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Athletes Beyond Bartow: Weekly review of local pro and collegiate performances

The Major League Baseball lockout came to an end last week enabling players to make their way to what will be an abbreviated spring training in 2022. Cartersville High product, Sam Howard, has joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in Bradenton, Florida and they will being Grapefruit League games this weekend. Meanwhile on the professional hardwoods, Cartersville native Ashton Hagans continues to be a major contributor for Raptors 905 of the NBA’s G League. His team is clinging to a narrow lead in the G League’s Eastern Conference with the regular season winding down.

Sam Howard and the Pittsburgh Pirates begin preparations for the 2022 MLB season while Ashton Hagans and Raptors 905 continue to lead the NBA G League's Eastern Conference standings.

On collegiate diamonds, former Cartersville high pitcher Hannah Todd had her best performances of the year picking up a pair of wins over the past week while a pair of baseball athletes made major contributions with their respective teams. Cass product, Steven Spell, hit .545 and scored seven runs over the weekend for Young Harris College as the Mountain Lions swept Augusta and former Cartersville Hurricane, Preston Welchel, hit .444 for the week with a pair of weekend home runs for Coastal Alabama-South.

L-R: Hannah Todd (University of Houston); Steven Spell (Young Harris College); and Preston Welchel (Coastal Alabama-South).

On the golf links Cartersville High graduate Chanc Willis fired off increasingly strong rounds, culminating in a two-under-par 70, to help Reinhardt win the Skyhawk Invitational by nine strokes.


ASHTON HAGANS — Raptors 905 NBA G League (Cartersville native; University of Kentucky; Newton HS) … After sitting out a 126-121 win last Thursday at College Park, Hagans returned to the starting lineup Saturday at Lakeland. Despite playing just 17 minutes, Hagans put together a solid line, finishing with seven points, three rebounds and three assists in a 112-109 victory. Raptors 905, an NBA Toronto Raptors affiliate, continues to lead the G League’s Eastern Conference with a 19-7 record. The team leads the Delaware Blue Coats and the Motor City Cruise by one game in the standings with just six regular season games remaining. Raptors 905 hosts the Fort Wayne Mad Ants Thursday afternoon in the team’s only game this week.


SAM HOWARD — Pittsburgh Pirates (9th-year pro; Georgia Southern; Cartersville HS) … with the MLB lockout coming to an end last week the Pirates have reported to an abbreviated Spring Training at their facility in Bradenton, Florida. The Pirates will play a revised 18-game Grapefruit League schedule that begins Friday at LECOM Park against the New York Yankees. The 29-year-old southpaw improved his strikeout rate to 12.0 per nine innings last season. His slider produced a .190 batting average against and a 40.8 percent strikeout rate. Howard allowed only 14.8 percent of inherited runners to score in 2021, which was fifth-best among NL relievers who had at least 25 inherited runners. Howard has appeared in 100 MLB games with 89 innings pitched. He has 111 career strikeouts at the Major League level and a 7-7 record.


BELLA CARNES — Georgia College (So., Woodland HS) … made a start at second base Sunday in a 6-4 loss to Young Harris College going 0-for-2 at the plate. The Bobcats (9-15, 1-5 Peach Belt Conference) play a doubleheader at Francis Marion University Tuesday and have a three-game series at Georgia Southwestern Friday and Saturday.

ANSLEY EVANS — Reinhardt University (Fr., Woodland HS) … the Eagles’ starter at third base went 2-for-4 with a double, two walks, one RBI, and one stolen base in Sunday’s doubleheader sweep of visiting St. Andrews University (North Carolina). In Monday’s doubleheader with Rio Grande (Ohio), Evans finished 2-for-5 with an RBI on a sacrifice fly. She also scored one run. Reinhardt (12-7, 4-0 Appalachian Athletic Conference) The Eagles travel to Columbia International Wednesday, host Truett McConnell Friday, and visit Brevard College Saturday.

LAUREN McELHANEY — University of West Georgia (So., Cartersville HS) … made a defensive appearance Sunday in the Wolves’ 8-6 win over Shorter. West Georgia (10-12, 4-7 Gulf South Conference) has a three-game conference series with Delta State Friday and Saturday.

HANNAH TODD — University of Houston (Grad Student, Cartersville HS) … had a 1.91 ERA and struck out eight in a pair of home pitching wins over Boise State and Northwestern State last Thursday and Friday. Todd scattered six hits and two walks Thursday while striking out three in a nine-inning, complete-game performance. The Cougars defeated the Broncos 6-2 in the bottom of the ninth on a walk-off grand slam. Friday she returned to the circle with a 5-and-2/3 inning start to strike out five in a 7-2 win over the Demons. Houston won four of five over the weekend moving past the .500 mark. The Cougars (13-12) will play Iowa, Indiana, San Diego, and Oklahoma Friday and Saturday at the Oklahoma City Hall of Fame Classic.

ALEXA VARNER — Shorter University (So., Adairsville HS) … played second base and went 1-for-2 at the plate with a stolen base in a doubleheader loss at West Georgia Sunday. Shorter (4-19, 1-10 Gulf South Conference) hosts a doubleheader with 16th-ranked North Georgia Wednesday and plays a three-game conference series at Valdosta State Saturday and Sunday.


MASON BARNETT — Auburn University (Jr., Cartersville HS) … worked 4-and-2/3 innings last Wednesday allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits with no walks as the Tigers beat Tennessee Tech 4-3 in Huntsville. Barnett struck out five and left the game trailing 1-0 before the Tigers rallied in the seventh and eighth innings for a win. Auburn (13-4) hosts Kennesaw State Tuesday night in a final tune-up before opening the SEC schedule with a three-game home series against 6th-ranked Ole Miss Thursday through Saturday.

MICAH EARWOOD — Georgia State University (Fr., Cartersville HS) … the right-hand pitcher made an eighth inning appearance Sunday allowing a double and a bunt single to the two batters he faced in a 13-10 loss to visiting Presbyterian College. The Panthers did, however, win two of three in the weekend series. Georgia State (10-6) plays at Clemson Tuesday night and will host Little Rock Friday through Sunday to begin Sun Belt Conference play.

JAKE GOOCH — Central Alabama CC (So., Cartersville HS) … went 5-for-13 at the plate with one walk, one RBI, and two runs scored but the Trojans dropped all four games last week in a home-and-home series with Shelton State CC. CACC (8-13, 0-4 Alabama Community College Conference) has a four-game, home-and-home series with Snead State CC Thursday and Saturday.

LOGAN MARTIN — Sewanee - University of the South (Jr., Cartersville HS) … struck out 12 in a seven inning start and 6-4 loss last Friday against Marietta College in a game played in Port Charlotte, Florida. The Tigers’ right-hander allowed six earned runs on six hits and three walks. He also hit two batters. Sewanee (2-13, 0-3 Southern Athletic Association) plays 4th-ranked North Central Tuesday in Port Charlotte before hosting Hendrix College Saturday and Sunday in a three-game conference series. MASON McBEE — Coastal Alabama South CC (Fr., Cartersville HS) … worked 3-and-2/3 innings of relief after entering in the fourth inning last Thursday in a 5-4 home loss to Wallace State-Dothan CC. The right-hander did not allow a run on two hits, no walks, and he struck out three. The Sun Chiefs (9-11-1, 2-2 AAAC) have a four-game, home-and-home conference series with Coastal Alabama-East CC Thursday and Saturday.

TREY SCOTT — Cleveland State CC (Fr., Cass HS) … made a one inning appearance last Wednesday as CSCC swept a doubleheader with BCA-Knoxville’s post-grad team. Scott allowed an earned run on one hit and two walks. He recorded one strikeout. The Cougars (15-7, 2-3 Tennessee Community College Athletic Association) play Georgia Highlands at LakePoint Tuesday and travel to Roane State for a three-game series Friday and Saturday.

STEVEN SPELL — Young Harris College (Jr., Cass HS) … the Mountain Lions’ third baseman went 6-for-11 with a double, three walks, and seven runs scored over the weekend as Young Harris swept a three-game series at Augusta University. YHC (16-5, 6-0 Peach Belt Conference) hosts Tusculum Tuesday and a three-game PBC series with Flagler Friday and Saturday.

PRESTON WELCHEL — Coastal Alabama South CC (So., Cartersville HS) … went 4-for-9 with two home runs, a double, four walks, five runs scored, and six RBIs as the Sun Chiefs split a four game series last week with Wallace State-Dothan CC. Coastal South (9-11-1, 2-2 ACCC) plays a four-game, home-and-home series Thursday and Saturday with Coastal Alabama-East.

COHEN WILBANKS — Georgia Gwinnett College (So., Cartersville HS) … hitting .427 in seven official at-bats so far this season, Wilbanks made an unsuccessful pinch hitting appearance March 8 in the Grizzlies’ 4-3 win at Brewton-Parker. Georgia Gwinnett (19-4) hosts Toccoa Falls College Friday, Faulkner (Alabama) Saturday, and 2nd-ranked Tennessee Wesleyan Saturday night.

DAVIS WILLIAMS — Birmingham-Southern College (Fr., Cartersville HS) … was saddled with a pitching loss Sunday when he surrendered a pair of earned runs on three hits and two walks in a 7-6 loss to Rhodes College in Memphis. BSC (12-4, 4-2 SAA) travels to the Pensacola Tournament Friday through Monday where they will face UW-Platteville, Grinnell College, and Carroll University.

JORDAN WILKIE — Augusta University (Jr., Cartersville HS) … finished last week 4-for-12 at the plate as the Jaguars beat Saint Rose but were swept in a three-game series with Young Harris. Wilkie drove in two runs with sacrifice flies and reached base two other times with a walk and hit by pitch.

ZACH WILSON — Penn State Greater Allegheny (So., Woodland HS) … went 0-for-5 with a walk and one run scored appearing in games last week against Mid Michigan CC and Spoon River CC. PSUGA (2-7) has home doubleheaders Saturday and Sunday against Clarion University and Point Park.


CHANC WILLIS — Reinhardt University (Fr., Cartersville) … Thanks in part to Willis' fifth-place overall showing, Reinhardt won the Skyhawk Invitational over host Point University and 14 other teams. Willis improved his score in each round, shooting 77-75-70 in the two-day event held March 7-8 at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain.


EMILY SURCEY — Arkansas State University (Fr., Cass HS) … Surcey cruised in her singles match, producing a 6-2, 6-1 victory on Line 2, in a 4-3 defeat to Southeast Missouri State last Wednesday at home. Surcey and Rebecca Brody fell by a 6-3 margin in Line 3 doubles action, but it didn't impact the outcome, as the Red Wolves dropped the other two matches to concede the doubles point. Arkansas State (4-7, 0-1 Sun Belt Conference) plays at Louisiana-Lafayette Saturday and at Louisiana-Monroe Sunday. Both are conference matches.


TREVOR KNOWLES — Albion College (Grad Student, Woodland HS) … registered a pair of top-five individual finishes and helped the Britons to a runner-up showing in a relay event this past weekend at the Myrtle Beach Collegiate Challenge. The former Wildcat came in fourth in the triple jump (13.31 meters) and fifth in the long jump (6.84 meters). Albion's 4x100 relay wound up second with a time of 43.5 seconds, as Knowles ran the first leg. He also placed 24th in the 100-meter dash prelims. Next for Albion is the Robert H, Johnson Invitational in Crawfordsville, Indiana March 26.

-- Nicholas Sullivan of The Daily Tribune News contributed to this report.


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