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COLLEGE WORLD SERIES

PREVIEW

DURANT’S

MVP HONORS

ZACH PETRICK: THE UNTOLD BASEBALL STORY

OF THE YEAR

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Carnell Moore CEO + PUBLISHER

Irene Farrimond EDITOR IN CHIEF

CONTRIBUTING STAFF: Ryan Wooden Kate Campbell

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THE LEADOFF ZACH PETRICK GOD & MAN AT CLEMSON MVP HONORS TRAVEL: MIAMI BRIAN RANDOLPH CHEERLEADER OF THE ISSUE PLAYER’S INK

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The road to Omaha starts now. The 2014 College World Series kicks off as 64 teams compete at 16 sites seeking a chance to play for it all.

the LEADOFF 6


BATON ROUGE 1. LSU 2. Houston 3. Bryant 4. Southeastern La.

CORVALLIS 1. Oregon St. 2. UNLV 3. UC Irvine 4. North Dakota St.

HOUSTON 1. Rice 2. Texas 3. Texas A&M 4. George Mason

OXFORD 1. Ole Miss 2. Washington 3. Georgia Tech 4. Jacksonville St.

BLOOMINGTON 1. Indiana 2. Indiana St. 3. Stanford 4. Youngstown St.

COLUMBIA 1. South Carolina 2. Maryland 3. Old Dominion 4. Campbell

LOUISVILLE 1. Louisville 2. Kentucky 3. Kansas 4. Kent St.

SAN LUIS OBISPO 1. Cal Poly 2. Arizona St. 3. Pepperdine 4. Sacramento St.

CHARLOTTESVILLE 1. Virginia 2. Arkansas 3. Liberty 4. Bucknell

FORT WORTH 1. TCU 2. Dallas Baptist 3. Sam Houston St. 4. Siena

LAFAYETTE 1. La.-Lafayette 2. Mississippi St. 3. San Diego St. 4. Jackson St.

STILLWATER 1. Oklahoma St. 2. Nebraska 3. Cal St. Fullerton 4. Binghamton

CORAL GABLES 1. Miami 2. Texas Tech 3. Columbia 4. Bethune-Cookman

GAINESVILLE 1. Florida 2. Long Beach St. 3. North Carolina 4. Col. of Charleston

NASHVILLE 1. Vanderbilt 2. Oregon 3. Clemson 4. Xavier

TALLAHASSEE 1. Florida St. 2. Alabama 3. Kennesaw St. 4. Ga. Southern

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the LEADOFF

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AND THEN THERE WERE TWO. It’s been a wild NBA playoffs so far. After countless buzzer-beaters, heartbreaking injuries, on and off the court drama and so much more, the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs prepare to face off with everything on the line. Photo courtesy of Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports

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Ragin’, Cajun - and winning. It was supposed to be a rebuilding year for head coach Michael Lotief and the rest of the Louisiana Lafayette softball team, but don’t count them out quite yet. The group, made up mostly of freshmen and sophomores, is making some noise in their sixth Women’s College World Series appearance. Loteif himself is an unlikely story, as the former lawyer was brought into the storied program by his wife, alumnae and former AllAmerican pitcher, Stefni Lotief. Photo courtesy of Brad Kemp / RaginCajuns.com. 10

We don’t see any difference between us and an SEC school or a bigger team like that. We don’t see ourselves like that. We know that we can compete with anybody in the country.” - NATALIE FERNANDEZ


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There always seem to be little things that you can grab and build on, and that’s what makes it so special to win a Stanley Cup. The stars have to align, and it’s great that those guys have the feeling that someone’s watching over them, and helping them out.”

- BRAD RICHARDS,

ON HIS NEW YORK RANGERS TEAMMATES REACHING THE STANLEY CUP FINALS 13


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YOU DON’T

KNOW

ZACH

PETRICK. BUT YOU SHOULD. The makeshift mound wasn’t exactly regulation. The backyard was a sloping hillside that ran away from their Morris, IL home towards the I&M Canal. However, it was 60 feet and 6 inches from rubber to plate, and on that expanse of hillside, Zach and Billy Petrick both learned how to pitch. The methodical, high leg-kicks with the pointed toe are clear influences of their father, Bill, who coached each of them through little league. However, the similarities stopped there, at least as far as pitching themselves into prospects would be concerned. STORY by RYAN WOODEN PHOTOS courtesy of ALLISON RHOADES / MEMPHIS REDBIRDS

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Five years younger than his brother, Zach was also a solid pitcher at Morris Community High School. However, as a right-hander with a fastball that topped out in the mid-toupper 80s and occasional control issues, he wouldn’t have the luxury of going pro out of high school. In college, he’d help lead Joliet Junior College to a national tournament appearance as a freshman, and he’d eventually go on to win an impressive 16 games in two seasons, earning himself the chance to continue his career at the University of Northwest Ohio, a brand new program in Lima, Oh. “When he got here, yes we were a new program, but we made sure we challenged him,” UNOH head coach Kory Hartman said. “This system challenges players to do the right thing, to value education, to lift and condition and have a program.” Pitching at an NAIA program, the chances for Zach to get recognized by professional scouts were few and far between, but St. Louis Cardinals area scout Brian Hopkins did take note of Petrick as a potential draftee at a showcase before his senior year. “I saw him in the middle of September at a small-school showcase and he threw well enough to garner interest. I spoke with his coach, who spoke very highly of him as a player and as a young man,” Hopkins told me after Petrick was originally signed in June of 2012. “I had him on my as a possible drafted player.” However, after a stellar final year at UNOH (he led the Racers to 31 wins in just their second year of existence and would finish his career with a 10-5 record and a 3.05 ERA), Zach listened to 40 rounds come and go without hearing his name called.

T

he roads that they traveled to get to professional baseball couldn’t have been more different.

As a senior in high school, Billy was already 6-6 and 240 lbs. He threw a fastball in the mid-90s and featured a power breaking-ball that devoured opposing high schoolers. In 2002, the Chicago Cubs made Billy the 93rd overall pick in the MLB Amateur Draft. He received a signing bonus of close to a half-million dollars and that summer he made his professional debut in the Arizona League. He was already a legitimate Major League prospect. In 2007, Billy found his way into the Majors, debuting in front of friends and family at home in Chicago. He’d pitch 7⅓ innings before being sent back down. Arm issues would never allow him to return to The Show, but Billy ultimately endured an impressive 11-year career in professional baseball. But, while Billy flew into professional baseball with the intensity of a passing comet, Zach took a more meandering route. 16

When he wasn’t selected, Petrick was devastated. He packed up his things and was hoping to head out to a tryout with an independent team when he got a phone call from Hopkins. “When we had a need for some pitchers after the draft, our scouting director asked for some guys we had interest in, and Zach was one of the guys I definitely had interest in,” Hopkins said.

[

After a stellar final year at UNOH (he led the Racers to 31 wins in just their second year of existence and would finish his career with a 10-5 record and a 3.05 ERA), Zach listened to 40 rounds come and go without hearing his name called.

“The phone call was unexpected, obviously,” Petrick said shortly after signing. “He told me they had an opening in Johnson City and asked me if I could head out the next day. I said, ‘Of course.’ So I packed up, did a couple interviews and got home at 10:30 that night before


hopping on a plane at 9:30 the next morning.” Outside Petrick’s childhood home, not too far from where Zach and Billy threw countless pitches from that makeshift mound, Linda Petrick waited outside the house for her husband Bill to come home. She wasn’t sure if he knew that Zach had been signed yet. When he pulled up in his utility van and dug a Cardinals hat out of the back, it was all smiles. In Johnson City, Zach competed from Day One, eventually earning his way into the starting rotation, finishing the short season with a 5-0 record and a 2.17 ERA, earning himself another year to prove himself in the Cardinals system. At spring training, his goal was to make a full-season affiliate, and he did exactly that, landing just a few hours from home in Peoria. For a couple of months, Petrick was dominant in the Midwest League, posting a 0.83 ERA and earning seven saves before being moved up to Palm Beach, the High-A affiliate. In Palm Beach, he was even better. He was flawless out of the bullpen to start his stay in Florida, and he was eventually moved into the rotation, posting a 0.27 ERA in 33 ⅓ innings before being promoted once again, this time to Double-A Springfield. By the end of the season, Petrick had amassed a 7-3 record with a 1.99 ERA, a 1.024 WHIP and 122 strikeouts in just 113 ⅓ innings. His incredible progression through the system earned him Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors for the organization and going into this third year

(second full season) of professional baseball, Zach Petrick had done enough to earn himself an invitation to Big League camp. In an organization loaded with talented young pitchers, Zach had carved out a role for himself and he’s now considered a legit prospect just like Billy. MiLB.com ranked him as the 17th best prospect in the Cardinals system. Major League spring training offered its challenges and, as expected, Petrick was eventually sent back to minor league camp to get in more work, eventually breaking camp as the ace of the Springfield staff. After three starts, in which Petrick only relinquished a single earned run, Petrick earned a promotion to the Triple-A Memphis Redbirds. There he sits, waiting for an opportunity to break into the Big Leagues just as his brother did seven years ago. On May 20, Zach made his sixth start in Memphis and it was his best to date. The 24-year old threw seven scoreless innings, giving up just three hits along the way. And while the Cards battle injuries, Petrick remains a viable option for a call-up sometime in 2014. That’s not surprising when you consider what he’s doing, but it is when you consider where he’s been. For Zach, unlike his brother Billy, it’s been a long road from that jury-rigged mound out back of his childhood home to where he is today. He’s one step away from the majors, and that, in and of itself, is truly remarkable.

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[ ] FAN PHOTOS

photos courtesy of (from left to right) bleacherreport.com, forbes.com, weatherbird.tumblr.com, newsvine.com, globeandmail.com

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We love seeing your fan photos! Send pictures to editor@premierplayers.com and you might see them in the next issue!


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“My dream was to become a rec league coach. That’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to stay home and help the kids out.”

MVP

HONORS In his emotional, meaningful, and sometimes tearful acceptance speech, Kevin Durant thanks his teammates, his organizations, and most of all, his mother. To his mother: “One my best memories I have is when we moved into our first apartment. No bed, no furniture, we all just sat in the living room and just hugged each other. We thought we made it. … You wake me up in the middle of the night in the summertime, making me run up a hill, making me do pushups. Screaming at me from the sidelines of my games at eight or nine years old … When you didn’t eat, you made sure we ate. You went to sleep hungry. You sacrificed for us. You’re the real MVP.” To his coaches: “I know there’s days you look at that film and want to kill me. Not playing defense, taking bad shots, getting too many techs. But you always believe that I can be the guy, through the tough times, you guys never left my side.” To teammate Russell Westbrook: “I know you guys think I forgot Russ. I can speak all night about Russell. An emotional guy who will run through a wall for me. I don’t take him for granted. There’s days I just want to tackle you and tell you to snap out of it sometimes, but I know there are days that you want to do the same to me. I love you, man, I love you. A lot of people put unfair criticism on you as a player. I’m the first to have your back through it all. Stay the person you are, everybody loves you here. I love you. … You’re an MVP caliber player, it’s a blessing to play with you.” 21


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miami

PLAY. WATCH. EAT. SLEEP. 23


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welcome to

miami WATCH Miami Heat nba.com/heat Florida Marlins marlins.mlb.com Miami Dolphins miamidolphins.com Florida Panthers panthers.nhl.com Miami FC miamiunitedsoccer.com Miami Hurricanes hurricanesports.com PLAY Golf Golf Club At Shula’s Hotel & Golf Club Crandon Golf Key Biscayne Normandy Shores Golf Club Redland Golf & Country Club Fishing Kelley Fishing Fleet Haulover Park South Pointe Park Bill Bird Marina Scuba Diving Emerald Reef Half Moon Neptune Memorial Reef Ophelia Brian EAT NAOE naoemiami.com Fratelli Milano ristorantefratellimilano.com Versailles Restaurant versaillesrestaurant.com Azul Restaurant mandarinoriental.com/miami SLEEP Hampton Inn & Suites hamptoninnmiamibrickell.com EPIC Hotel epichotel.com Hotel Urbano hotelurbano.com 25


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BRIAN RANDOLPH: COMMUNITY DRIVEN

When Brian Randolph committed to the University of Tennessee to play football, message boards didn’t explode with people excited about getting an intelligent, service-dedicated young man who would represent the university honorably. The fact that Randolph, a heavily-recruited three-star recruit, was Georgia’s Class 4A Defensive Player of the Year and an able-bodied playmaking safety at a position of desperate need seemed to dominate the conversation. However, while Randolph’s talents have quickly made him a household name in Tennessee, quietly, the fourth-year junior safety is making a name for himself as an engaging young man who has taken pride in giving back to the community that has embraced his talents. When Randolph came to Tennessee out of Kell High School in Marietta, Georgia, he was thrust into the same position that was occupied two seasons earlier by Eric Berry, a beloved former Vol turned NFL Pro Bowler who was also extremely active in the community. On the field, Randolph broke into the starting lineup as a freshman, making 55 tackles and playing in all 12 of the team’s game (starting eight). As a sophomore, he was leading the team in tackles before a seasonending injury forced him to take a redshirt year. After a difficult rehab, Randolph returned in 2013 and reclaimed his starting spot, collecting 75 tackles and intercepting four passes. Off the field, Brian Randolph is proving every day that his talents extend beyond the football field. In 2012 and 2013 he was a member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Like several other football players, he’s taken an active role in Habitat for Humanity projects. This February, he and three teammates accompanied head coach Butch Jones to the Salute to Excellence banquet, a fundraising effort that supports the

Tennessee Fund, which helps raise money to support UT athletics. Several sources close to the program listed Randolph along with quarterback Justin Worley and wide receiver Marquez North as the most active within the community. Yet, if you were to Google Brian Randolph in an effort to find what charitable endeavors he’s involved with, you’ll find nothing. That’s because Randolph isn’t simply padding his resume, hoping to get a couple photo ops in front of the media in an effort to pretty up his image for his post-graduate plans - plans that likely include the NFL, mind you. It’s because he’s genuinely interested in lending a helping hand and making an impact on a place that he’s made his home. When Brian Randolph came from Marietta, Georgia, he wasn’t heralded for his ability to show up at a construction site on a random Sunday to build a home for an impoverished family. However, when his time is done in at Tennessee, Knoxville may remember him first and foremost as a good person. And that’s saying something when you consider he’s an NFL caliber safety in a football-crazed town. STORY by RYAN WOODEN PHOTO by REED CARRINGER

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[INK] PLAYER’S

For Tyler Seguin of the Dallas Stars, tattoos are a family affair. The center has his entire family tree and crest tattooed on emblazoned on his left arm. “It’s important to me,” said Seguin. “It reminds me every day of the things that are important to me. It’s a part of me. I haven’t really been home since I was 15, so it’s nice to carry this with me every day.”

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GOD & MAN AT CLEMSON

“I believe that the duel between Christianity and atheism is the most important in the world”, God and Man at Yale: The Superstitions of “Academic Freedom” (1951) By: William F Buckley Jr. In 1951, William F. Buckley released a revolutionary book and launched a career as the father of modern conservatism. In it, he not only spotlights the move away of Ivy League schools, like his alma mater Yale, from their Christian roots to liberalism; he illustrates the open and growing hostility towards Christianity under the cover of academic freedom. My purpose is not to debate the merits of conservative vs. liberalism (aka progressives), who is right, who is wrong. There are times when liberals have been right and conservatives have been wrong. The point here is that Buckley spotlighted the issue of 60 years ago, there’s been a forward, march by progressives where, despite holding the mantle of tolerance and freedom of expression, conservative viewpoints have been all but extinguished from our educational system. Christians, in particular, have been more and more marginalized, suppressed and limited over the course of time from the “tolerance” crowd. Enter the recent headlines last week where the Freedom From Religion Foundation (from Wisconsin) filed a formal complaint against the Clemson football program filed a formal complaint suggesting head coach Dabo Swinney leads the football program against the constitutional stipulations of the separation of church and state, The Greenville News reports. Never mind that no player, current or former, and no parent, current or former, has raised any issues with Swinney’s program. Never mind that as Clemson chief public affairs officer Cathy Sams told The Greenville News when asked about the complaint. “No one is required to participate in any religious activities related to the football program. It’s purely voluntary. Religion and faith is a big part of Coach Swinney’s personal beliefs, but it is in no way required. There is no mandatory participation.” As someone in sports ministry, I understand and respect what we can do, what we cannot do and when we can and cannot do it. I respect the constitution and the separation between church and state. I also believe in freedom and

in giving students a choice whether or not to participate in studies and devotions that are, in essence, characterbuilding opportunities for our young men and women. In this day and age, with all the problems and temptations on high school and college campuses, we need more opportunities, not less, for our students to come voluntarily to develop core values like character, integrity, team work and service to others. Values to teach our young people to be successful not only on the playing field, but in the game of life! What I’ve seen personally in South Metro Atlanta is lines between geography, race, ethnicity and income levels erased by sports ministry. I’ve seen young men and women develop character and have a safe place in campus ministry to come and weep in sharing their struggles. I’ve seen the culture of teams and campuses changed for the better. I’ve seen coaches and teachers become father figures and mentors for students and athletes with that void in their life. I’ve seen solid relationships built black and white rival coaches who otherwise wouldn’t have a connection. Ultimately I’ve seen young people better prepared for life because the commitment of coaches like Dabo Swinney who see the big picture and care about their players beyond their athletic ability and long after their playing careers end. Tolerance and respect extends beyond only being tolerant of those whose belief system is similar to your own. We can, and should, learn from one another. Although we may never firmly agree with what others believe, we should never suppress those belief systems that are different, in particular when they are being expressed in a voluntary format.

Bill is on staff with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and a Deacon at Eagles Landing FBC in McDonough, GA. He lives in Locust Grove with his wife Amy and their three children. You can follow Bill on Facebook, Twitter @ billrenje and learn more about him at his website www. achosenbullet.com

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a c i s s e J

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER GIRL

One goal you want to accomplish in your life: I’d love to be in a country music video!! Favorite Dancing Song: “Wobble” by V.I.C. Words to live by: “Keep smiling, because life is a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” -Marilyn Monroe Quirky Habit: I chew gum all day at work. 30


Bringing Friends Together

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May 2014

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June 2014 issue