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Sports Notes: Former Cat Reed, Legends’ O’Hearn could soon find themselves moving

Lexington Legends first baseman Ryan O'Hearn led all Kansas City minor leaguers in batting average last year and he is the top home run hitter in the South Atlantic League this season (Erin Grigson Photo)

Lexington Legends first baseman Ryan O’Hearn led all Kansas City minor leaguers in batting average last year and he is the top home run hitter in the South Atlantic League this season (Erin Grigson Photo)


A pair of Class A first basemen with Kentucky ties are having a major impact on their respective teams through the first half of the Minor League seasons and are playing well enough that they might both soon move up to the next ring on the ladder that could lead to the Big Leagues.

Former University of Kentucky star A.J. Reed, the consensus 2014 NCAA Player of the Year, and Lexington Legend Ryan O’Hearn, a former eighth-round pick by the Royals and last year’s Pioneer League Most Valuable Player, are leading their respective leagues in home runs and both will make All-Star Game appearances Tuesday.

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Reed is playing for the Lancaster JetHawks in the Class A Advanced California League and after a slow start, he is leading all batters with 18 home runs, 65 runs batted in, 50 walks and a remarkable 1.058 on-base plus slugging percentage. At the conclusion of the first half of the season, he was hitting .335, second in the league. And this comes after he batted just .208 over 20 games in April to open the season.

The second-round pick is probably looking at a promotion to Double A in the Astros’ farm system and, in addition to playing in the California League All-Star game, he is likely under strong consideration for the Futures Game, which features the best of the Minor Leagues playing in conjunction with All-Star Weekend festivities, which are set for Cincinnati and will culminate with the July 14 Major League All-Star Game at Great American Ball Park.

Former Reds Tony Perez and Ken Griffey Sr. will serve as managers for the game, which will be played on July 12.

O’Hearn, who led the Pioneer League last year in batting at .361 (the highest in the Royals’ system), had 13 home runs in a 70-game schedule to go with 54 RBI. He’s picked up where he left off with the Legends this year.

O’Hearn’s total of 16 home runs in 65 games is five more than anyone else at the break and his 40 RBI rank fourth in the South Atlantic League. He’s hitting .262 with a .488 slugging percentage and an OBPS rate of .813. Perhaps the only fly in the ointment are his 70 strikeouts, which ties him for third most in the league.

O’Hearn could soon find himself in the Class A Advanced Carolina League, where the Royals’ affiliate is the Wilmington Blue Rocks.

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The SAL All-Star game will be played at McCormick Field in Asheville, North Carolina Tuesday night and joining O’Hearn from the Legends will be outfielders Alfredo Escalera and Elier Hernandez along with pitchers Pedro Fernandez and Zach Lovvorn. O’Hearn and Hernandez will be in the starting lineup.

Pitcher Matt Strahm also made the team, but he has been promoted to Wilmington. The Legends open the second half of the season Thursday night in Savannah.

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Two University of Kentucky athletes have been nominated for the 1015 NCAA Woman of the Year Award.

The award honors graduating female college athletes who have enjoyed distinguished collegiate careers, combining academics, athletics, service and leadership. UK’s nominees are track and field All-American Kendra Harrison and softball captain Griffin Joiner.

Harrison and Joiner are two of 480 female student-athletes – the most ever in the 25-year history of the program – who were nominated. The NCAA encourages member schools to honor its top graduating female student-athletes each year by submitting their names for consideration for the Woman of the Year award.

The initial list of nominees will be shorted when each conference represented assess each nominee’s eligibility and selects up to two conference nominees. All conference nominees are forwarded to the Woman of the Year selection committee, which chooses the top 30 honorees – 10 from each division. From the top 30, the selection committee determines the top three nominees from each division and announces the top nine finalists in September.

The NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics then chooses from those nine to determine the 2015 NCAA Woman of the Year and the winner will be announced at the annual award ceremony Oct. 18 in Indianapolis.

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Western Kentucky senior Chioma Agwunobi earned Conference USA Female Track Athlete of the Year honors following her standout sprinting season.

The Toppers women’s program has had a track or field conference performer of the year in eight consecutive seasons under head coach Erik Jenkins: Jessica Ramsey (2013-14 field), Monteka Flowers (2011-12 field), Janet Jesang (2008, 2010 track) and Valerie Brown (2009 track) were all named Sun Belt Conference Most Outstanding Performers in the previous seven seasons.

Agwunobi was the first WKU female to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in multiple sprinting events. She was the lone female athlete in Conference USA to qualify for nationals in two individual events and was one of 11 sprinters nationally to advance to the NCAA Championships in both the 100 and 200-meter dashes.

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Kandi (Brown) Parker, an Olive Hill native who is among the top women’s basketball players in school history, and Jim Wells, a lifelong Morehead resident who made significant contributions as a coach, administrator and supporter, will be inducted into the Morehead State Athletic Hall of Fame during homecoming weekend in October.

Parker was a four-year starter (2000-04) who still ranks first in Ohio Valley Conference history and third in NCAA Division I history, in free throw percentage at 91.5 percent. She was a second-team All-OVC selection her junior and senior seasons and won the league’s 2003-04 Steve Hamilton Award, which honors significant athletics performance, good sportsmanship and citizenship.

Wells spent nearly 40 years in direct association with Morehead State. In addition to working in the school’s public information and sports information offices, Wells served as an assistant softball coach in 1990 before leading the Eagles to a then school-record 32 wins as head coach in 1991. The victory record stood until 2008. After his brief coaching stint, Wells served 17 more years (1991-2008) in athletic administration, holding a number of titles in compliance and educational services.

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