Newby takes grand stage: Soldotna graduate on tap to throw in Caribbean Series

Posted: Friday, February 04, 2011

Soldotna graduate Joey Newby is on the Puerto Rico roster for the Caribbean Series and most likely will get a chance to pitch this weekend.

"They have him penciled in for Sunday," said Jim Newby of Soldotna, the father of the 2000 Soldotna graduate.

On Sunday, Puerto Rico is scheduled to play Mexico.

The Caribbean Series, which includes many players on Major League 40-man rosters, is the latest stop for Newby, 28, as he tries to make his way to the Major Leagues.

The path got more difficult for Newby after he was released by the Oakland Athletics after three years in their minor league system. The A's released Newby right after he tore a ligament in his pitching arm.

The A's paid for Newby to have surgery, and after a year of rehabilitation, Newby spent the 2009 season bouncing around the Seattle Mariners minor league system, evening getting a chance to pitch for the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers. He pitched 6 1-3 innings there and had a 1.42 ERA with five walks and four strikeouts.

Newby became a free agent after the 2009 season, and pitched in 2010 for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. The independent league has players who used to play in the Major Leagues, as well as experienced minor leaguers.

Newby pitched 112 2-3 innings for the Blue Crabs, going 6-5 with a 2.48 ERA.

In late December, Newby got a chance to play in the Puerto Rican league. He was a starter for the Criollos de Caguas, who won the regular season and the playoffs.

In the Puerto Rican championship series, Newby got the start in Game 6, when the Caguas needed a win over Ponce to force Game 7. Newby went 4 1-3 innings and gave up just one run to help the Caguas to a 7-2 victory. In the previous game, Bartolo Colon, who recently signed a minor league deal with the Yankees, went seven innings and gave up three runs against Ponce.

"It was the biggest stage he's even been on," Jim Newby said of his son.

That sets Joey Newby up for an even bigger stage this weekend in the Caribbean Series.

Nikiski's Thompson breaks ground for Lourdes

Nikiski graduate Hannah Thompson played this year for the first athletic team to ever compete for Lourdes College in Sylvania, Ohio.

Lourdes has been around for 52 years as a college, but did not offer athletics until this year. The school added women's volleyball as well as men's and women's golf.

After two seasons at Northern Idaho College, Thompson transferred to Lourdes to be a part of history.

"It was an honor to be asked to be a part of an inaugural team and be a part of the college's athletic history," Thompson said in a statement released by the school.

Thompson led the team with 797 assists as the team finished 21-17 as an independent member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics. At Nikiski, Thompson was an outside hitter. That past experience served her well as she played that position several times early in the season.

Thompson said that ending with a winning record was an accomplishment against teams that had been together for years.

"Our team is the closest team that I have ever been on," she said. "Off the court, we are as close as sisters. It's not just a handful of us that are close; it's literally all of us that are close."

Lourdes got off to a quick start, going 3-1 on a season-opening road trip and then winning its home opener. Thompson was named to two all-tournament teams during the course of the season.

Thompson is now looking forward to her senior season with the Gray Wolves.

"I didn't really know what to expect when I moved to Ohio," she said. "I didn't think we'd be as successful as we were since we were a completely new team."

Skyview's Hutchison loses in finals

Skyview graduate Michaela Hutchison lost in the finals of the Women's College Wrestling Association championships on Saturday in Atherton, Calif., coming up short in her quest for an individual three-peat.

Hutchison's trip to the finals helped Oklahoma City University secure its third-straight national championship, though. The Stars also won the academic award.

In the finals at 121 pounds, Hutchison, a junior, fell to Helen Maroulis of Simon Fraser. Hutchison lost the first round 7-1 before forcing a third round with a 2-1 victory in the second round. Fraser edged Hutchison 2-1 in the final round.

The matchup featured a pair of trail breakers in women's wrestling. As a sophomore at Skyview, Hutchison became the first girl to win a high school state title when wrestling against boys, a feat matched by Kenai Central's Hope Steffensen in December.

Maroulis, meanwhile, won the 2009 U.S. Nationals and, at 17, made the 2008 U.S. World Team.

Hutchison started her day with two pins before advancing to the finals by defeating Shauna Isbell of Lindenwood 7-0, 3-1.

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