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Thursday, April 13, 2017: Cooperstown pitcher strikes out 22

   Leading off today: Talk about your impressive opening acts.

   Maria Noto led off the eighth inning with a walk, advanced to third on a double by Paige Cring, and came home on a wild pitch to help Cooperstown open its softball season with a 4-3 win over Little Falls in extra innings Wednesday.

   And that wasn't even close to her most noteworthy contribution to the win.

   Noto fanned 22 batters and walked none en route to a complete-game three-hitter.

   Little Falls went ahead 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth on a two-run home run by Laura Wind, and the Hawkeyes battled back to tie the game in the seventh.

   More softball: I'd have to bet against anyone pulling off the sort of rally Fabius-Pompey registered on the way to its latest victory.

   The Falcons entered the bottom of the seventh vs. Tully trailing 9-3 before scoring scored seven times to earn a 10-9 win. The big rally came after Tully had scored three times in the top of the inning.

   Natalie Durocher had the game-winning hit and Audrey McConnell finished with three runs batted in for Fabius-Pompey.

   Coach arrested: An Indian River coach was arrested Saturday after his demonstration of a mixed martial arts maneuver on a student caused the boy to lose consciousness, various local media reported.

   State police charged varsity baseball coach Lloyd Kevin Smith, 46, with endangering the welfare of a child, a Class A misdemeanor, WWNY-TV reported.

   Police said Smith was performing a demonstration on a 16-year-old male student at school Friday afternoon after classes when the choke-hold type maneuver caused the boy to become unconscious. The teen reportedly fell to the ground and struck his head on a door.

   Police said the player regained consciousness but went to practice. He was taken to an area hospital by his parents later Friday after the boy began suffering from nausea and blurred vision. He was diagnosed as having a concussion, the report said.

   Smith was issued a ticket to appear in Philadelphia Town Court.

   Indian River Superintendent Jim Kettrick declined to say if Smith is still coaching the team. The board of education is scheduled to meet tonight.

   Recruiting news: The spring signing period for Division I college sports began Wednesday, and one of the bigger names left on the board announced plans for his future in basketball.

   Greg Calixte, a 6-foot-8 forward at Mount Vernon, said he will sign with George Mason after accumulating numerous mid-major offers this winter.

   "He's a fantastic young man who will be an asset to his college," Mount Vernon coach Bob Cimmino told,. "He's a hard worker and extremely loyal."

    • The Knox School has produced its first Division I basketball player, with Omar El-Sheikh signing his national letter of intent with Fairfield University.

   The 6-8 forward arrived at the private school from Egypt in December 2015.

   Building a program: The Rochester City School District is returning to the world of varsity lacrosse for the first time in more than four decades.

   East High is fielding the a team of 22 players from half a dozen schools in the district, the Democrat and Chronicle reports. The Eagles , consisting largely of freshmen and sophomores, are scheduling to play a limited number of games vs. small schools plus a handful of scrimmages.

   "I think it's a sport we can excel at in the city," coach Sean Banks told the paper. "It's like basketball on grass."

   The East squad started as a modified team in 2014. In addition to the East varsity, there are two modified and two JV teams in the school district this spring. Carlos Cotto, athletics director for the RCSD, said there is a plan for separate boys and girls programs next spring.

   The helmet debate: Many if not most media outlets the dabble in high school sports have done a story this spring

on the new baseball pitch-count rules introduced by the NYSPHSAA. For those looking to move on to the next "issue" story, Newsday did a chunk of homework for you a couple of weeks ago.

   Girls lacrosse players have the option for the first time to wear standardized lacrosse-specific helmets after years of debate over whether helmets will make the game safer or create an uptick in physical play.

   Newsday reported most schools are leaving the decision up to the players. Others are buying the helmets and making them mandatory. And some are not even referring to the equipment as "helmets."

   "You're talking about a culture change," Mount Sinai coach Al Bertolone said. "We have some kids that like them, some kids that hate them, a lot of kids on the fence in between."

   The girls game, which has minimal contact relative to the boys version, has long resisted helmets out of concern that it will lead to more physical behavior -- critics point to reckless stick behavior that crept into professional hockey after helmets and face shields were introduced. Even without the checking that takes place on boys fields, girls do get hit in the head with the ball or an opponent's stick at times.

   The paper reported there were 65 suspected concussions among 4,431 girls lacrosse players on Long Island last season, or one per 68 players. There were 71 suspected concussions among 5,763 boys lacrosse players, or one per 81 players.

   "If I had a daughter and she played lacrosse," Comsewogue AD Matt DeVincenzo said, "I would want her to wear it."

   U.S. Lacrosse announced its decision to make helmets optional in August, citing six years of research, including whether to introduce hard-shell helmets like the ones boys wear. Ultimately officials decided on a defined standard for soft helmets, which, manufacturers say, won't injure a helmetless player in a collision.

   The NYSPHSAA and some other organizations have been referring to the soft helmets as "headgear."

   "We feel the word helmet is inaccurate and gives the player and parent the wrong impression," said Todd Nelson, NYSPHSAA assistant director."

   New Jersey shakeup: An AD and two coaches were fired at a board of education meeting Wednesday following a series of investigations into a New Jersey school's recruiting practices.

   The boys and girls basketball teams' seasons at Patterson Eastside High were halted in February after accusations of human trafficking, resulting in the suspension of several coaches. The initial investigation by NJ Advance Media claimed coaches promised to provide international players with living accommodations.

   The accusations triggered investigations by the state's governing body for high school sports and the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Former State Supreme Court Justice John E. Wallace Jr. was appointed to investigate and made recommendations to the school board.

   His report led the board to vote 5-2 in favor of termination for two boys basketball coaches and AD Gregory Cooper. A part-time administrative assistant was also dismissed.

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