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Piedmont soccer gets senior night victory

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Piedmont’s nine-man senior class had a big game Friday night in the final home game of their careers.

Seniors Thomas Spencer and Freddy Lopez each scored goals, Chad Weemhoff was solid in goal and Quent Wheeler and Jake Loper played stellar defense in Piedmont’s 2-1 win over Duncan.

Blake Colston/Gazette Dax Hampton tries to control the ball from a Duncan player on Friday.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Dax Hampton tries to control the ball from a Duncan player on Friday.

“This game kind of showed what we’ve been looking for four years here,” head coach Zac Selph said. “Even when things went against us, even though our typical starters weren’t in the game, there was never a complaint. Everyone was cheering for everyone. It’s what we’ve been working towards.”

Lopez, who doesn’t normally start, got the call in his final home game and delivered Piedmont’s first goal of the night with 30:06 to play in the first half. It was just Lopez’ second goal of the season and his career.

“That could be the best shot he’s ever had in a game,” Selph said. “It was a nice shot. Very, very, happy for him.”

Spencer provided what proved to be the game-winner on a penalty kick at the 34:38 mark of the second half. It was Spencer’s ninth goal of the season and the 26th of his illustrious career.

“He got in the box and for one reason or another they called the PK and that was that,” Selph said. “Nice to see Thomas go out on a high note.” Read more →

Harley Allen Miller

Miller-obit-picHarley Allen Miller, 75, of Oklahoma City OK, was welcomed into the arms of his Savior on April 24, 2015, following a lengthy hospitalization. Born September 30, 1939, “Allen”, son of Harley and Helen Miller of Stillwater, OK, is survived by his wife, of the home, Michaela (Mickey), daughter Rene Marie Craig and husband Earl, along with their sons Jerod, Dillon, Kevin and Trevor of Cashion, son Todd Emerson Miller and wife Michelle Lynn, along with their sons Harley and Jackson of Cashion. He is also survived by his step children, son Rob Witmer of Arvada Colorado, Shelly Jones and husband Lynn and their daughters, Katie and Nicole of Yukon and Patrick Harris and wife Tami and daughters Madison, Rylee and Teagan of Indian Lands South Carolina. He also has surviving brothers O.D. Miller and Jack Miller and sisters Sara Brooks and Bonita Petty. He was preceded in death by his parents, as well as one beloved son, Brett Allen Miller, previously of Oklahoma City.

Harley spent decades working for the U.S. Postal Service, retiring from his last position in Cashion Oklahoma. He enjoyed traveling with Mickey, having recently enjoyed trips to Alaska and the Panama Canal as well as time spent with and at various activities that included his church and Sunday School classmates.

Memorial services will be conducted at New Hope Methodist Church, 11600 N. Council Road, Oklahoma City, OK on Tuesday, April 28th at 11:00 AM, with a private family ceremony for interment at a later date.

Piedmont baseball drops two at Edmond Classic

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

EDMOND — Piedmont hit into a season-high four double plays and stranded six runners in a 4-1 loss to 6A Edmond Santa Fe in the opener of the Edmond Classic Thursday at Edmond Santa Fe High School.

Piedmont managed nine hits off Wolves’ starter Cameron Kay, who lasted 6 2/3 innings, but seemingly each time a ‘Cats rally began, they rolled into a twin-killing that ended the threat.

“Those were inning killers,” PHS head coach Kory Williams said. “You’d get a lead off hitter on and we’d barrel a ball up and it’d go right at them. Credit them, they made the plays.”

Blake Colston/Gazette Piedmont starting pitcher delivers a pitch in Thursday's game against Edmond Santa Fe.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Piedmont starting pitcher delivers a pitch in Thursday’s game against Edmond Santa Fe.

Piedmont had its lead off batter reach base in the first and second innings only to be erased by a double play, and had a sixth-inning rally ended by another.

Santa Fe scored in the bottom of the first off starting pitcher J.J. Rogers when a Piedmont throwing error allowed runners from second and third to cross home with two outs. A passed ball and a sacrifice fly from Garrett Russell in the third gave the Wolves a 4-0 lead.

“The first inning killed us,” Williams said. “You take it away and we feel like we’re right there.” Read more →

Hardy closing junior season with a bang

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

This time of year, bump, set and spike are replaced by drive, chip and putt for Piedmont junior Kasidi Hardy.

A key cog on the Lady Wildcats volleyball team, Hardy picked up golf as a freshman despite having never played competitively before.  She’d played before with her dad, Brock, along with her uncle Joel Heath and cousin Jobi Heath, who plays at Edmond Santa Fe. But Hardy wanted more than just a casual round with family.

“I like a challenge,” she said. “I’m really tough on myself mentally, so it challenged me to keep from getting upset when things don’t go right.”

Hardy likes the change from playing a team sport like volleyball to playing golf, which is mostly individual.

Kayla McKinney, left, and Kasidi Hardy pose for a picture at Lake Hefner Golf Course in Oklahoma City.

Kayla McKinney, left, and Kasidi Hardy pose for a picture at Lake Hefner Golf Course in Oklahoma City.

“I like how I’m basically competing against myself,” she said. “But in the end you end up competing against everyone else, too.”

Hardy enjoys working on her game and has improved steadily since her freshman season thanks to a strong work ethic and an even-keeled demeanor.

“She has a nice even-tempo swing, but the main thing is she comes out and practices every day and tries to get better,” Piedmont head coach Jamie Hill said. “She’s very coachable, listens to what I have to say and has a good temperament for golf. Golf is not a primary sport for her, so it’s impressive to me to see how much she’s improved over her three years.”

Hardy, who was in Piedmont’s top five last year when the Lady ‘Cats qualified for state as a team, shot a career-best 90 at the Suburban Conference Tournament on Monday. It’s a score that would likely be good enough to make Hardy an individual qualifier for the 5A state tournament at Scissortail Golf Club in Claremore, if she can shoot the same score or better at regionals at Crimson Creek in El Reno next week.

A big part of Hardy’s 90 at conference that followed a 91 at trosper a week earlier, as well as her chance at making state, revolves around her strong short game. Something that can be a struggle for some high school players is a strength for Hardy.

“She has a really good feel for her short game,” Hill said. “She saves a lot of strokes on holes by hitting mid-range putts. I would definitely say that’s her biggest advantage.”

Replicating the success she’s had through the final weeks of the season is all about consistency, Hardy said – especially off the tee.

“That’s what’s going to get me there,” she said. “I have to be consistent with everything I do, not just my short game.”

McKinney aiming for state, too

Kayla McKinney, like Hardy, is a junior on this year’s team and has as much experience as any golfer in Piedmont’s lineup, making her of the most veteran members of the Lady ‘Cats team.

She was introduced to golf with her dad, Dale, and grandpa, Jim Curry. The trio played on holidays or whenever time allowed, and McKinney quickly grew to enjoy the game.

Despite the early introduction to golf, when she got to high school, McKinney played basketball and wasn’t completely committed to golf.

“A little bit of both,” she said. “I was playing basketball at the time, so I wasn’t really sure if I wanted to be serious about golf.”

A knee injury during McKinney’s sophomore season on the basketball court changed her outlook, though. McKinney gave up hoops and dedicated herself to golf, and this season the results have showed.

“During my freshman season my mind always got in my way,” she said. “I’ve really gotten control of that now and that’s made me a better player.”

Piedmont’s best ball-striker, when McKinney is playing well she drives the ball as well as anyone.

“Kayla can hit the ball. She can really smack it,” Hill said. “When she’s on, she’s very accurate, straight and long. She can out-drive most people she plays with.”

She fired a 92 at Trosper two weeks ago and made the highlight of her season and career, according to her, by draining a 40-foot, uphill birdie putt during the round.

“It was part of the best round I’ve ever played, too. It was awesome,” she said of the low-round of her career.

It gave McKinney, who considers her short game the weakest part of her arsenal right now, a jolt of confidence.

“Kayla is a quiet one, but she loves golf and she’s quietly very competitive,” Hill said. “She wants to do well and knows that she can.”

With regionals on the horizon, McKinney appears to be playing her best golf right now. Hill said if McKinney can replicate the low 90s rounds she’s shot recently, qualifying for the state tournament is within her grasp.

The key to doing that, McKinney said, is making putts and playing within herself.

“I need to keep my cool and hit good chips and putts,” she said.

Link has career path set after high school

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Golf has been Piedmont senior Brandon Link’s job for the past few years, but soon a different job will give him the opportunity to play golf around the world as a hobby.

Link, Piedmont golf’s No.2 bag this season, works at Lake Hefner Golf Course – also Piedmont’s practice course – on the weekends.

In July, Link will leave his job at Hefner to officially join the United States Navy as a Master of Arms. He’ll travel to Chicago for two months, then on to San Antonio, and after that, who knows, he said.Brandon Link

“I just loved everything about it,” he said of the career path. “Free travel, free schooling and I get to go see amazing things and do awesome stuff and get paid to do it.”

It’s a selfless calling that each of Link’s teammates and coaches respect and admire Link for choosing.

“We’re all real proud of him for that,” head coach Erik Ford said. “He’s just an outstanding kid that works hard and will be successful.” Read more →

McDermott leads Piedmont past Shawnee

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Led by a 3-for-3 day with two RBIs from sophomore catcher Bryce McDermott, Piedmont (13-10) upended Shawnee, 9-7, Tuesday afternoon in Piedmont.

PHS scored five times in the fifth inning and held off a late Wolves’ rally to earn the win. Trailing 4-0 after a half inning, Piedmont rallied to tie the game at four in the bottom of the first.

A single and two walks loaded the bases with no outs, then McDermott slammed a single to right to play the Wildcats first run. After an error allowed Piedmont’s second run to score, J.J. Rogers singled to center to score Noah Ellis and Tyler Rother to tie the score.

Gazette File Photo Bryce McDermott went 3-for-3 with two RBIs on Tuesday.

Gazette File Photo
Bryce McDermott went 3-for-3 with two RBIs on Tuesday.

Trailing 5-4 into the bottom of the fifth, McDermott and Easton Fenton singled to start a rally. A Shawnee error on a sacrifice attempt from Rogers loaded the bases with no outs and Brayden Nelson followed with a single to tie the score. Marshall Wallace gave Piedmont the lead with a sacrifice fly to right.

Jake Kisling continued the onslaught with a single to right score the Wildcats’ seventh run.

Nelson earned the win by pitching three innings of relief of starter Trevin Michael while striking out five, scattering four hits and allowing two runs, both earned.

It was Piedmont’s fifth win in six tries and snapped a seven-game win streak for Shawnee, which dropped to 22-5 with the loss.

Piedmont opens the Edmond Classic Thursday against Stillwater at 1 p.m.

Piedmont tennis plays at Suburban Conference Tournament

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

OKLAHOMA CITY — Piedmont’s girls and boys tennis teams took part in the Suburban Conference Tennis Tournament Monday at the Oklahoma Tennis Center at Will Rogers Park.

Leading the way for PHS was the boys No. 1 doubles team of Levi Coleman and Jordan Jenkins. The duo edged Guthrie for third place with a 6-2, 4-6, 10-7 (third set tiebreaker) victory in the consolation finals to capture third.

“I’m kind of upset honestly, because I didn’t think we played very well,” Jenkins, a junior said. “But came through at the end there which was good.”

Playing together for the first time this season, Jenkins and Coleman came through in a third set that was shortened to a first-to-1o points format. Initially, neither player was happy about the decision, but made the best of it in the decisive set.

Blake Colston/Gazette} Jordan Jenkins returns a shot at the net during a doubles match at the Suburban Conference Tournament Monday in Oklahoma City.

Blake Colston/Gazette}
Jordan Jenkins returns a shot at the net during a doubles match at the Suburban Conference Tournament Monday in Oklahoma City.

“We knew we had to be aggressive and not play tentative,” Jenkins said.

With three regular season tournaments remaining before regionals and state, the Jenkins-Coleman combination is expected to stay together into the postseason. Read more →

Hardy 3rd, Hasley 6th at Suburban Conference Golf Tournament

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

EL RENO — Kasidi Hardy continued to play the best golf of her career Monday at the Suburban Conference Golf Tournament at El Reno’s Crimson Creek.

The junior fired the low round of her career — a 90 — in breezy conditions to place third overall.

“Kasidi has really worked hard to improve in all areas of her game and she’s starting to show the consistency indicative of a more experienced upper-classmen,” Piedmont head coach Jamie Hill said. “Today she struck the ball well, had a good feel for the greens, limited errors and put together a solid overall round.”

Photo by Jamie Hill Piedmont's Dustin Hasley and Kasidi Hardy pose with their medals after Monday's Suburban Conference Golf Tournament in El Reno.

Photo by Jamie Hill
Piedmont’s Dustin Hasley and Kasidi Hardy pose with their medals after Monday’s Suburban Conference Golf Tournament in El Reno.

Hardy, who shot a then career-best 91 at Trosper last week, will likely be in contention to qualify for state as an individual at regionals at Crimson Creek April 28 if she can continue her current pace.

“If she plays like this again next week, I’m confident she’ll qualify for state,” Hill said.

Kayla McKinney fired an 18-over-par 90 to finish 12th. Freshman Brooke Chapman shot a 126. Read more →

Esparza a physical presence for Piedmont

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

Vanessa Esparza does the dirty work for Piedmont soccer.

Which season is to win 50-50 balls, play physical defense on the opposition’s best offensive players and keep the other team out of Piedmont’s end of the field. It’s a role that Esparza has embraced.

“I really like it, because I like knocking people down,” she said.

Embracing that style of play hasn’t always come naturally for the soft-spoken senior, though. A gymnast by trade from a young age, Esparza never thought of herself as overly physical and she hadn’t even touched a soccer ball until her freshman season at PHS.

“I figured out I was really strong,” she said. “I didn’t really even know that until I started playing soccer.”

Blake Colston/Gazette Vanessa Esparza plays defense on a Santa Fe South player earlier this season.

Blake Colston/Gazette
Vanessa Esparza plays defense on a Santa Fe South player earlier this season.

Her first two seasons of competitive soccer as a freshman at Piedmont were full of transition . Initially a forward, PHS head coach Brad Brucker moved Esparza into a defensive role as a junior because her personality and power fit the position.  After switching between forward and defense for a few games, Esparza was set as a defender early last season.

“Vanessa is our most physically imposing and strongest kid,” Brucker said. “As strong as she is physically, she’s stronger willed. What I love is she’s a fighter, and what I hate is that she’s a fighter.”

Esparza struggled to accept what Brucker asked her to do at times last season. The pair clashed at times during the preseason over her role. Brucker hoped she’d become an every-game starter for the Lady Wildcats, but wasn’t sure it would happen. With the season in full-gear now and Piedmont off to a sizzling 10-1 start, Esparza has become one of Piedmont’s most reliable defenders.

“She’s really turned a corner,” he said. “Every kid has a role to play and she finally understands her role and she’s fulfilling it and is comfortable in it, which is great. I’m really proud of her for doing that.”

Esparza provides a physical presence on the back end of the field for Piedmont, on a team that otherwise lacks physicality.

“Her strongest suit is just how tough she is, and that’s something our team really needs,” Brucker said. “Because 80 percent of this team isn’t physical by nature, but Vanessa is.”

Esparza keeps things even for the ‘Cats’ top goal scorers like Kylie Pyle, Bianca Cardenas and Caren Hidalgo. If the other team plays physically with them, Esparza is happy to return the favor on the other end.

“When (Vanessa) is willing to do that, it makes other kids want to fight for her,” Brucker said. “They know she has their back. They all know if someone gets smacked, Vanessa is coming.”

With difficult games still to come, Esparza’s most important soccer of her career is still ahead of her.

“Those teams are going to be physical with you, and you have to give that back in return,” Brucker said.

Michael pitches Piedmont to 3rd place at Piedmont Classic

Blake Colston
sports@piedmontnewsonline.com

KINGFISHER — Trevin Michael had everything working Saturday, which left Kingfisher with nothing doing.

Michael fanned seven Yellowjackets in a complete game shutout win to lead Piedmont past Kingfisher in the third place game of the Express Employment Professionals Piedmont Classic at Kingfisher’s Homier Field.

Working both sides of the plate and throwing both his fastball and offspeed offerings for strikes, Michael was dominant.

“That was probably the best game he’s thrown all season,” Piedmont head coach Kory Williams said. “He was at 76 pitches through six innings. He filled up the zone and didn’t walk a lot of guys. He did a great job.”

Trevin Michael

Blake Colston/Gazette Trevin Michael throws a pitch during his complete game shutout on Saturday in Kingfisher.

Michael allowed just two hits, walked four and twice stranded Yellowjacket runners in scoring position with strikeouts. In a rhythm behind him, Piedmont’s defense played an errorless game and rolled an important 4-6-3 double play to end the sixth.

“When the pitcher is throwing strikes, the defense doesn’t get lazy out there,” Williams said. “If you’re pounding the zone the defense will usually play well behind you.”

In a game moved from Piedmont to Kingfisher because of rain earlier in the day, the Wildcats struck first with a pair of small-ball runs in the third.

Jake Kisling led off the inning with a single and Gabe Griffith followed with another hit to put runners on first and second. After a sacrifice bunt by Hunter Chism, Noah Ellis delivered an RBI-single to give PHS all the offense it needed. A Kingfisher error on a double steal scored Piedmont’s final run of the game.

“Our kids have executed our hit-and-runs and our slug-and-runs well here recently,” Williams said. “And we been able to do those kinds of things because we’ve been playing at even or ahead most of the time.”

Winners of 9-of-12 games and 3-of-4, Williams was pleased with his teams’ third place finish in the tournament. Piedmont narrowly missed qualifying for the title game thanks to a 7-5 loss to Woodward late on Friday.

“Anytime you can go 3-1 in a tournament that’s a good thing,” he said. “We let one slip away that we felt like we should’ve won, but we leave today with a win.”

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