OVBL reaches midway point; Lafferty on top

At the midway point of the 2014 Steele and Cook Insurance Ohio Valley Baseball League, Lafferty looks like Triple Crown favorite California Chrome.

The Dodgers, managed by Jordan Barbina, have built a three-game lead over the second-place Wheeling Cardinals with their perfect 12-0 record. The Cardinals are 8-2.

Barbina, who was recently named the head men’s basketball coach at Ohio University Eastern, has assembled a well-oiled machine as Lafferty looks to improve upon its runnerup finish last summer to Maynard.

On the mound, the former Union Local three-sport standout added former Linsly standout MoMo Felt; Greg Stagani who starred at Edison and pitches for West Liberty University; and ex-Neffs ace Matt Masarick. He also brought aboard Felt’s former teammate in infielder Alex Stephens and catcher Clay Francis. Felt currently pitches at NCAA D-II Dickinson University in Pa., while Stephens played his freshman season at West Virginia University before transferring to Morehead State University this season. Francis, a former Martins Ferry product, went to Marietta before settling in at WLU last season.

Five other teams, counting the Cardinals, have played above .500 ball thus far. However, all but one have games to be made up.

The Wheeling Toppers, formerly West Liberty, holds down the third spot, but they have only played seven games, winning five of them. Weirton (7-3) is fourth, while Maynard (8-4) and Marshall County (6-5) round out the above-.500 squads.

Of that group, you can never count out defending champion Maynard, especially when veteran Mark Cisar is in the lineup.

Headlining the remainder of the 12-team league is perennial power Barton (4-6). The Braves have been hurt by injuries, mostly the right index finger injury suffered by former T-L staffer Mike Muklewicz which sidelined him for the season. The Bridgeport grad and current assistant diamond coach was hit by a Mike Meintel fastball while attempting to bunt several weeks back.

Shadyside and Jefferson County have also compiled 4-6 marks. The Casket Makers gave Maynard all it wanted Monday night, while the Reds have reportedly struggled to field a team at times.

Hannibal checks in at 3-7; the Wheeling Yankees are 2-9; while the Belmont County Cubs are still seeking their initial victory in 13 starts.

Before you know it, the playoffs (June 26) will be here.

Lone Star Football League Update

I’m trying my best to keep area readers informed of the progress being made by former Bellaire High and Ball State University standout quarterback Nate Davis.

As many of you know, Davis is playing with the Rio Grande Valley Sol, which has played eight games, winning all but two (that I know of).

However, according to LSFL statistics on the league website, Davis is credited with three less games than the Sol has played.

How can that be, you ask? I tried finding out earlier this week, but got nowhere.

Well, not really nowhere. I did receive a return email from LSFL Commissioner Darlene Jones stating the RGV has dropped the ball (fumbled) in keeping its own stats.

Upon receiving that email, I sent a email to the Sol. I received a confirmation email in return (as I have in the past), but no further contact from Hildago, Tx.

As far as I can tell, the strong-armed Davis, who led Amarillo to back-to-back titles in 2012-13, is a sparkling 107-180 for 1,559 yards. He has tossed 32 TDs and just six INTs. His QB rating is 103.7; his completion percentage 59.4; and his yards per game 259.8.

I’ll keep on trying!

Speaking of the LSFL. I ran across this tidbit attempting to track down some information on Davis.

San Angelo defeated West Texas 107-74 a week or so ago. Bandits’ quarterback Luke Collis had a game to remember as he completed 24 of 36 passes for 358 yards and 12 – yes I said 12 as in a dozen – TD passes while being picked off just once.

Harrison Has Earned Shot

Josh Harrison is my kind of ballplayer. The Pittsburgh Pirates do-everything at this point in the season plays the game like it was meant to be played … with hustle and enthusiasm (kind of like Pete Rose – both are from Cincinnati!). For the past month, J-Hay has been the Buccos’ MVP in my mind. He has hit for power and average; has great speed on the bases and in the outfield; and can play a variety of positions as evidenced by his play in right, left, second base and third base.

The big question is, where does he fit in when Gregory Palanco arrives on the scene?