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Sports scene stays busy in Pulaski County

Today is Sunday, July 15, which means we are exactly 11 days away from the start of the 2018 Cougar football preseason practice sessions.

 

In case anyone wondered, I love football.

 

Cougar Head Coach Stephen James and his staff have been busy throughout the offseason putting the team through weight room workouts and getting the guys ready for the upcoming season. There have been some seven-on-seven days and the team also went as a group to a full-contact camp at Ferrum before the summer downtime period began.

 

I’ve always thought it would be a great idea to take the team away for a few days somewhere, away from girlfriends and family, where they could focus on nothing but football and coming together as a unit. Hopefully that can continue and even grow in the years to come.

 

Overall, the Cougars have looked about like you’d expect them to look during the preseason. The coaching staff continues to monitor the ups and downs of the team as the official opening day of practice approaches.

 

With the new norm of being able to practice year-round, opening day will be a bit anticlimactic as most of the big decisions will have been made already concerning depth chart and player positioning. Obviously, Coach James is a big fan of competition in practice, so no players should feel overconfident about their spot if there is a hungry young player waiting in the wings. One of the things I’ve heard from the practice field since Coach James took over the program stands out more than others. “Iron sharpens iron.” I like that.

 

As usual, there have been a constant flow of rumors around the program. The biggest rumors each year are always the same, and they always involve who is coming back and who isn’t. Every time I walk in one of our local Walmart stores or go to Calfee Park for a Pulaski Yankee game, I get those questions.

 

Let’s put the issue to rest right now. It doesn’t matter. Pulaski County football is not, has not been and never will be about one person. Every coach who has ever been in charge of the Cougars has said the same thing. “If the starter goes down or isn’t available, we put the next gold helmet in and move forward.”

 

Does that cause the coach to make a change to the game plan sometimes? Sure, but Pulaski County football is about who IS on the field and not who IS NOT. When the Cougars take the field for the first day of practice July 26, Coach James will take the young men he has and plan accordingly. I would hope that fans could leave it at that and start focusing on important issues, like tailgating.

 

A couple of local AAU teams have been making waves recently. As we reported earlier in the week, the Pulaski Wolves seventh grade AAU girls basketball team finished first in one national tournament in Myrtle Beach and then third in another in Tennessee.

 

Now, the eighth grade Wolves are at it, playing in Orlando, Florida, in a national tournament. Video from one of their first games showed them taking down their opponent by a final score of 57-37. Win or lose, these young ladies from the Wolves program are doing everything they can to get better in preparation for putting on their Lady Cougar uniforms. We’ll follow up on their progress through the weekend.

 

The Radford Rattlers, an AAU baseball team for 9-10-year-old baseball players, recently qualified for the 2018 USSSA World Series in Cary, North Carolina. The team and their coaches and families departed the New River Valley Thursday for the event.

 

Yankees still struggling

The Pulaski Yankees held a record of 10 wins and 13 losses heading into their Friday matchup with Bristol. They’ll complete that series and immediately go into a three game series with Princeton beginning Saturday. They’ll play the Rays through Monday, July 16, and then enjoy a much deserved day off Tuesday before heading to Danville and then Bluefield for a six game road series.

 

The team has the tools to win. Their pitching is topnotch and they’ve had games where the bats get hot. When those two things happen, they earn wins. The problem has been consistency. Errors and a lack of hits have cost them in many games. Even in their losses, however, the team has remained competitive. Many of their 13 losses have been by two runs or less. In most of their losses, they had a chance to pull things out in the final inning.

 

Pulaski is on the edge of being a very good baseball team. They just need a few breaks and a good bounce here and there to make it happen.

 

Either way, the action is exciting, the concessions are tasty and plentiful and you’ll never be more than a few feet away from the action when you get out to the ballpark and root for the home team.

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