 GPA. He has made only six appearances this season, but has a 1.93 ERA with four strikeouts and four walks in 4.2 innings. He has accumulated 66 innings pitched with 45 strikeouts in a four-year career at Union University and Columbus State. CSU (29-19, 15-9 PBC) plays UNC-Pembroke in the first round of the double-elimination conference tournament Wednesday night.
BETHANY BALLARD — Armstrong State University (Senior, C/1B, Cass HS). . . the Lady Pirates will host an NCAA D2 Southeast Region starting Thursday in Savannah. In limited playing time, Ballard is hitting .333 with one RBI. The Pirates open the four-team regional tournament against Peach Belt Conference foe Young Harris College.
TAYLOR BRASELTON — Reinhardt University (Senior, SS, Woodland HS). . . received the 2017 Appalachian Athletic Conference Player of the Year award after leading Reinhardt in hits and batting average. She ranks in the top 35 nationally in 13 difference statistical categories. Braselton has a .458 batting average with 31 RBIs this season in 56 games and has 32 stolen bases. She was also named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) District 1 Academic All-District team with a 3.76 GPA in Business Administration. The Lady Eagles (41-14-1) await their Opening Round assignment in the NAIA National Championship Tournament which begins May 15.
SYDNEY FLOWERS — Reinhardt University (Senior, UT, Woodland HS). . . hitting .205 with six RBIs in 44 official at bats and has played in 31 games for the Eagles this season. Reinhardt (41-14-1) awaits its Opening Round assignment in the NAIA National Championship Tournament which begins May 15.
CASSIDY HOWREN — Reinhardt University (Junior, C, Adairsville HS). . . batting .240 with eight RBIs in 129 at bats across 55 games for the Eagles. She has started 52 games. Reinhardt (41-14-1) awaits its Opening Round assignment in the NAIA National Championship Tournament which begins May 15.
HUNTER IRVIN — Reinhardt University (Sophomore, OF, Cartersville HS). . . in 17 appearances for the Lady Eagles, Irvin has a .250 batting average with a pair of doubles in 16 at bats. Reinhardt (41-14-1) awaits its Opening Round assignment in the NAIA National Championship Tournament which begins May 15.
TAYLOR WEEKS — Reinhardt University (Senior, OF, Adairsville HS). . . was named to the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) District 1 Academic All-District team for the second straight year. She was a 2016 CoSIDA First Team Academic All-America honoree. She was a First Team All-Appalachian Athletic Conference honoree this season with a .426 batting average over her last two seasons. Weeks has 30 RBIs this season and a .475 on base percentage. Academically, she has a 3.96 GPA while majoring in Early Childhood Education. The Lady Eagles (41-14-1) await their Opening Round assignment in the NAIA National Championship Tournament which begins May 15.
ANNALYN YANTIS — Samford University (Sophomore, P, Cartersville HS). . . the Bulldogs open play in the Southern Conference Championship Tournament Wednesday in Chattanooga. Yantis has made six appearances this season for Samford with an 8.08 ERA. The Lady Bulldogs (22-34) play Mercer in the SoCon tournament opening round.
TRACK AND FIELD
MILES BEARDEN -- Kansas State University (Senior, Cartersville resident, Darlington HS) . . .Bearden set an outdoor personal record and cleared 2.15 meters to win the high jump over the weekend at the Ward Haylett Invitational, but the Wildcat men were edged by in-state rival Kansas 54-50 in the dual meet.
BREE COLE — Jacksonville State University (Freshman, Cartersville HS). . . placed 14th with a time of 5:10.42 in the 1500M run Saturday at the University of Tennessee Challenge in Knoxville. Next for the Gamecocks is the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships. JSU will host this weekend in Oxford, AL.
ANNA HIGHTOWER — Georgia Tech (Sophomore, Cartersville HS). . . set a new career best in the pole vault with a mark of 3.81m at the Torrin Lawrence Memorial in Athens. It was the final meet before the Jackets host the ACC Outdoor Championships this weekend in Atlanta.
SAMANTHA PATTERSON — Jacksonville State University (Junior, Woodland HS). . . was third in the pole vault with a mark of 10’-6” Saturday at the University of Tennessee Challenge in Knoxville. Next for the Gamecocks is the Ohio Valley Conference Outdoor Championships. JSU will host this weekend in Oxford, AL.