WEST TERRE HAUTE —
As I’ve stated in this space before, I don’t like change.
Somehow I’ve learned to use the Internet, Facebook and a cell phone over the last 15 years, but most changes I try to avoid because I tend to think the old-school way of doing things is better.
OK, who stole my typewriter? I want it back now!
Seriously, we’re all forced to make adjustments when society and life situations evolve.
On that note, West Vigo High School senior Alicyn Woodward makes adjustments about as well as anybody I’ve met recently.
Two years ago, for example, Woodward batted right-handed for the Vikings’ softball team. But in the summer of 2009, she was convinced that she would hit more effectively as a lefty.
So she moved to the other side of the batter’s box and her 2011 offensive statistics indicate it was the correct decision.
“I was a power hitter right-handed,” Woodward explained. “But when I switched travel teams to the one I’m on now [in the summer], they told me that with my speed, I should be left-handed and I’d be quicker out of the box.”
Before West Vigo’s game at North Vermillion on Friday, Woodward owned a .554 batting average with 24 runs scored and 28 stolen bases this season.
Usually occupying the lead-off spot in the Vikings’ lineup, she posted at least three hits in five of their first 16 games, including a 3-for-3 performance in a loss to Terre Haute South last week.
“Before my junior year, I played around with [batting left-handed] but didn’t really think I’d ever switch,” Woodward recalled. “I like it now.”
“She’s fast,” West Vigo coach Cherish Easton said as she started to rattle off Woodward’s attributes on offense. “She can put the ball in play. She’s smart. She knows the game. She has experience with the game. She’d do anything to help the team. If I needed her at catcher, she’d get back there at catcher and she’d do a good job.”
Beating out bunts has become one of Woodward’s trademarks since she transformed into a lefty. That’s probably because she lays the ball down with pinpoint accuracy and — as Easton mentioned — she runs fast for a high school girl.
South coach Steve Woerner thinks she is one of the best high school bunters he’s seen in recent years.
“There are a couple good bunters who play for Ben Davis in the MIC [Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference],” he noted, “but Alicyn and Haley Chambers up there at Riverton Parke are the two best I’ve seen.”
Easton described Woodward as a triple-threat hitter.
“She can bunt, she can slap and she can hit,” Easton said. “A lot of teams aren’t quite sure where to play her [defensively] because if they move in one direction, she’s going to do something else and still get on base.”
Back to the subject of “change,” Woodward showed her commitment to the team by going from a full-time center fielder to serving as West Vigo’s No. 1 pitcher in 2011, even though she hadn’t pitched regularly since doing it for a 14-and-under summer team a few years ago.
“I’m definitely not the best pitcher,” she admitted with a chuckle. “I love pitching. It’s fun. I like to be in control of the game the whole game. I’m not the best, but I work at it.”
Woodward still excels as a center fielder when she’s not pitching. In fact, that’s what she’ll do when she goes to Olney Central College to play next season.
“I never have any doubts with Woody in the outfield,” Easton emphasized. “She’s quick. She’s not afraid to dive after the ball. She has a good arm. I love to see when runners want to test her and she gets them out.”
Woodward chose Olney Central for a variety of reasons.
“I like Nick Short as a coach and I like how he sets up everything,” she mentioned. “I liked the school when I went there [for a visit] and it’s not that far from home.”
“I definitely think she can be a significant college player,” Easton added. “She’s going to turn some heads. She’s going to be a key player for Olney.”
But for now, Woodward is focused on getting West Vigo turned around from a 6-10 start (1-2 in the Western Indiana Conference).
“It does get frustrating,” she said about losing so often. “It’s real frustrating when we have the game on the line and we know we can win or we’re ahead and we make silly, mental errors and physical errors. That puts us behind, then we lose all focus and we’re out of the game.”
Easton said Woodward has remained a positive influence on the team, despite her frustration with losing.
“Alicyn has a really good mental game,” the Vikings’ coach noted. “So she sets a good example for the other players.”
Asked about the team’s goals for the rest of the season, Woodward didn’t hesitate to answer.
“We hope to win conference and win as many games as we can from here on out,” she stressed.
For Woodward and the rest of the Vikings, that would be the most fun change of all.
David Hughes can be reached after 4 p.m. by phone at 1-800-783-8742, Option 4, or at (812) 231-4224; by e-mail at email@example.com; or by fax at (812) 231-4321.
WEST TERRE HAUTE —
As I’ve stated in this space before, I don’t like change.
- Hughes News & Views
Hughes, News & Views: Shaw preparing for 20th season as Rose-Hulman coach
When Rose-Hulman men’s basketball coach Jim Shaw gets introduced to the Hulman Center crowd before Sunday afternoon’s exhibition game against Indiana State, think of the old saying “time flies when you’re having fun.”
Hughes, News & Views: Friends remember Jim Bogle
When I covered the semifinal round of the IHSAA boys tennis sectional at Terre Haute North last week, it seemed like there was an empty seat in the bleachers.
In reality, I noticed few — if any — empty seats because plenty of spectators wanted to watch the host Patriots battle No. 14-ranked Terre Haute South for the right to advance to the next day’s sectional championship match.
In the end, junior Nathan Bogle pulled out a dramatic three-set victory at No. 1 singles to help South edge its crosstown rivals 3-2 on its way to capturing the sectional title.
Yet there was something missing.
The person who would have been in that empty seat I imagined, Nathan’s father Jim Bogle, had been battling cancer for close to two years and could not attend the sectional.
Sadly, cancer claimed his life Thursday morning. He was 52.
Hughes, News & Views: Doug Shouse going into ASU Hall of Honor
One thing you can say about members of Terre Haute’s Shouse family: They never have had a problem with running and jumping.
At least not until knee problems hit.
An outstanding athlete since the days I played pick-up basketball games with him and his brothers in the Terre Haute Boys Club and Indiana State University Arena gyms in the mid to late 1970s, a young Doug Shouse knew how to turn heads with his dunks and athletic fast-break moves against college guys and mediocre players like me.
Hughes, News & Views: Oden picks Miami Heat for site of comeback
At 7 feet tall, former Terre Haute resident Greg Oden stands out in almost any crowd.
So to persuade the increasingly healthy Oden to play during the 2013-14 NBA season — for the first time since Dec. 5, 2009 — a team needed to offer something unique to stand out.
Like, say, a chance at a ring.
Enter the Miami Heat, who have won the last two NBA championships behind the “Big Three” of four-time NBA Most Valuable Player LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Hughes, News & Views: Gladiator Games are back Saturday
When I talk to my old weightlifting buddies around the country on the phone, through texts or on Facebook, we frequently reminisce about “the good ol’ days.”
Imagine that — guys over 50 living in the past.
Anyway, I recently discussed with Jim McCarty — who now lives in Daytona Beach, Fla. — about a “Terre Haute’s Strongest Man” contest he organized in the mid-1980s inside the National Guard Armory on Maple Avenue.
Hughes, News & Views: Lure of big payoffs fuels columnist's fantasy football addiction
Gather around, my friends. I think I may need an intervention.
After winning the championship game of our Tribune-Star newsroom free fantasy football league in 2003 — the first time I ever participated in the popular hobby — I became hooked on dominating as many leagues as possible.
Hughes, News & Views: Terre Haute ‘hacker' accomplishes Mark’s Par Three first
It’s no secret that Mark’s Par Three is not the most difficult golf course in Vigo County.
But it’s enjoyable for beginners and golfers of modest skill levels and it doesn’t lack for activity during warm-weather months.
Open since 1964, it’s had its fair share of players test their skills, probably several better than 43-year-old Brian Brown of Terre Haute.
Hughes, News & Views: Pacers, 500, NFL on mind of curious columnist
One previous time, I believe, my annual May questions column ran one day late into June.
Can you forgive me for this being the second time?
With apologies out of the way, below are questions that have been taking up valuable space in my head lately.
Some are serious, some not so much. Most are sports-related, but don’t blame me if a few are not. After all, newspaper sportswriters don’t eat, sleep and breathe sports 24/7 (contrary to what my Lisa might tell you).
Here we go:
• How funny will the reaction of the national media be when the Indiana Pacers knock off the unbeatable Miami Heat tonight and Monday to take the series and head to an NBA Finals showdown with the San Antonio Spurs? Hint: Several ESPN “experts” will need to change their underwear next week.
Hughes, News & Views: Terre Haute runner sets up race to help Boston
Having competed in the Boston Marathon once before in 2003, 35-year-old Majel Wells of Terre Haute thought she should give it another try in 2013.
“My goal was just to finish and enjoy Boston,” she reflected this week. “I had an injury [runner’s knee] beforehand, so I wasn’t too worried about beating my time from 2003 [4 hours, 10.20 seconds].
“But nobody cares about what your time is at Boston anyway.”
From what I’ve heard over the years, she’s right. Unless you’re a super-serious runner, the Boston Marathon has been more about taking in the atmosphere and having fun than placing in the top 50, although Wells was pleased that she beat her previous time by finishing in 3:55.19 on April 15.
Obviously, her race time wasn’t the most vivid memory that Wells took away from her 2013 Boston experience.
Hughes, News & Views: Former South players to play in Saylor benefit game
I had my first phone conversation with Mike Saylor since mid-February on Thursday and he sounded good.
The former Terre Haute South High School boys basketball coach, who’s been battling cancer this year, has been traveling back and forth to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston for chemotherapy treatments.
Recent South swimmers Roach, Bray heading to DI nationals
I’m sure most of you with office jobs can relate.
When work gets busy, sometimes it’s easy to skim over our emails. After all, how many times do we need to read the same nonsense from alleged Nigerians wanting to make us rich if we’ll send them several thousand dollars first?
So after having three consecutive days off, that almost happened to me when I returned to work Tuesday. Then I realized that the message from Jeff Thompson, Terre Haute South High School’s boys and girls swimming coach, contained significant news.
NCAA Division III basketball tournament returns to Rose-Hulman
The last time Rose-Hulman served as host for the NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament, its game was played inside an old World War II airplane hangar.
You “old-timers” should know the building I’m talking about and the matchup wasn’t really that long ago — March 6, 1997, to be exact.
DAVID HUGHES: Childhood friends use faith, sports to get them through
When I learned in February 2009 that a rare form of appendix cancer would devastate my life and cause me to miss work for several months, Mike Saylor was among the first to offer assistance.
Book review: Thumbs up for ‘Trophies and Tears’
Now might be too late for giving Christmas presents, but the book “Trophies and Tears: The Story of Evansville and the Aces” is a fascinating read for longtime Indiana basketball fans, particularly those older than 40.
Written by award-winning Kyle Keiderling of Henderson, Nev., and released in hardcover format in mid-December, the 480-page “Trophies and Tears” documents the rich tradition of the University of Evansville men’s basketball program through recent interviews and research of old yearbooks and newspaper/scrapbook clippings.
The book contains many cheery moments — behind-the-scenes details of all five NCAA College Division (now known as Division II) championships won in the 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s by the Purple Aces and their legendary coach Arad McCutchan — although some of those moments don’t seem so cheery from an Indiana State perspective when the Sycamores found themselves on the losing end of scores.
Hughes, News & Views: Wishing for Colts-Broncos playoff matchup from Santa
There’s plenty of tragedy in the world to bring us down if we let it, so let’s have a light-hearted column today — my annual Christmas gift requests for Santa Claus.
I already know one of my gift wishes is becoming less likely to happen. That would be for the Indianapolis Colts to face the Denver Broncos in the AFC playoffs.
Colts' loyalty tested by Manning, Broncos
We’re approaching the halfway point of the NFL season and so far it’s been surprisingly enjoyable.
I wasn’t sure how I would handle following two favorite teams — 1a.) the Indianapolis Colts and 1b.) Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos — but the new arrangement hasn’t caused me any loyalty conflicts yet.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Sorting out the sports air waves
My name isn’t attached to them, but I’m the one who usually puts together the “Sports on the air” television/radio listings that appear daily on this newspaper’s Scoreboard Page.
Hughes, News & Views: North junior ready to go racing
When we last visited 16-year-old Rachel Gutish, she was finishing sixth in the Women’s Enduro X race in the nationally televised Summer X Games at Los Angeles.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Yelovich still striking the ball long on LDA Tour
In June 2011, I wrote a feature story about former Indiana State basketball center Mick Yelovich making a name for himself as a golfer on the Long Drivers Association (LDA) Tour.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Colts? Broncos? Maybe there’s more than enough room for both
I’ve got a longtime buddy who I’m fairly sure rarely, if ever, reads this column.
HUGHES NEWS & VIEWS: Point of Jones’ return
Since May 14, Indiana high school basketball fans have wondered why Jim Jones would want to come out of retirement at 74.
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Phones are ringing less frequently in the Tribune-Star sports department this week.
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If Kylie Hutson were a cross-country runner, she’d be approaching the final stretch of her biggest race in about three weeks.
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Bryan Egli and Joe Puthoff, both Rose-Hulman basketball starters I covered in the late 1990s, took their degrees from the prestigious engineering institute and found successful careers in the Indianapolis area.
Egli, also a former West Vigo High School multi-sport standout, lives in Carmel and works for Thieneman Construction in Westfield. Puthoff lives in Indy and works for Rolls Royce Aircraft Engines.
DAVID HUGHES: Super Bowl odds getting stranger and stranger
Today’s annual “Super Bowl odds column” feels special to me because I’ve been a diehard NFL fan since 1967 and next Sunday will be the first time the big game takes place in our great state of Indiana.
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Almost 10 years ago, February 2002 to be exact, the New England Patriots upset the high-powered St. Louis Rams to win Super Bowl XXXVI in New Orleans, the Winter Olympics entertained spectators in Salt Lake City and Terre Haute South High School’s girls basketball team started its tournament run toward a Class 4A state title.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Plenty of sports-related gifts for columnist's wish list
Last week, I was all set to beg Santa Claus to give the Indianapolis Colts a certificate good for one NFL regular-season victory.
Then the 2011 Colts decided to play like the 2009 Colts and clobber the Tennessee Titans on Sunday for their first win of the season. So that present won’t be necessary.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: WTHI defends decision not to show Colts
When your favorite NFL team is threatening to finish 0-16, you have to figure a few fans will jump off the bandwagon.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Former South coach Rady makes it look easy
Jack Butcher, Howard Sharpe and Bill Stearman.
HUGHES NEWS AND VIEWS: Wheldon's genuine personality a devastating loss to racing
Lori Wood, the Tribune-Star’s Indianapolis 500 correspondent since 2000, planned to visit a friend in California and take in the IndyCar Las Vegas 300 as a ticket-buying fan last weekend.
- More Hughes News & Views Headlines
- Hughes, News & Views: Shaw preparing for 20th season as Rose-Hulman coach