By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
Clay County graduates are making a big splash this season for their collegiate teams as the winter sports season comes to a close and spring athletics has already begun.
For St. Joseph freshman Leanna Knight, a Northview alum, her indoor track season has taken off much like the Puma frosh's long jump career.
Knight was coming off a victory in the Grand Valley State University Big Meet on Feb. 15 as she flew to a distance of 17 feet, nine inches. Over the weekend, Knight soared to a distance of 18 feet, one and a quarter inch to tie for the Great Lakes Valley Conference Championship. The distance is the third-best of the GLVC indoor season this year.
At Wabash College, Joel Whittington is in his senior season with the Little Giants and is coming off a win as part of the 4x200 meter relay team in the Fred Wilt Invitational in a time of 1:32.20. He also competed in three events at the DePauw Invitational where he won the 400 meters at the DePauw Invitational. He finished in 50.67 seconds. He also recorded a fifth-place finish in the 200 meters and placed fifth in the 60 meter hurdles.
The 2015 softball season has already gotten underway with Northview's Taylor Carter having a successful start to her sophomore campaign at East Tennesee State.
The Division I Buccaneers have utilized Carter's talents both in the circle and at the plate to open the season with a 6-6 record. She's compiled a 1.52 earned run average while appearing in six games, four of them as a starter. She's struck out 20 batters in 23 innings and allowed just five earned runs.
As a hitter, Carter has perhaps been even more impressive as she's compiled a .382 batting average over 34 at-bats with a pair of home runs, 10 runs driven in and three doubles while scoring nine runs.
East Tennessee State got off to a slow start with four straight losses to open the year against Youngstown State, Presbyterian and a double header against Campbell. However, Carter starred in a sweep over Gardner-Webb on Feb. 10, going a combined 5-of-7 at the plate with four RBIs, scored three runs and had a pair of doubles. Over Valentine's weekend, Carter blasted her first home run of the season in a win over East Carolina.
As a freshman, Carter hit .270 with 15 runs scored, seven home runs, six doubles and 29 RBIs while going 13-10 as a pitcher with 59 strikeouts in 152 innings.
The Buccaneers return home to Johnson City, Tenn. for the Holiday Inn Invitational for games against Radford, Tennessee Tech and Kennesaw State.
The Clay City Eels reached the Class A Semi-state last season in softball and one of the leading players on that squad has taken her talents to Oakland City University. Whitney Jeffers is a freshman with the Oaks, but hasn't had a chance to begin her season however as the first three doubleheaders have been postponed due to weather.
Former Terre Haute South Brave Cheyenne Reinig is a sophomore on the Oaks' roster.
Oakland City is slated to travel to Berea College in Kentucky this weekend.
Another former Knight is in the same weather delayed boat as Craig Peters begins his sophomore campaign at Oakland City. The baseball team has had its first five dates either canceled or postponed due to weather. The baseball team is also scheduled for a trip to Kentucky with a doubleheader scheduled against the University of Cincinnati-Clermont on Saturday.
As a freshman, Peters was 2-5 over 11 appearances, four of them starts. He compiled a 4.50 earned run average over 40 innings. He struck out 31 and walked 15.
Rose-Hulman junior first baseman and former Northview standout Zach Hull is playing well to start off the season for the Engineers.
Hull produced three hits in five at-bats against Trine on Monday in a 9-5 victory. He drove home three runs in the win and then added a base hit against Concordia the following day.
On Thursday afternoon Rose-Hulman topped the Milwaukee School of Engineering 8-5 as Hull produced a pair of base hits. He's currently hitting .389 with five RBI's and three runs scored this season.
Vincennes University freshman Connor Pierce has seen plenty of action for the Trailblazers to start the season with four hits in 10 at-bats, including a home run Feb. 8 against West Georgia Technical College. He's driven in three runs and added a double in results recorded through Feb. 14.
Former Northview hurler Kodie Girton is in his junior year at Kentucky State after playing at Lincoln Trail College last season. Girton pitched three innings in a win over Asbury on March 3, striking out two and not allowing a run. He had a base hit in his lone at-bat for the NCAA Division II Thoroughbreds.
At Franklin College, former Knight Bo Stewart has seen action in one game thus far as the Grizzlies have gone 3-1 to this point. Stewart has had one at-bat during the team's trip to Georgia to face Augsburg. The team opens up the home slate on Saturday with a doubleheader against Albion.
On the hardwood at Franklin, Jim Mace wrapped up his freshman season having started 20 games for the Grizzlies and averaging 23 minutes per game. Mace averaged 9.7 points per game to go with 5.3 rebounds per contest. Mace shot 60 percent from the field and 68 percent from the free throw line. Mace had a season-high 20 points in a loss to Anderson on Jan. 31, hitting nine of 10 shots from the field.
Rose-Hulman junior Dillon Reynolds saw his most extensive playing time of his Engineer career this season, coming off the bench to average 15 minutes per game. He tallied 5.6 ppg. this season and shot 91 percent from the free throw line.
Reynolds is a Civil Engineering major and was a dean's list nominee as well as a member of the American Society of Civil Engineers.