KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ KOMU.com Sports Sports en-us Copyright 2016, KOMU.com. All Rights Reserved. Feed content is not avaialble for commercial use. () () Tue, 24 May 2016 11:05:40 GMT Synapse CMS 10 KOMU.com http://www.komu.com/ 144 25 TARGET 8: Local high school football soars, despite national drop http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-local-high-school-football-soars-despite-national-drop/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-local-high-school-football-soars-despite-national-drop/ Sports Wed, 18 May 2016 11:53:44 AM Landon Burke, KOMU 8 Anchor TARGET 8: Local high school football soars, despite national drop

COLUMBIA - A national decrease in high school football participation has been attributed to heightened awareness of concussions. The game of football was thrust into a new spotlight after thousands of former professional football players sued the NFL in a concussion lawsuit, a case that ended last spring with a judge ruling in favor of the athletes. This past winter, the Golden Globes-nominated movie "Concussion" depicted the dramatic discovery of the condition, and directed more criticism at the NFL.

While concussions continue to make headlines, the number of high school boys playing football has dropped. According to the most recent statistics from the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), there were 25,771 fewer high school football players in the 2014/2015 season, than there were in the fall of 2009.

These heightened concerns over concussions and brain injuries are not just a national phenomenon. Last year, a high school in St. Louis County disbanded its football team, for fear of players' safety. 

The medical element

To get a better understanding of the medical risks associated with football, KOMU 8 News reached out to Stefanie West, an athletic trainer at Hickman High School. West said, in the past, trainers and athletes were much less inclined to notice the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

"Thirty years ago, even twenty years ago, coaches would just say, 'oh, you got your bell rung, it's no big deal,'" West said. "I've been doing this for 25 years, and I treat concussions vastly different now, than I did when I started."

The trainer said, now, athletes and coaches are trained to recognize the signs of a concussion much sooner.

"Athletes now, from a young age, are educated in 'here's what a concussion is, if you have a headache, report it,'" West said.

Despite recently-heightened concussion awareness, West said the game of football is not any more dangerous now than it used to be.

"Certified athletic trainers, across the board, will generally say we get the same amount of injuries that we had ten years ago, or even five years ago," West said. "It's just a matter of how much they are reported."

Battle High School's head football coach, Justin Conyers, agreed. He said the game is safer now than it's ever been.

"It's way more safe now," Conyers said. "There are more rules in place for safety. The rules are making the game safer, and the equipment is making the game safer."

West said medical professionals now know way more about concussions than they did ten or twenty years ago. She said if retired NFL athletes knew then what today's athletes know now, things would be very different.

"Nowadays, we are so informed, you see everything," West said. "We didn't used to know what was going on in the NFL. You saw it on Monday night, Sunday night... that's all you saw. Now, we see all the stories. The background stories, the retired athletes with dementia... it's all out there. And the parents and athletes get a little concerned."

Conyers said the troubling stories of retired NFL players reverberate down to the high school level.

"That does make it a little rough," Conyers said. "Parents get a little scared about their kids, with the concussion issues and what that may lead to, like further injury later in life."

The coaches' concerns

However, Conyers said doctors, trainers and coaches have learned from the past.

"Now, there's so much information out about concussions," Conyers said. "It's made sure the game is a lot more safe now than it was, even when I played."

West said from an early age, today's football players are taught to protect their heads, and report any signs of a possible concussion. West said this has created a very apparent cultural change in high school football.

"The athletes have changed," West said. "The parents' attitude... the athletes' attitude about 'how hard do I need to push myself...' that has changed. Football coaches have noticed it. That die hard attitude of the past... that's gone away."

Conyers said the state has adopted new rules to help protect the players. He said while some rule changes have been for the better, he worries too many new regulations will have a negative effect.

"The game is forever changing, and I think the scary part of that is, you feel like the contact piece is slowly being taken away," Conyers said.

Conyers told KOMU 8 News, in years past, Missouri high school football teams were allowed 25 days of "contact" practice every summer. This year, however, MSHSAA will only allow 20 days of contact practice.

Conyers said those summer contact days are vital to prepare the athletes for the fast-paced, full-tackle games in the fall. Conyers said he is worried about not having as many days to practice proper hitting technique.

"I think that hurts the kids more than it helps the kids," Conyers said. "That time lets us get acclimated to having that helmet on, having those shoulder pads on, learning how to keep your head up. It's not full-tackle in the summer. We're learning how to use proper technique. My fear is, we lose those days, now those kids aren't as conditioned, they're not as inclined to use the proper technique as we get into season. Then the minute we get into full pads, and we're full contact... our kids aren't ready for that."

The parents' concerns

Though injury is always a possibility in football, West said most local parents don't express any concern about concussions until their child has one of his or her own.

"I don't get a lot of concern about it, until their athlete has had a concussion," West said. "That's where the red flags start popping up, and then they are a little more hesitant to let that athlete go back in the sport."

Conyers said most parents in Columbia don't express too much concern over concussions because they trust the coaches to watch out for their kids.

"I think it's about the community, if they believe the coaches are teaching good technique," Conyers said. "Making sure safety comes first with their kids."

Conyers said his coaching staff takes their responsibility very seriously, and they spend a lot of time emphasizing the importance of proper tackling form.

However, Conyers made it clear that there will never be such a thing as "concussion-free" tackle football.

"I mean, it's just not ever gonna happen," he said.

"It's a physical sport," Conyers said. "It's a violent sport. A lot of people want to use the world 'contact.' It's a collision sport, it truly is. On Friday nights, kids are going out, and playing physical. There are going to be some hard hits. But that's what the game is about."

Conyers said pain and injury are a fundamental part of football. He said his players understand that when they play football, they might get hurt.

"There is a risk, but there's also a reward that comes with this game," he said. 

Conyers said football can be a violent game, but it teaches young men valuable lessons.

"It's about 'are you willing to commit yourself, to something bigger than yourself,'" Conyers said. "To be a part of this team... to grow and to learn way more valuable lessons out of football, than just the game. And I think whenever parents look at that, when they see how their young men develop... I think that's encouraging to parents to let their kids play."

The numbers in Columbia

After looking at the national numbers, KOMU 8 News reached out to local high school coaches and athletic directors, to see how participation has been affected on the local level. The athletic directors at Hickman and Rock Bridge were able to provide MSHSAA-verified numbers for the years 2015-2016, but they said they could not find record of any participation numbers before that.

To get the participation numbers for the years 2000 and 2005, KOMU 8 News dug through old yearbooks at the Boone County Library.  

Here's a look at the number of high school football players in Columbia, per year. Numbers with (*) are approximate values based off team rosters in yearbooks, not records from coaches or MSHSAA.

Note: Fr. Tolton first opened in 2011, and Battle opened in 2013.

Even amidst the growing concussion concerns, and national high school participation decreasing, football appears to be alive and well in mid-Missouri.

High school athletic officials in Columbia said this recent surge in football participation is mainly due to the opening of Battle High School.

Conyers said by adding another football team, the city created more slots for players. And when it comes to football teams, "if you build it, they will come."

"It gives the kids who normally wouldn't have the opportunity, the opportunity to play," Conyers said.

One player's story

Conyers said the creation of a new high school gave a chance to a lot of kids, many of whom would never have thought to try out.

One of those students, is Tyler Gray.

Gray almost went his whole high school career without playing football. But in May of 2015, the spring before his senior year, he decided to go out for the team.

"I started going to workouts, and then I ended up getting the starting corner spot," Gray said.

Gray said, at first, he had a few reservations about playing football, due to his size. 

"Everybody has that image of football where, if you play, you're gonna get injured," Gray said.

But after some encouragement from his coach, the former basketball player decided to put away his sneakers, and put on the cleats.

Though he has not played the game very long, Gray said he knows football is a crucial element in the lives of many young men.

"It takes care of a lot of kids," Gray said. "It changes a lot of kids' lives. If they didn't have football, they wouldn't come to school. They wouldn't care about their grades, and they wouldn't have good friends, or good people trying to achieve the same goal as them." 

Though he is no longer a high school athlete, Gray's days of football are far from over. After one season of football with Battle High School, Gray managed to land a spot as a preferred walk-on for Missouri State's football team. He starts practice this fall.

The numbers in mid-Missouri
KOMU 8 News reached out to several smaller schools in mid-Missouri, to see if they had noticed a different trend. In a statement to KOMU 8 News, Pat Lacy, the athletic director for Southern Boone County High School, said his school has also seen an increase of participation.
"We have had an increase in numbers in the high school football program each year for the last 4 years," Lacy stated. "Middle school football has also had an increase in numbers, or stayed the same the last 4 years."
Lacy said coaches at Southern Boone do their best to keep their roster full, not just because it makes a better team, but also because it's safer for the younger athletes.
"When you do have a drop in numbers, it is a concern," Lacy stated. "You might have to play a 9th grader that is going up against a senior, and the physicality of the game can lead to injuries. Currently that is a goal of our head coach, to get good numbers out of each class. It is really important to get a good number out for each grade, to prevent those situations." 

In the coming weeks, many mid-Missouri high school football teams will start summer practice to prepare for the season. Conyers said this year, his team will be about 120 players strong.


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Central Methodist softball scores generational triple play http://www.komu.com/news/central-methodist-softball-scores-generational-triple-play/ http://www.komu.com/news/central-methodist-softball-scores-generational-triple-play/ Sports Tue, 17 May 2016 3:31:47 PM Conner Handel, KOMU 8 Reporter Central Methodist softball scores generational triple play

FAYETTE - Family is a big part of the Central Methodist University softball team. Three generations of the Reardon family are part of the program. Pat, the father, has been the head coach for the last 24 years. Gene, the grandpa, has been an assistant for the last 10 years, and Addy, the daughter, joined the team this season and starts in the outfield as a freshman.

A history of success

Pat and Gene had celebrated five consecutive conference championships entering this season.

“Last year here [at Cox Softball Complex], the final out and kind of everybody out there, and just hugging my dad, you know, sharing that stuff with him has been great,” Pat said.

Gene also recalled several accomplishments he and his son have achieved.

“Seeing him and him being excited, the first time we really got to go to the finals at the World Series, winning the first conference championship, I mean all of that stuff was just nice to see being accomplished together,” Gene said.

“Those will be things that I think if he ever does give it up, or if I ever give it up, we can sit back and enjoy,” Pat said.

Addy, then a senior in high school, had to celebrate the conference championship last season from the stands.

And Addy makes three

“It was really cool watching, at that point in time I had committed, so I was hoping next year I could be out there too,” she said.

“Having won five in a row it was kind of like, my biggest fear was her coming here and not being able to do it in the time she was here,” Pat said.

Addy had a big freshman season and was one of eight players on the team named All-Conference, just one of two freshman on the team to earn that honor. The conference honored Pat as the Heart of America Athletic Conference Coach of the Year.

The team went on to win its sixth consecutive conference championship this season. This time, all three Reardon’s were on the field celebrating.

'We got a ring'

“And when we did win it I just gave her a big hug, and I said, 'We got a ring,' so all three of us will have one for the rest of our lives,” Pat said.

“And of course I teared up after that because that’s a cool thing for a dad and daughter to have,” Addy said. “I think just playing for my dad is a great opportunity and not a lot of kids get that, so I’m happy that I got that opportunity."

“Having the experience to be able to work with my dad, have him here every day, have my back, and have my daughter on top of that,” Pat said. “I’m glad she made the choice to come here. I think she’s glad she made the choice to come here. And we’ve got three more years, and hopefully we can make the most of them.”


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Santos, first player to compete in women's NCAA singles championship in 13 years http://www.komu.com/news/santos-first-player-to-compete-in-women-s-ncaa-singles-championship-in-13-years/ http://www.komu.com/news/santos-first-player-to-compete-in-women-s-ncaa-singles-championship-in-13-years/ Sports Tue, 17 May 2016 1:26:52 PM Ajah Polk, KOMU 8 Sports Santos, first player to compete in women's NCAA singles championship in 13 years

COLUMBIA- Junior Bea Santos was recently selected to represent the University of Missouri in the NCAA singles tournament, the first Tiger to be picked in more than a decade.

But she'll be representing more than just the Tigers. She'll have the expectations of an entire country on her shoulders.

Santos is a native of Lisbon, Portugal, and said the transition to America was hard at first, but tennis helped make it easier.

"It was definitely hard at first, just living away from my family it was the first time I ever did something like that so it was different from the things I'm used to but once I got used to it, it was fun to get to know a different culture and make new friends over here and make this my second home," Santos said.

With this being Santos second year playing for Mizzou, she contributed to the team's success this season with an overall best team record in over 10 years.

Before being selected to play in the championship, Santos was named to Second-Team All-SEC with a record of 21-16 in singles. 

"I see it as an opportunity to do great things for Mizzou and to just be there will be an awesome experience," Santos said. "To see the best players in the nation, men and women it'll be really fun and I'm just excited for Mizzou."

Sasha Schmid, the women's head coach, said she watched Bea's confidence in her game improve as the season progressed.

"She works hard every single day, and she's obviously been very very talented from the very beginning," Schmid said.

Santos said she's had the support of her team and the coaching staff supporting her throughout her journey to the tournament. 

"They were really super super excited for me, its been nice, they come out here and help me practice and take turns," Bea said. "They kind of coordinate between themselves like who comes which day, they've been awesome."

She said she is not worried about the competition and is looking forward to the tournament.

The singles competition is set to begin May 25 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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University of Missouri Men's Basketball Team Announces Portion of 2016-17 Nonconference Schedule http://www.komu.com/news/university-of-missouri-men-s-basketball-team-announces-portion-of-2016-17-nonconference-schedule/ http://www.komu.com/news/university-of-missouri-men-s-basketball-team-announces-portion-of-2016-17-nonconference-schedule/ Sports Tue, 17 May 2016 10:45:11 AM Mercedes Mackay, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer University of Missouri Men's Basketball Team Announces Portion of 2016-17 Nonconference Schedule

The Univeristy of Missouri men's basketball team has released select nonconference matchups for the 2016-2017 season. The team will continue to update the schedule in the upcoming months.

Confirmed 2016-2017 Nonconference Dates

Nov. 4               Exhibition Game vs. TBA

Nov. 17             at 2016 Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Nov. 18             at 2016 Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Nov. 20             at 2016 Puerto Rico Tip-Off (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Nov. 25 or 26     vs. Northwestern State

Dec. 3               vs. Western Kentucky

Dec. 6               vs. Miami, Ohio

Dec. 10             vs. Arizona

Dec. 17             vs. Eastern Illinois

Dec. 21             vs. Illinois (St. Louis, Mo.)

Dec. 29             vs. Lipscomb

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Lincoln Track & Field Teams Finish in Top 25 http://www.komu.com/news/lincoln-track-and-field-teams-finish-in-top-25/ http://www.komu.com/news/lincoln-track-and-field-teams-finish-in-top-25/ Sports Tue, 17 May 2016 9:53:13 AM Mercedes Mackay, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer Lincoln Track & Field Teams Finish in Top 25

JEFFERSON CITY- As the regular season comes to an end, Jefferson City’s Lincoln outdoor track and field women finish ranked No. 2 in the country while the LU men finish ranked No. 18.

The Blue Tiger women finish with 158.65 points. They finished with two points less than Pittsburg State. The top five also included Saint Augustine at No. 3, West Texas A&M at No. 4, and Hillsdale finishing it off at No.5.

Other Missouri schools in the top 25 include Central Missouri at No. 9 and Missouri Southern at No. 15.

The Blue Tiger men are No. 18 in the country, receiving 63.36 points this week. Central Missouri is No. 7 and Missouri Southern is No. 13.

Both Blue Tiger teams will next compete on May 26-28 in Tampa Florida at the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track & Field Championships.

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Molina's pinch-hit double lifts Cardinals over Dodgers 5-2 http://www.komu.com/news/molina-s-pinch-hit-double-lifts-cardinals-over-dodgers-5-2/ http://www.komu.com/news/molina-s-pinch-hit-double-lifts-cardinals-over-dodgers-5-2/ Sports Sun, 15 May 2016 10:26:36 PM The Associated Press Molina's pinch-hit double lifts Cardinals over Dodgers 5-2

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Matt Carpenter homered, Yadier Molina had a tiebreaking two-run double in the top of the seventh inning and the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-2 on Sunday night to avoid being swept in the three-game series.

Molina pinch hit for starting pitcher Mike Leake and put the Cardinals up 3-1 when he lined reliever Joe Blanton's pitch into the left field corner with two outs. Stephen Piscotty followed with an RBI single off Blanton two batters later.

Leake (2-3) pitched six innings to win his second straight start, and Trevor Rosenthal got his seventh save.

Corey Seager homered twice for the Dodgers, the first multihomer game of his career.

J.P. Howell (1-1) took the loss after allowing a one-out single to Jeremy Hazelbaker, who scored on Molina's double.

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Elliott leads way, Blues beat Sharks 2-1 in Game 1 http://www.komu.com/news/elliott-leads-way-blues-beat-sharks-2-1-in-game-1/ http://www.komu.com/news/elliott-leads-way-blues-beat-sharks-2-1-in-game-1/ Sports Sun, 15 May 2016 10:21:37 PM The Associated Press Elliott leads way, Blues beat Sharks 2-1 in Game 1

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Brian Elliott had another standout game in net, David Backes and Jori Lehtera had goals and the St. Louis Blues opened their first Western Conference final in 15 years with a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks on Sunday night.

Tomas Hertl scored on a first period deflection for the Sharks, who outshot St. Louis 32-23 but couldn't quite solve Elliott.

The Sharks were the best road team in the NHL in the regular season at 28-10-3, but have dropped four in a row on the road in these playoffs, including all three in the second round against Nashville. They had seven goals in three road losses to the Predators and were 0 for 5 on the power play, which had been a major plus. San Jose had been converting on 33 percent of its power plays in the postseason.

Game 2 is on Tuesday night.

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Missouri Softball lands No. 15 overall seed in NCAA Tournament http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-softball-lands-no-15-overall-seed-in-ncaa-tournament/ http://www.komu.com/news/missouri-softball-lands-no-15-overall-seed-in-ncaa-tournament/ Sports Sun, 15 May 2016 9:53:01 PM Hannah Husmann, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer Missouri Softball lands No. 15 overall seed in NCAA Tournament

COLUMBIA - Missouri Softball (39-14) has earned the overall number 15 seed in the 2016 College Softball NCAA Tournament and will face BYU (35-19) in the first round.

This is Mizzou's tenth straight tournament appearance and eighth straight season as a regional host. The Tigers take on the Cougars on Thursday at 8 p.m. (ET) at University Field.

The other two teams to round out the Columbia regional are Nebraska (33-19) and Louisville (35-15), who will also play Thursday at 5:30 p.m. (ET).

Both games will be broadcast on ESPN2.

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Morales smacks 2-run walk-off homer, KC beats Braves in 13 http://www.komu.com/news/morales-smacks-2-run-walk-off-homer-kc-beats-braves-in-13/ http://www.komu.com/news/morales-smacks-2-run-walk-off-homer-kc-beats-braves-in-13/ Sports Sun, 15 May 2016 7:09:14 PM The Associated Press Morales smacks 2-run walk-off homer, KC beats Braves in 13

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kendrys Morales hit a walk-off two-run homer with two outs in the 13th inning and the Kansas City Royals overcame a rare blown save by Wade Davis to defeat the Atlanta Braves 4-2 on Sunday.

The Royals took two of three from the last-place Braves after losing their five previous series. The Braves lost for the 18th time in 23 games and have won only one series this season.

Alcides Escobar, who had four hits to match his career high, singled before Morales' blast off Jason Grilli.

The Royals used nine pitchers, tying a club record for one game, with Chien-Ming Wang (2-0) picking up the victory. Lefthander Eric O'Flaherty (0-3), the sixth of seven Braves pitchers, took the loss.

The Braves rallied to tie it with two runs in the ninth off Davis, who blew his first save since July 12 against Toronto.

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Coach Ehren Earleywine asks players to end protest http://www.komu.com/news/coach-ehren-earleywine-asks-players-to-end-protest/ http://www.komu.com/news/coach-ehren-earleywine-asks-players-to-end-protest/ Sports Fri, 13 May 2016 5:54:19 PM Chinmay Vaidya, KOMU 8 Sports Reporter Coach Ehren Earleywine asks players to end protest

COLUMBIA — Missouri softball coach Ehren Earleywine issued a statement via text today asking the softball players to end their protest of Missouri athletic director Mack Rhoades and his administration.

The protests stem from the handling of an investigation of the program. 

The players issued a statement about their protest before their game on May 7 accusing the administration of "bullying and intimidating players during investigation interviews", "placing a gag order on coaches" and "making up a false investigation."

The players also said the administration did not handle the football protest correctly in the fall. 

The softball team also created a website in support of Coach Earleywine outlining the problems with the administration.

The website also has a letter from Missouri softball's unity council saying terminating Coach Earleywine will not alleviate the problems the athletic administration is investigating. 

(Editor's Note: As of May 13, the players have not ended their protest.)

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Young and Medlen put on DL by Royals with arm injuries http://www.komu.com/news/young-and-medlen-put-on-dl-by-royals-with-arm-injuries/ http://www.komu.com/news/young-and-medlen-put-on-dl-by-royals-with-arm-injuries/ Sports Thu, 12 May 2016 5:31:37 PM The Associated Press Young and Medlen put on DL by Royals with arm injuries

NEW YORK (AP) — Struggling pitchers Chris Young and Kris Medlen have been put on the disabled list by the Kansas City Royals.

An MRI Wednesday determined Young has a strained right forearm, and Medlen has right rotator cuff inflammation. Young's stint is retroactive to Tuesday and Medlen's to Wednesday.

Young is 1-5 with a 6.68 ERA in seven starts and Medlen 1-3 with a 7.77 ERA in six.

Kansas City selected the contract of right-hander Peter Moylan from Omaha before Thursday's series finale at the New York Yankees and recalled left-hander Scott Alexander from the Triple-A team.

Moylan is 1-1 with a five saves and a 0.71 ERA in 12 relief appearances with the Storm Chasers, and Alexander is 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings.

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Local Scores: Tuesday, May 10, 2016 http://www.komu.com/news/local-scores-tuesday-may-10-2016/ http://www.komu.com/news/local-scores-tuesday-may-10-2016/ Sports Tue, 10 May 2016 9:54:32 PM Stephanie Lorenc, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer Local Scores: Tuesday, May 10, 2016

MID-MISSOURI - Here are some local scores from around the area for Tuesday, May 10, 2016:

High School Boy's Tennis

Tolton 5, Rickland 0

High School Baseball

Hallsville 4, Sturgeon 2

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TARGET 8: Adopting baseball protection difficult because of stigma http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-adopting-baseball-protection-difficult-because-of-stigma/ http://www.komu.com/news/target-8-adopting-baseball-protection-difficult-because-of-stigma/ Sports Tue, 10 May 2016 7:01:26 PM Tyler Hastedt, KOMU 8 Reporter TARGET 8: Adopting baseball protection difficult because of stigma

COLUMBIA - Although the probability is low, players being hit by a batted ball is a growing concern at the major league level, particularly for pitchers.

Eight major league pitchers have been hit in the head by a line drive since 2013. Target 8 decided to look at the current protection guidelines for high school baseball players in mid-Missouri.


According to the MSHSAA 2016 Baseball Manual, "Head protectors shall be worn as provided in Baseball Rule 1-5. All protectors will carry the NOCSAE Seal of Approval and warning label." That requires batters to wear helmets, but not fielders.

MSHSAA Communications Director Jason West said Article 5 of the same rule gives all players in the field the option to wear a face mask as long as it has a non-glare surface.

Even though this rule is put in place by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), West said he doesn't see many high school baseball players choosing to wear a face mask.

"We haven't seen a lot of it, if any, in Missouri yet," West said. "That may be coming. It normally starts at the younger levels coming up."

West said he sees more softball players wearing headgear because they start wearing it at a younger age.

"That really started at the youth summer league level and then when those girls went into high school and into college," West said. "Now you see it all the time at the collegiate level. As they moved up, they were more comfortable with it and it was just part of the game at that point. When the rules were changed to allow headgear or make it mandatory in some cases, it was a lot easier for those girls to transition into that."


West said the difference between baseball and softball also results from baseball taking its own path in research.

"Baseball has kind of taken a different direction especially with the use of their restrictions on bats, and they've done a very good job of monitoring and testing the bats and bat speed, the contact of the ball off the bat, and how quickly the ball comes off the bat," West said.

West said the NFHS made a big push a few years ago to make the ratio closer to alleviate the risk of line drives. The NCAA also changed its bats to meet BBCOR standards in 2011.

The current standard used for non-wood bats by the NFHS and the NCAA is the BBCOR standard. According to West, all BBCOR certified bats must have a length to weight ratio no greater than -3.

"If you have a 33 inch bat, then the weight of that bat couldn't be over 30 ounces and that's how it progresses," West said.

The goal of the BBCOR standards is to make metal bats perform more like wood bats and improve player safety.

"You could have a 33 inch bat that weighs 27 ounces," West said. "Now the batter can get that bat through the zone a lot faster without as much drag and make the ball come off the bat faster because he or she can use their own strength. Having to have a heavier bat with the length, that causes the bat to slow down and the ball doesn't come off as fast." 

Another limitation placed on pitchers in the 2016 manual is the number of innings they are allowed to throw. The manual states, "A pitcher may not pitch in more than 10 innings during any consecutive three day period." 

"The other thing we began this year was pitch counts and kind of limiting the use of pitchers' arms because we found sometimes those big hits come when a pitcher has been throwing too much," West said. "He or she might be a little tired and drop a pitch right down where it doesn't need to be. Having fresh arms can help control the ball on the pitching level and alleviate some of those line drives as well."


Dr. Aaron Gray is the doctor for the baseball team at the University of Missouri. He said he feels the tradition of the game prevents players from wearing headgear in the field. 

"Baseball is a game of tradition and history, and so I think naturally players want to continue the traditions that were passed down," Dr. Gray said. "Putting a helmet on a pitcher or a face guard on a pitcher is very revolutionary and a different type of thing than most players and pitchers are used to."

Rock Bridge High School head baseball coach Justin Towe said he has not had any conversations with his coaching staff regarding headgear protection for players in the field.

"I think baseball players kind of figure that's part of the game," Towe said. "Batters have enough pads...you know they might as well be catchers at times when they have elbow pads and ankle pads. Positional players have their gloves and their athletic ability, so in all honesty, it rarely ever comes up."

In an ESPN.com story published back on Feb. 17, 2013, former major league pitcher Joe Martinez opened up about the topic. Martinez was hit by a line drive while pitching for the San Francisco Giants in 2009. 

"They [pitchers] aren't going to want anything that makes them look goofy," Martinez said. "It sounds ridiculous, you think safety would be so much more important than what you look like, but baseball players like looking good."

Towe said this sort of stigma is part of the equation as to why baseball teams are reluctant to wear headgear protection in the field.

"I think that's probably some of it, and some of it is it's baseball," Towe said. "It's hardball. It just kind of comes with the game."

West said he feels there is a similar stigma at the high school level.

"We're still dealing with high school boys that are concerned with their looks," West said. "Baseball pitchers sometimes have a fragile ego because they're the one everybody is looking at, so they have that pressure on top of everything else. Every pitch, you're the one somebody is staring at be it a 500 seat stadium at the high school level to the major league level."

Rock Bridge senior pitcher Avery Jennings also said this sort of stigma exists at the high school level.

"There's a lot of players who just want to look good," Jennings said. "There are some brands out there that say 'Oh, we're going to protect you,' but really it's all about the accessories for a lot of guys."

Rock Bridge senior pitcher Brandon Goins said it's more about the issue of comfortability.

"I think it's more focused on the discomfort some of the protective gear brings or carrying extra weight," Goins said. "Sometimes it feels unnatural to carry it. Most people don't have to face getting hit by a baseball in your private areas or in your heart or anything like that, so most people don't worry about it."

West also touched on Goins' point of view. 

"I think the higher level you get in baseball and the more precision you need, having more equipment on your person, especially on the defensive side, may weigh you down and get you off your game just enough that you're not at the elite level anymore," West said.

Jennings said he sometimes thinks about the risks associated with his position, while Goins said he doesn't really think about it.

"It never really crosses my mind until I get a rocket right back at me," Jennings said. "I have been hit in the shin before. I've almost had my head taken off a couple times already this season. Sometimes I do look back, and I think I really wish I had something protecting me. At the same time, some of the safety precautions you have to take don't really look that great on the field, so I'll admit sometimes I stay away from them just because I want to look better on the field."

"I mainly trust my reactions to either get out of the way or catch the ball, but it's not really a worry of mine," Goins said.

Potential Research and Solutions

Target 8 asked Dr. Gray if he thinks anything can be done to change the stigma concerning players wanting to look good. 

"I worry that it might take someone getting seriously injured or possibly losing their life or having serious harm for that to come," Gray said. "I know there has been some work on getting padded pitching helmets but unfortunately the ones they have now are quite large and look different. I'm hopeful that through future technologies we can come up with equipment that can protect pitchers but maintain the look and feel of tradition."

West said he feels it might take a few injuries for protective gear to be mandated.

"I don't know if it will take a severe injury, but it may take a couple injuries before people really get into 'Ok let's take a look at this again' and get it fresh in their mind," West said.

Gray said any changes geared toward protecting players need to be the result of good data. KOMU 8 News asked Gray these three questions:

1) How would you go about collecting data if you were in charge of the research?

2) How much does seriousness versus probability of injuries factor into your process?

3) What data would you find the most helpful in determining what needs to be done to increase safety for pitchers?

Here are Gray's answers:

1) You first need to figure out how often pitchers get hit by batted balls in the head face and how serious these injuries are.  This will be different for each level of baseball (Little League, high school, college, MLB, etc)  To do this you need to figure out how much exposure a team’s pitchers had to this potential injury (need to know how many games each team played) and then you need to track how many times a pitchers gets hit by a ball in the head/face and how bad the injuries are.  Major league baseball is doing this.

2) In injury prevention we like to base our future decisions on previous measured data. That is why #1 above is so important.  You need to know how often it happens.  Unfortunately, sometimes a certain injury can be very, very rare but when it happens it can be a serious injury.  Sometimes a serious injury can be so unusually rare that it doesn’t make sense to protect every single athlete from that potential injury.  This is a complicated subject.

3) We need to know if preventive measures (rule changes, extra equipment) actually works to prevent the pitcher from being hit in the head/face.  NCAA changed their bats a couple years ago to make the ball not come off as hard and this was based on lab testing of different bats.  Protective face guards or helmets for pitchers need to be tested to make sure they work.  Real players also need to test it to see if it impacts how they play the game because if it impacts there normal performance they won’t wear it.

The NCAA and NFHS have made strides when it comes to monitoring the bats being used. The player is currently in charge of choosing whether to wear protective gear in the field at the high school level, and holding onto tradition brings a fair share of risks.







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Mizzou Tennis star Santos wins Arthur Ashe Leadership, Sportsmanship award http://www.komu.com/news/mizzou-tennis-star-santos-wins-arthur-ashe-leadership-sportsmanship-award/ http://www.komu.com/news/mizzou-tennis-star-santos-wins-arthur-ashe-leadership-sportsmanship-award/ Sports Mon, 9 May 2016 6:04:39 PM Joseph Gjata, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer Mizzou Tennis star Santos wins Arthur Ashe Leadership, Sportsmanship award

COLUMBIA - Mizzou Tennis junior Bea Machado Santos received the International Tennis Association/Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship award Monday.

The award dates back to 1982 and is given out to each level of NCAA Tennis (Division I, II, III, NAIA, JUCO) to players who have "exhibited outstanding sportsmanship and leadership as well as scholastic, extracurricular and tennis achievements." Santos is one of 12 recipients to earn the honor at the Division I level and has received the award for the central region.

National awards winners will be announced Tuesday, May 24. 

The Portugal native is just three shy of 100 career wins, including a respectable 52-28 mark in doubles play. She's also put up six wins over ranked opponents this season and was named to the Second Team All-SEC last month. The junior is also very active around the Columbia community. She volunteers for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, Girl Scouts Love Yourself Day, Mizzou Moves, the Food Bank and Caleb's Pitch.

Santos will compete in the NCAA Tournament May 25-30 in singles competition.

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NASCAR's mid-Missouri ties extend beyond the track http://www.komu.com/news/nascar-s-mid-missouri-ties-extend-beyond-the-track/ http://www.komu.com/news/nascar-s-mid-missouri-ties-extend-beyond-the-track/ Sports Mon, 9 May 2016 3:06:10 PM Chinmay Vaidya, KOMU 8 Sports Reporter NASCAR's mid-Missouri ties extend beyond the track

KANSAS CITY - Columbia native Carl Edwards had some familiar help in his pit during Saturday's race. 

Boone County Fire Protection District Assistant Chief Gale Blomenkamp joined the team's pit crew as a firefighter. His responsibilities for the day; put out fires in and around Edwards' pit stall. 

"People can get injured down here, it's a very happening place," Blomenkamp said. "Usually there are not many accidents, not many issues, but when they do happen it's good to be here for the team."

Blomenkamp said the job requires more than the yearly training all pit firefighters get at the racetrack. 

"Really it's about keeping your head on a swivel, knowing what's going on around you," Blomenkamp said. "Always be alert." 

Edwards said Blomenkamp is just one of several mid-Missouri connections to NASCAR.  

"It's cool to have Gale in our pits, guess it's his third time here so that's really neat," Edwards said. "We got Kip Wolfmeier changing tires, he's from around Kingdom City/Auxvausse area, it's cool. We're just guys that like to race cars."

Edwards said he always see familiar faces when racing on his 'home' track.

"All the folks at Capital Speedway in Moberly, in Fulton, Callway, all the folks that helped me, it's just neat to be able to race here in front of them," Edwards said. "I saw guys that I raced with 15 years ago on dirt down in Holts Summit and it's neat to be here doing this." 

As for Blomenkamp, he sees the contribution as an extension of his duties at the Fire District. 

"It's really cool to work in his pit and know that you're helping a neighbor," Blomenkamp said. "One of our slogans at the Fire District is "A Helping Hand", so now I'm a neighbor helping a neighbor again."




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Polanco, Jaso homer, lead Cole, Pirates over Cardinals http://www.komu.com/news/polanco-jaso-homer-lead-cole-pirates-over-cardinals/ http://www.komu.com/news/polanco-jaso-homer-lead-cole-pirates-over-cardinals/ Sports Sun, 8 May 2016 4:28:34 PM The Associated Press Polanco, Jaso homer, lead Cole, Pirates over Cardinals

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Gregory Polanco hit a three-run homer and John Jaso added a two-run drive, leading Gerrit Cole and the Pittsburgh Pirates over the St. Louis Cardinals 10-5 Sunday.

Cole (3-3) gave up two runs and six hits in six innings. He struck out seven and walked two.

Mark Melancon relieved with the bases loaded in the ninth and got Yadier Molina to ground into a game-ending double play for his ninth save.

Michael Wacha (2-3) lost his third consecutive decision for only the second time in his career, the first coming in 2014. He allowed four runs on six hits and two walks in six innings.

In his last three starts against the Pirates, Wacha has given up 15 runs and 20 hits in 14 1/3 innings.


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No. 14 Mizzou Softball takes series over South Carolina, Lowary deals shutout amidst protest http://www.komu.com/news/no-14-mizzou-softball-takes-series-over-south-carolina-lowary-deals-shutout-amidst-protest/ http://www.komu.com/news/no-14-mizzou-softball-takes-series-over-south-carolina-lowary-deals-shutout-amidst-protest/ Sports Sun, 8 May 2016 4:12:18 PM James Stanley, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer No. 14 Mizzou Softball takes series over South Carolina, Lowary deals shutout amidst protest

COLUMBIA – Far away from their native Columbia in South Carolina, the Gamecocks lost to Mizzou Softball 2-0 on Sunday afternoon at University Field. The Tigers scored two runs on three hits while the Gamecocks left eight runners on base.

Sophomore LHP Paige Lowary threw a shutout securing her twenty-second win, allowing five hits and striking out six Gamecocks.

Missouri’s only two runs came off a homerun in the fourth inning by sophomore 3B Amanda Sanchez and a RBI single in the fifth inning from senior RF Emily Crane that scored freshman Reagan Nash.

Missouri and South Carolina each committed an error, The Tigers’ came off of an error from Lowary in the second inning. Luckily for Lowary, the Gamecocks were unable to capitalize while she was able to cruise the rest the way allowing no runs.

Sunday’s win came amidst an on-going protest by Mizzou Softball against the Mizzou Athletic Department and during Sunday’s postgame players did not want to comment on the protest.

The Tigers will travel to Starkville, Miss. for the SEC Softball Tournament from Wed. May 11 – Sat. May 14. With the no. 6 seed, Mizzou Softball will take on the no. 11 seeded South Carolina Gamecocks at 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

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Tomlin stays unbeaten as Indians down Royals 5-4 http://www.komu.com/news/tomlin-stays-unbeaten-as-indians-down-royals-5-4/ http://www.komu.com/news/tomlin-stays-unbeaten-as-indians-down-royals-5-4/ Sports Sun, 8 May 2016 3:23:21 PM The Associated Press Tomlin stays unbeaten as Indians down Royals 5-4

CLEVELAND (AP) — Josh Tomlin stayed unbeaten and again helped Cleveland bounce back after a loss, leading the Indians to a 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Sunday.

Tomlin (5-0) worked into the seventh inning and became the first Indians pitcher to win his first five outings since Justin Masterson in 2011. Tomlin is 12-0 in 13 starts following a loss since the beginning of last season.

Carlos Santana and Mike Napoli homered off Edinson Volquez (3-3) as the Indians took two of three from the defending World Series champions.

Eric Hosmer homered for the Royals, just 3-9 in their last 12.


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Mizzou Baseball drops series finale to Mississippi State, 3-1 http://www.komu.com/news/mizzou-baseball-drops-series-finale-to-mississippi-state-3-1/ http://www.komu.com/news/mizzou-baseball-drops-series-finale-to-mississippi-state-3-1/ Sports Sat, 7 May 2016 8:31:15 PM Mark Stanley, KOMU 8 Sports Digital Producer Mizzou Baseball drops series finale to Mississippi State, 3-1

STARKVILLE — The Mizzou Baseball team dropped its series finale by a score of 3-1 against the Mississippi State Bulldogs Saturday afternoon at Dudy Noble Field.

The Tigers were only able to muster up one run off of eight hits in the game. The only run for Mizzou came off of an error on a fielder's choice by Mississippi State's second baseman John Holland.

With the loss, the Tigers fall to 24-25 on the season. The Mississippi State Buldogs improve to 33-14-1 on the season.

The Tigers failed to capitalize on having runners in scoring position as they finished the game with seven runners left on base. This included a missed opportunity with the bases loaded and no outs in the sixth inning during which Mizzou could only get one run across the plate.

Mississippi State's Daniel Brown was credited with the win, moving him to 3-2 on the season. Reid Humphreys earned the save, which was his sixth of the year. Missouri's Michael Plassmeyer was credited with the loss, making him 4-5 on the season.

The Tigers will look to rebound after being swept, when they take on the Georgia Bulldogs in another three-game weekend series as they approach the end of the season.

The first pitch is set for 6 p.m. Friday at Taylor Stadium.


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Carpenter homers to lift Cardinals to 6-4 win over Pirates http://www.komu.com/news/carpenter-homers-to-lift-cardinals-to-6-4-win-over-pirates/ http://www.komu.com/news/carpenter-homers-to-lift-cardinals-to-6-4-win-over-pirates/ Sports Sat, 7 May 2016 7:41:18 PM The Associated Press Carpenter homers to lift Cardinals to 6-4 win over Pirates

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Matt Carpenter hit a tiebreaking two-run homer in the ninth inning, lifting the St. Louis Cardinals to a 6-4 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates on Saturday.

Aledmys Diaz sparked the winning rally with a leadoff single. After Jeremy Hazelbaker flied to deep left, Carpenter drove a 1-2 pitch from A.J. Schugel (0-1) over the wall in right for his fourth homer.

It was the Cardinals' first win over the Pirates in five games this season.

Pittsburgh had tied the game on Starling Marte's double off Trevor Rosenthal (1-1) with two out in the top of the ninth.


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