Pujols so-so so far in ’04

ST. LOUIS — A month and a half into the season, the St. Louis Cardinals are waiting for the real Albert Pujols to show himself.

The reigning NL batting champion and two-time MVP runner-up was batting a so-so .278 heading into a stretch in which the Cardinals play 13 of 16 games on the road, beginning with Tuesday night’s 5-4 loss to the New York Mets. That’s 81 points below his .359 average last year and 56 points below his career average.

Putting in a good word

On a warm Saturday afternoon in March, it’s crowded at Dino’s Steakhouse, where customers are taking in breakfast and lunch.

Bill Clark sits across the table and spins yarn after yarn about Douglass School’s athletes. He speaks slowly, and his sentences often trail off with a gentle laugh.

More than a face in the crowd

Pressure has followed the Rev. Raymond Hayes for much of his life.

The feeling was there in high school when, in 1958, he chose to transfer as a junior from Frederick Douglass School to Hickman High School. Hayes felt pressure on the football field where he was the first black football player for Hickman.

Sluggish Kewpies advance to finals

SEDALIA — The Hickman soccer team kept its season alive Monday, but that does not mean coach Sandy Paulsen is happy.

The Kewpies beat Helias 4-0 in the Class 2 District 10 semifinals at Susie Ditzfield Memorial Field, but Paulsen said her team did not play as well as she expected.

Mends lifts Bruins past Jays

SEDALIA — Rock Bridge coach Marc Vandover said between the Bruins’ prom and freshman dance it was difficult to get the effort he wanted in practice this last week.

“I had two girls come up to me and say, “Coach, I’m here and I can’t sweat,’” Vandover said.

Jackson becomes force for Hickman

While Blake Tekotte takes most of the spotlight during Hickman’s baseball games, Justin Jackson’s improved performance is often overlooked.

Jackson has hit .500 and surprised a lot of pitchers more worried about Tekotte, who hits in front of Jackson.

Record lifts Hickman’s confidence

After beating Hazelwood West on Wednesday, the only thing higher than the Hickman girls’ soccer team’s offensive production is its confidence.

With the 2-0 victory, the Kewpies have outscored opponents 33-0 in May.

Friendly rivalry for Kewpies

The friendship of Hickman juniors Josh Brady and D.J. Chung thrives off competition on the golf course.

“Me and D.J., we love to go out there and compete with each other every time,” Brady said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s practice or tournaments, we both love to compete. It’s really pushed me to another level.”

Coaching toward opportunity

Amos Morris, Douglass School’s former athletic director, has a story he likes to tell about George Brooks because he says it reflects the late coach’s attitude on race and equality.

Morris says the coach was waiting in the The Minute Inn where blacks could order take-out food only, and Brooks’ daughter Sharon, who was about 8 or 9, sat on one of the counter stools and began twirling in circles.

Mavs’ start a hit

Mid-Missouri Mavericks fans who saw the team’s preseason game Saturday might have left in a state of shock.

A team that finished 33-57 last season in part because of a sluggish offense, the Mavericks erupted for 17 hits to defeat the Springfield Ducks 13-8 at Taylor Stadium. The teams played 10 innings to get as many players as possible involved.

NU’s James baffles Tigers

The Missouri softball team lost 1-0 to regular-season champion Nebraska in the Big 12 Conference Championship on Saturday in Oklahoma City.

It was the first time since 1997 the Tigers played for the title.

It’s about time for Columbia swimmers

To Hickman sophomore Rachael Maerz, three hundredths of a second will seem like a year.

Maerz won the 100-yard breaststroke at the Last Chance Qualifier meet Saturday at Hickman, but her time of 1 minute and 14.22 seconds was .03 seconds slower than the state qualifying time.

Moran earns heptathlon crown

Michelle Moran picked a great time to have one of the best days of her athletic career.

Moran, a former Missouri heptathlete, won the heptathlon at the Audrey Walton Combined Event Carnival on Friday at Audrey J. Walton Stadium with 5,698 points.

Bruins girls take second at district track meet

The Rock Bridge girls’ track team finished second and the boys’ team third at the District 5 Tournament on Saturday in O’Fallon.

Hickman’s boys’ team was fifth and the girls’ team finished sixth. Jefferson City won the boys’ and girls’ district titles.

Extra Points

Moran’s showing excites MU coach

It takes a lot to make a grown man run screaming through the rain, but Michelle Moran gave Rick McGuire a reason to do it Thursday.

Moran, a former Missouri heptathlete, set a personal best in the 200-meter dash on the first day of the Audrey Walton Combined Event Carnival at Audrey J. Walton Stadium.

Pressure no problem for Rorvig

Kaela Rorvig knows what is in store for some of her younger teammates on the Hickman track team.

In the postseason, races with more pressure, better competition and bigger crowds can make veterans nervous.

Leukemia can’t keep Hawf out

When doctors diagnosed leukemia in Scott Hawf, tennis was the first thing he asked about.

Two years ago, Hawf’s play came to a halt during a doubles tournament. Hawf and Jon-Eric Meyer, the No. 1 singles player for Rock Bridge this season, dominated until Hawf took a drink of Gatorade and could not keep it in his mouth.

One more try

In swimming, qualifying for the state championships is a little different from most high school sports.

Rather than winning races to earn a spot at the championships, swimmers must surpass a set time.

Missouri defeats Oklahoma State

The Missouri softball team defeated Oklahoma State 4-3 on Thursday at the Big 12 Conference Championships in at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, Okla.