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Sports Notes: Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame Class of 2015 features WKU’s red tint

By Glenn Osborne
Special to NKyTribune

When the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame announces its Class of 2015 next Tuesday at the KFC Yum Center, expect to see a lot of red in the crowd of on-lookers.

That’s because three of the seven newest members have strong ties to the Western Kentucky University athletics program. Heading into the hall in June will be former WKU women’s basketball coach Paul Sanderford, former basketball standout Sharon Garland and Lloyd Gardner, a former manager for the program.

Also entering the hall on June 17 during ceremonies at the Crowne Plaza Louisville are former tennis star Mel Purcell, former director of Major League Umpires Randy Marsh, decorated track and field athlete Shandelier Boyd Smith and Lexington’s famed Keeneland Race Course (Churchill Downs is already in).

Sanderford had one of the most successful runs of any collegiate basketball coach in state history over his 26-year career as a head coach at WKU, Nebraska and Louisburg College. He won 616 games overall and had a career winning percentage of .748.

As WKU’s women’s coach, Sanderford picked up 365 victories with a .753 winning percentage from 1982-97, including 13 seasons with 20-plus victories. That includes a school-record 32 victories during the 1985-86 season. He also led the Lady Toppers to 14 postseason appearances – including 12 NCAA Tournament and the program’s three Final Four trips in 1985, 1986 and 1992.

Former WKU basketball coach is one of three inductees with ties to the Hilltoppers among those going into the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame next month (WKU Athletics Photo)

Former WKU basketball coach is one of three inductees with ties to the Hilltoppers among those going into the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame next month (WKU Athletics Photo)

Sanderford returned to the WKU sidelines for four seasons (2003-07) as an assistant coach on Darrin Horn’s men’s basketball staff.

Garland lettered for the Lady Toppers in 1981, scoring 393 points. Garland was considered a high school legend and earned a spot in the Kentucky High School Basketball Hall of Fame in 2013. She helped Laurel County win three state championships, leading the team in scoring in all three championship games, something no other player has accomplished.

Garland lettered at Kentucky in 1980 before joining the Lady Topper roster.

Gardner earned letters as a WKU basketball manager from 1964-67, serving for coaches Ed Diddle and John Oldham. After graduation in 1967, he volunteered part-time for the Kentucky Colonels of the ABA and was a teacher for Jefferson County Public Schools.

During his career he accumulated five championship rings through the teams he worked with: 1975 Kentucky Colonels, 1983 Kentucky Bourbons Professional Softball, two as an assistant coach on Fairdale’s 1990 and 1991 back-to-back state champion basketball teams and in 1994, as the head coach when he guided Fairdale to their third state title in five years.

Gardner is still the director of the prestigious King the of the Bluegrass Holiday Classic at Fairdale that began in 1981.

For more information about the Kentucky Athletics Hall of Fame or to purchase tickets for the reception and dinner in June, click this link.

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Morehead State just completed a weekend baseball sweep over Jacksonville State and in the process, established a new record for wins in a season.

The Eagles improved to 33-18, including an 18-9 mark in Ohio Valley Conference play. Coach Mike McGuire’s team has won eight of nine games heading into this week’s matchup at No. 23 Auburn. MSU trails league-leading Southeast Missouri by two games in the OVC standings. Morehead will host Murray State this weekend to wrap up regular season play.

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Behind a solid round by junior Becky Sharpe, Eastern Kentucky’s golf team finished 15th at the 2015 NCAA South Bend Regional last weekend, finishing one shot behind North Carolina and three ahead of No. 45 San Jose State. That was the best performance by an OVC school at an NCAA regional since the league first qualified for an automatic bid in 2005.

No previous OVC squad had ever beaten more than two teams at a regional before the Colonels topped three in 2015. EKU followed rounds of 307 and 304 with a final round 305 for a 54-hole total of 916. After San Jose State (919) in 16th, Sun Belt Champion Troy (923) was 17th and Youngstown State (948) rounded out the field.

Sofie Levin (229) led the Colonels and finished tied for 53rd. She got off to a strong start by turning in two birdies and just one bogey on the back nine. After making the turn at 1-under, the sophomore had four bogeys on the front nine to finish with a 3-over 75.

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Louisville freshman lefty pitcher and first baseman Brendan McKay was recently named to the 30-player USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award watch list.

McKay, from Darlington, Pa., is 7-1 with a 1.81 ERA and 82 strikeouts in 64.2 innings and 15 appearances on the mound, including eight straight weekend starts. At the plate, McKay is hitting .329 with two home runs, 26 RBI, 30 walks and 27 runs scored in 42 starts as a hitter for the No. 2 ranked Cardinals (38-11, 21-3 ACC).

Sponsored by Major League Baseball, and presented to the top amateur baseball player in the country in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation, 2015 marks the 38th year of the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award. The watch list will continue to be a “rolling” list until May 22 — when the semifinalists for the award are announced — ensuring that athletes can play themselves into consideration for the award.

UK standout A.J. Reed, who recently had three home runs in a Class A Minor League game, was last year’s Golden Spikes winner.

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Former Eastern Kentucky player and coach Austin Newton has a new role at the school. He’s the director of annual giving for the Athletics Annual Fund and the Colonel Club.

After standout prep career at Campbellsville High School, Newton played at EKU 2001-05 and was a senior captain on the 2004-05 squad that earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament and won what was at that time a school-record 22 games. He was also a three-year Colonel Scholar-Athlete who graduated with honors in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in public relations.

He began his coaching career at Massachusetts, where he served under former EKU head coach Travis Ford. After two seasons in Amherst, he returned to Eastern as a basketball operations assistant 2008-10 and has served as assistant coach since 2010.

Glenn Osborne is sports editor for KyForward.com, where this article originally appeared.

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