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SPORTS BRIEFS: Albany State volleyball players honored by conference

Jillian  Anderson

Jillian Anderson

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Madison Ragan

Herald Player of the Year Ragan no-hits Sherwood

ALBANY — The Albany Herald’s reigning Player of the Year for softball just took a big step toward making a case for back-to-back honors.

Madison Ragan, who starred at Randolph Southern and led the Lady Patriots to back-to-back state title series before the school closed this offseason, pitched her heart for her new school Thursday with a no-hitter for SGA against rival Sherwood to win, 3-0. The victory also kept the Lady Warriors unbeaten and moved them to 9-0 overall and 6-0 in region play.

“She pitched real well, but so did (Sherwood’s) Anna Laine (Brock),” SGA coach Tommy Manry said of the dueling aces, who are easily the Top 2 arms in Southwest Georgia. “It was a battle.”

Ragan walked three batters, but she struck out a whopping 14. Brock struck out 11 of her own, but she fell victim to a disastrous sixth inning when she gave up all three of her hits — the final one being a home run.

“All Anna Laine made was one mistake,” Manry said. “We got lucky she made one.”

Baylee Everson led off the sixth with a single, then Braylie Blanton bunted safely to put runners on first and second with no outs.

Enter Kendyl Carver, SGA’s emerging home-run hitting machine. Carver, who took Brock deep with two strikes for what proved to be the game-winning shot, had just three round-trippers all of last year, but she’s already got six in nine games in 2013.

“She finally learned to hit it the opposite way instead of pulling everything,” Manry said of the difference between Carver’s junior and senior seasons. “She’s playing well.”

Sherwood falls to 3-2 in region — both of those losses coming to SGA.

Lady Rams capture weekly conference nods

Albany State middle hitter Jillian Anderson, setter Amanda Cook and libero Kaliah Carter were recognized by the conference for their play during the week of Sept. 2-7. Anderson was named Offensive Player of the Week, while Cook was recognized as the Newcomer of the Week. Carter received honorable mention.

During the University of West Florida tournament, Anderson, a 5-foot-7 senior from Athens, recorded 22 kills in four matches. Cook, a 5-5 junior from Kenneth City, Fla., collected 86 assists during the four-match tournament. Carter, a 4-9 sophomore from Rex, had 35 digs in the four matches.

Anderson, Cook, Carter and the rest of the Lady Rams will return to action Sept. 21 when they participate in the 2013 Crossover Tournament at Kentucky State University in Frankfort, Ky.

Hawks hit road for training camp

The Hawks will conduct the first three days of training camp, Oct. 1-3, at the University of Georgia. The team will hold two daily workouts at the Coliseum Training Facility on campus. The school opened the $30 million facility, adjacent to Stegeman Coliseum, in 2007. The facility serves as the home of the Georgia men’s and women’s basketball programs.

The sessions will not be open to the public.

The road trip will help the team as it installs new systems under first-year coach Mike Budenholzer.

Following media day Sept. 30, the Hawks will travel by bus to Athens. They will return to Philips Arena on Oct. 4 to continue preparations for the exhibition-season opener at the Heat on Oct. 7. The Hawks will play six exhibition games, with the finale Oct. 23 at the Mavericks. The team will return to Dallas a week later for the regular-season opener Oct. 30.

It is not uncommon for NBA teams to spend training camp away from home. This year the Suns will practice the first six days on the campus of the University of Northern Arizona. It is the first time since 2004, but the 17th year, the Suns have trained in Flagstaff, Ariz. The Suns have also held training camps in San Diego and Tucson, Ariz.