The month of April was the home stretch of the spring sports season for local student-athletes looking to secure region and state playoff berths in their respective sports. April 2008 also ushered in a new era for the Spalding High football team.
On April 1, the local school board approved Clint Ashmore to become the third head coach in the modern era of Spalding High School. Ashmore was head coach at Forest Park in 1996, head coach at McIntosh from 1997-1999 and the offensive coordinator at Jackson before taking over at Spalding. Ashmore replaced Tommy Gilstrap, who stepped down for personal reasons.
Also on April 1, the Griffin Lady Bears soccer team blanked Mundy’s Mill 11-0 in the tuneup for the upcoming Region 4-AAAA tournament. Kristen Gregory and Hannah Brown had three goals apiece and Mary Kathryn Willis scored two goals in the win, which was the Lady Bears’ 11th shutout of the season. The Spalding girls soccer team didn’t want to be left out of the shutout party, so they went out and beat Jackson 5-0. Lauren Barlow and Sara Nicholson had two goals each in the win.
On April 2, the Griffin boys and girls tennis teams clinched trips to the Region 4-AAAA tournament by beating Riverdale 5-0. The Griffin girls tennis team, led by Lauren Hill, Amy Davis and Mary Louise Hill, was the No. 1 seed in the tournament. In pro sports, Mark Teixeira hit a two-run homer and Yunel Escobar hit a three-run shot as the Atlanta Braves won their first game of the season, a 10-2 home win over the Pittsburgh Pirates to up their record to 1-2.
On April 3, the Spalding boys and girls tennis teams swept Ola High to claim the Region 4-AAA North champiosnhips. The Lady Jags won 15 subregion matches in a row.
On April 5, a record 21 sports figures from soccer players to journalists were enshrined in the Griffin Spalding County Athletic Hall of Fame, which was founded and owned by the late Bill Beck III. The previous record was 11 sports figures.
On April 7, the Kansas Jayhawks defeated the Memphis Tigers 75-68 in overtime to win the 2008 National Championship in San Antonio. Kansas guard Mario Chalmers’ trey with 2.1 seconds left in regulation sent the game to overtime and the Jayhawks took over in the extra period.
On April 8, the Griffin Lady Bears soccer team defeated Westside-Macon 3-1 in first-round Region 4-AAAA Tournament action at Memorial Stadium to clinch a berth in the Class AAAA state playoffs. Hannah Brown scored two goals in the victory. In collegiate sports, Candace Parker’s 17 points and nine rebounds helped the Tennessee Lady Volunteers win the 2008 Women’s National Championship with a 64-48 drubbing of Stanford. It was Tennessee’s eighth national championship.
On April 9, the Spalding baseball team defeated Woodland-Stockbridge 12-1 in five innings, due to the 10-run mercy rule.
On April 10, the Griffin baseball team run-ruled Forest Park for the second time, blasting the Panthers 15-0 in four innings. The Bears blanked Forest Park 14-0 on March 26.
On APRIL 11, the Spalding girls soccer team defeated Perry 4-1 behind two goals by Patricia-Anne Upson to finish undefeated in their subregion at 10-0. The 9th-ranked Lady Jags won their 12th consecutive game. Across town at Griffin High, the Lady Bears soccer team lost a heartbreaking 2-1 contest against Upson-Lee in the region semifinals.
On April 14, the Atlanta Hawks clinched a spot in the NBA playoffs for the first time since the 1998-99 season when the Indiana Pacers lost to the Washington Wizards. The Hawks clinched the 8th and final seed in the Eastern Conference.
On April 15, the Spalding girls soccer team ended the regular season on a high note, defeating Pike County 1-0 for its 13th straight win. Patricia-Anne Upson scored the only goal of the evening.
On April 16, Griffin pitchers Greg Fietsam and Telvin Nash combined to throw a no-hitter as the Bears defeated Riverdale 10-0. Tim Beckham and Xavier Randolph hit back-to-back homers in the second inning for a 5-0 lead.
On April 17, the Spalding girls tennis team won its fourth consecutive Region 4-AAA title after defeating West Laurens 4-1 in Macon. Emily Turner, Sarah Turner and Caroline Dallas all won their singles matches for Spalding.
On April 21, the Griffin baseball team crushed Lovejoy 15-0 for its ninth consecutive victory and the Region 4-AAAA North championship while the Griffin girls soccer team lost to Whitewater 9-0 in the first round of the state playoffs. Also on that day, the Spalding Lady Jaguars track team qualified for five events in the state meet during the opening day of the Region 4-AAA meet at Peach County.
On April 22, the Spalding golf team won its third Region 4-AAA title in the last four years in Jackson, thanks in part to freshman Henry Mabbett’s low-medalist 70. The Spalding girls track team finished second in the Region 4-AAA meet on that day. In pro sports, Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz recorded his 3,000th strikeout in a 6-0 loss to the Washington Nationals. Smoltz struck out Felipe Lopez in the third inning to earn the honor.
On April 24, the Griffin girls tennis team was swept by Northgate in the first round of the state AAAA playoffs and the Spalding boys soccer team was eliminated in the first round of the state playoffs by 9th-ranked Hardaway.
On April 25, the Spalding girls soccer team blanked Hardaway 4-0 in the first round of the Class AAA state tournament at Memorial Stadium. Sara Nicholson scored two goals in the win.
On April 26, the Atlanta Falcons started a new era by drafting Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan with the third pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. That same night, Al Horford’s 17 points, 14 rebounds and six assists led the Atlanta Hawks to an upset of the Boston Celtics in Game 3 of the NBA playoffs.
On April 28, Joe Johnson’s 35 points, including 20 in the fourth quarter, helped the Atlanta Hawks even their series with the Celtics at two with a 97-92 victory.
On April 29, the Spalding girls tennis team defeated Worth County 5-0 to advance to the state AAA Elite 8 while the Griffin baseball team defeated Westside-Macon in the Region 4-AAAA tournament to clinch a berth in the Class AAAA state playoffs.
The Spalding Lady Jags girls soccer team ends the month on a high note, defeating Thomson 8-0 at Memorial Stadium to advance to the AAA Elite 8 on April 30. Patricia-Anne Upson scored two goals and had two assists.