Originally created 03/01/05

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High School Baseball

Evans opens season first in Class AAAA

Evans earned the preseason No. 1 ranking in the latest Gasports.com Class AAAA baseball coaches poll.

"It is a nice thing coming from your peers," Evans coach Ricky Beale said. "It makes you feel good other coaches think that highly of your kids and your program."

The Knights open the season on Thursday against Hephzibah. The season opener intended for Monday night was postponed because of rain. Greenbrier and Lakeside are the fifth and seventh-ranked teams in the same poll, respectively.

Beale is indifferent about the ranking in a wide-open race this year. Columbus, last year's Class AAAA champion, has dropped down to Class AAA for the 2005 and 2006 seasons.

"Right now we cannot worry about the rankings," Beale said. "We have a lot to do this year to attain that ranking and now everyone will be gunning for us."

Other teams ranked in the coaches poll include Washington County, ranked No. 10 in Class AAA and Swainsboro, No. 9 in Class AA.

Softball

Pacers split soggy home doubleheader

USC Aiken used a six-run fourth inning for a 9-1 victory in Game 2 of a doubleheader on Monday over Lake Superior State to gain a split. JoAnn Jones allowed four hits over six innings, while Sarah Harvey went 3-for-3.

The Pacers (8-4) lost Game 1,

6-4, allowing all six runs in the final three innings.

Karlee Haynes' first-inning homer and Kelly Ford's bases-loaded double brought in the USC Aiken runs.

College Baseball

Jaguars' drop small after struggles

Despite a 1-2 week and the end of catcher Sam Barth's NCAA-record hitting streak, Augusta State fell only two places in the national poll released Monday.

The Jaguars (10-5, 4-4 Peach Belt) fell from a tie for 11th to 13th in the weekly voting by Collegiate Baseball magazine. Augusta State is one of eight conference teams ranked in the top 30; USC Aiken is in the No. 30 spot on the heels of its best start in a decade.

Augusta State's suspended game against Francis Marion was not completed and will not be rescheduled. Its earlier rainout against Anderson will now be played Wednesday, April 13 at 3 p.m.

Golf

Euros lean toward Woosnam, Faldo

Ian Woosnam and Nick Faldo might be picked this week as Europe's Ryder Cup captains: the Welshman for 2006 and the Englishman for 2008.

The European Tour's tournament committee could make the unprecedented double appointment Wednesday in Dubai on the eve of the Desert Classic.

Selecting both would be a compromise to avoid snubbing Faldo. The 47-year-old Englishman is the most successful British golfer of his generation, with victories in six majors and 11 appearances in the Ryder Cup.

Woosnam, who turns 47 on Wednesday, is the 1991 Masters Tournament champion and an eight-time Ryder Cup player. He was an assistant to Sam Torrance in 2002 and is widely favored to lead the team for 2006.

Tennis

Venus stunned early in Dubai by Italian

Venus Williams struggled with a blister on her right palm and lost in the first round for the first time in four years, beaten by Italy's Silvia Farina Elia 7-5, 7-6 (6) in the Dubai Women's Open.

Williams' previous first-round ouster was to Barbara Schett at the 2001 French Open.

Farina Elia had lost all nine of her previous matches to Williams since 1997. Williams, seeded fifth, made 66 unforced errors in a match lasting 2 hours, 4 minutes.

"It would normally have been a quick match," Williams said. "She really doesn't have the weapons to hurt me. The blister was really a factor. I just couldn't serve well and I just couldn't keep the balls in."