Want to get a little fresh air and enjoy some of the best high school baseball and softball in Oklahoma? One thing is for certain: You won’t have to waste much time driving.

We’re spoiled by our ultra-successful high school programs. Our gyms display more gold than Mr. T.

No doubt, high schools in the Ada Evening News readership area have made our region a hotbed of baseball and softball powerhouses. We always have some of the top teams in the Sooner State, but this year is ridiculous.

The area has 12 teams in the Top 10 in various classes, according to the latest Coach’s rankings. And the Ada Cougars (No. 11 in Class 5A baseball) and the Stonewall Lady Longhorns (No. 12 in Class 2A softball) are just out of the top 10. Wow!

The elite softball squads include No. 6 Tupelo (Class A); No. 3 Roff and No. 12 Stonewall (Class 2A); No. 3 Konawa and No. 4 Latta (Class 4A), and No. 5 Byng (Class 5A).

The elite baseball nines include No. 2 Tupelo (Class B); No. 4 Roff, No. 8 Allen and No. 10 Stonewall (Class A); No. 6 Latta and No. 7 Coalgate (Class 2A); No. 2 Byng (Class 4A), and No. 11 Ada (Class 5A).

That’s impressive, I don’t care who are you are! All I can say is “Get ‘er done!”

By the way, we have at least three locals who are playing Division I baseball: Ada’s Chucky Caufield is making a name for himself in center field for the Oklahoma Sooners, and Justin Colbert and Keanon Simon, Allen High grads, are on the OSU Cowboys’ squad.

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All in the family

Speaking of Justin Colbert, he has some very athletic genes. His dad Larry was one of the best athletes in Mustang history, and mom Paula Kim was a dynamo on the basketball court. And grandfather, Bud Young, was a three-sport star at AHS back in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He later was signed as a pitcher for the New York Yankess and won a record 18 straight victories at one point for the Yanks’ farm club, the McAlester Rockets. Oh yeah, Justin’s grandmother Katie was also an outstanding athlete.

Speaking of Allen, I get tired of people saying we Allenites are all related. That’s not true. There’s at least five people in town I’m not kin to.

The Colbert bloodline is impressive, but there’s others in the community that straddles the Pontotoc-Hughes County line. We’ve got the brothers Wofford, Brad and Chuck. I don’t know which one was the best, but I’d take them both on any team I had. Of course, there’s my Tillery boys, Keith and Chad.

But without a doubt, there’s one family that has produced more stars than any other. When you take the Postoaks, Walkers and Stephenses, you have more all-stars than you can shake with a stick. And the athletic family also includes the Johnson boys from Ada.

People who say Allenites are all related are just jealous.

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Clean off the trophy shelf

Once again, the curator of the Prediction and Fantasy Hall of Fame is upset with me.

It looks like he’ll have to enlarge the popular “Leo Kelley Exhibit” again.

If projections go to form, Kelley will take home the 2006 NCAA Basketball Tournament Prediction championship.

Unfortunately, our renowned sports editor has once again been denied his first title in the new millennium. That ain’t right! The Big Fella doesn’t deserve it. Those long-suffering Caliites are struggling through the worst depression since the Dust Bowl 1930s.

Jeff isn’t snake-bitten — he’s python-bitten (after his hero Hulk Hogan, he of the “pythons” for arms).

“Let me tell you one thing, brother!” the Hulkster screamed over the phone Friday. “My boy, Jeff Cali, may be having a run of bad luck, but he’ll be back, brother! You can take that to the bank!” (I could hear him ripping his T-shirt to shreds).

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Cali’s proposed trades are ‘Fantasy’

It’s the final week of March, which means Sports Editor Jeff Cali is wheeling and dealing in the Fantasy Baseball Leagues.

The Big Guy is famed for his legendary trade offers.

He’ll make offers such as his shortstop Craig Counsel for Albert Pujols, Or Carmen Cali (the struggling Cardinal reliever and his distant cousin) for A-Rod. My grandmother would even reject those ludicrous offers.

I want to predict a championship for Jeff this year, but the Big Fella made history last year when he come up short with a lineup consisting of Pujols, A-Rod, Derrick Lee, Adam Dunn and Derek Jeter. The National Fantasy Association took his playing card away (Somehow, he got it back!).

Don’t worry, the Jeff will eventually get up off the deck. It’ll all come together. Craig Counsel and his slow-footed, sore-armed cousin will have career years and all will be forgiven by the NFA.

Wait a minute! I just received an e-mail. It was the Big guy offering Dmitri Young (the Meat Hook) for Mark Teixeira. You have to admit at least he’s predictable.

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B-Ball needs some changin’

There’s been a few changes during the past century or so since Dr. James Naismith invented the game of basketball and its 13 rules. Naismith was the physical education instructor at Springfield (Mass.) College in the 1890s when he thought his students needed an indoor activity for when the weather prevented outside activities.

So, after a dream about Dolly Parton, Naismith ordered a janitor named Cali (or was it Kelley?) to nail up peach baskets on the wall at each end of the gym. Cali thought Naismith had a screw loose, but quit asking questions after they raised his salary to 15 cents an hour.

Naismith may have had his office wall covered with diplomas, but it was the hard-working, low-paid Cali who decided the game would move along faster if he removed the bottom of the baskets so the ball would fall through. Cali was later docked two-weeks’ pay after suggesting the Springfield women’s squad play shirts and skins in a scrimmage.

Certainly, today’s players are superior athletes. On Naismith’s first team, his club-footed 6-3 center had to climb a ladder to dunk (and the goal was only eight-foot tall).

Today’s game has changed — some for good, some not.

First, the good. Coaches today are discouraged from slapping the Converse out of their players and from questioning whether you had a “real” father after you had pulled a bonehead play on the court. Those revolutionary changes, unfortunately, were put on the book a few decades to late for me.

Also, I absolutely support the double elimination playoff system in today’s high school game. If you get run off the floor twice, you have no gripes.

I’d even like to see the NCAA Tournament go to this format. Take the top 32 teams, leave the slugs and stiffs at home in the NIT where they belong and have a double elimination tourney for the national championship. That would be cool!

Of course, there’s few changes that make my skin crawl.

When we won back in the day, our coach would buy us a case of beer and make us promise we’d never tell. I’m pretty sure that old tradition has passed on.

Another change that is ludicrous is the 3-point line. Take that stupid thing out of the game! Most of today’s kids can’t hit 50 percent from the free throw line with nobody guarding them. But they can’t wait to throw up bricks from beyond the arc. Get rid of that line or move it back where coaches will put their foot you know where if their players shoot from downtown.

And what about college basketball? Move that line back about 10 feet. My grandmother could hit from where it’s at now (Granny had a wicked one-handed, fall-away jumper).

Speaking of the NCAA Tournament, what ever happened to “get a hand in their face.” Why in the world do coaches let opponents hit wide-open 3-pointer after 3-pointer? In the old days, you got to sit by the coach when your man was wide open.

It all goes back to the ludicrous zone defense. It should be outlawed. You think Bobby Knight would let his squad be caught dead playing a zone?

Actually, Naismith is the one who came up with the zone.

“I had the dumbest, laziest bunch of clod-hoppers you’ve ever seen in ought-eight (1908),” the roundball genius wrote in his memoirs, “Wish I’d Left the Peaches in the Basket.” “They couldn’t remember who they were supposed to be guarding, so I had to just put ‘em in one spot and have them hold their hands up like a banker with Jessie James.”

Get rid of those stupid, moronic zone defenses and play the game how it was intended. Put ‘em man-on-man and it’s simple to determine who can or can’t play defense.

Speaking of a joke, OU made their annual one-game trip to the NCAA Tournament. Just think, the over-rated Sooners took a spot away from a team that really deserved to be there.

When will Kelvin Sampson learn? The Sooners’ cupcake schedule didn’t help anything. All it does every year is guarantee Sampson a 20-win season. OU fans should demand they play someone other than Arkansas Tech or Norfolk State next season. If they don’t, the selection committee should leave them home next year and let someone who deserves a spot go. What could the Sooners have done with Sheldon Williams at center this year?

Know the difference between men’s and women’s college basketball? The OU women played before the whopping crowd of 2,000 in first-round action in the NCAA Tournament. They were giving away tickets a couple of hours before the game. (About 500 spectators paid to get in).

The only time I’ve ever watched women’s basketball is when former Ada Lady Cougars Caufield and Caton Hill were leading OU.

But OU dynamic freshman Courtney Paris has me tuning in again.

The future looks bright for the Lady Sooners, but they’re not going to challenge for a national championship this year. As soon as the Sooners run into someone who can control Paris, it’s over. Too much standing around by OU’s other players who are waiting for Paris to do it all. And their outside game produces more bricks than a factory.

Other ridiculous things that should be stopped in basketball:

• Get rid of those outlandish time outs called as a player is in mid-air, falling out of bounds. When did that get started?

• Something has to be done about all the fouling in the closing minutes of ball games. Give the team the option of shooting free throws or taking the ball out of bounds. Referees could prevent this nonsense by calling intentional fouls which gives two free throws and the ball back. If your team gets behind in a game, that’s tough — you lose.

• Why in the world do players (high school, college) pick up their dribble and get in trouble? That costs teams two or three time outs a game.

• One thing that will never change: Losing teams will always blame the officiating. Kids should be taught to take responsibility when they fail, not to blame others — it could come in handy later in their lives after basketball.

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