Track: Girls relay teams shine at regional meet

The girls relay teams were a bright spot for Paradise at the Region II-3A meet in Whitehouse Friday and Saturday.

The 4×100 and 4×200 teams both won bronze, slightly missing state bids.

Kyndall McCasland, Amber French, Carressa McCasland and Mikela Beck made up the 4×100 team, while Kyndall McCasland, Taylor Richards, Carressa McCasland, Aliya Read competed in the 4×200.

The 4×100 relay’s 50.22 was just .01 shy of qualifying for the state meet in Austin, and the 4×200 team fell three seconds short of making the cut.

Paradise’s 4×400 team of Caressa McCasland, Read, Richards and Beck came in sixth with a time of 4:11.44.

Paradise’s Haley Rector finished fourth in the pole vault at 10-0, and Boyd’s best finish came from Lindsay Thorpe whose 36-10.5 shot put was good for bronze.

For the Paradise boys, the 4×200 team of Austin Hogan, Darian Sotomi, Nick Loney and Cash Preather set a school record with a 1:31.97 to qualify for regional finals.

After the meet, Paradise boys track coach Jonathan Ryle was reflective on the careers of the seniors who have led the team.

“These Seniors have given this school a JV district championship as freshmen, two varsity district championships, and ended it with a school record and their best race of the year,” Ryle said. “It was a great way to end it.”

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Baseball: Panthers hope returning player can help playoff run

In an 8-7 playoff win over Whitney last season, it was Paradise’s Caiden Berry who threw five innings, giving up six hits and two runs while striking out five.

Berry hasn’t taken the mound this season.

Ready for a Return

READY FOR A RETURN – Paradise’s Caiden Berry will pitch for the Panthers this weekend in their bi-district series. He’s missed nearly the entire season with an arm injury. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

In fact, he hasn’t played at all because of a torn wrist flexor and a slight UCL tear that took close to three months to heal.

“It feels like I came back at the perfect time,” Berry said. “I might be able to step in and help the team. I might start a game.”

He says he has begun finding his spots pitching bullpens after working through the atrophic rust gathered over three months, and he believes that his addition will help a rotation that is already strong.

“We have five or six pitchers that I think can go out and make a difference in the game,” Berry said. “I don’t think many high schools have that.”

The Panthers will face Gunter in the Region II 3A bi-district game.

Gunter went 20-3 in the regular season and 13-1 in District 10-3A.

Historically, they are one of Texas’ top baseball programs with seven state tournament appearances that include championships in 1994 and 1998.

But Paradise coach Mike Fehler has to focus on beating this year’s Gunter team.

“We’ve got to play quality defense and throw strikes,” Fehler said. “Gunter is a good ball club. Their record shows that.

“It looks like their pitching staff is solid and they score a lot of runs. We’re going to have to play our best against them.”

Gunter averages 7.8 runs per game, while their opponents average 1.3.

Meanwhile, Paradise is averaging 7.5 runs a game, allowing opponents 3.5 per contest.

Still, Fehler feels like his team is hot coming into the playoffs after winning their final three games of district by a combined score of 34-2.

“Just seeing the kids come together as a group to get into the playoffs is really special,” he said. “It’s fun to watch.”

Fehler also said his strategy in the series may be influenced by possible weather conditions.

“Weather may turn it into a one-game series,” he noted. “Meyers may end up going in the first game because of that situation.”

Bryson Meyers has been the Panthers’ top pitcher this season.

The bi-district series will begin at 5 p.m. Friday at Denton Ryan with Game 2 30 minutes after Game 1 concludes.

If necessary, Game 3 will be played at noon Saturday in Ponder.

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Softball: Paradise faces former rival Brock

When the Paradise Lady Panthers take the field for their Class 3A Region II area series they will see a familiar face – Brock.

“They were a district opponent for a lifetime,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig.

Ready for Next Step

READY FOR NEXT STEP – Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor will lead the Lady Panthers against Brock in an area round series starting Friday. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The Lady Panthers take on Brock in game one at 6 p.m. Friday in Argyle. Game two is slated for 2 p.m. Saturday in Graford.

“We’re excited to play them. Last year, we had a rivalry,” said Paradise pitcher Reagan Taylor. “We want to beat them because they’re Brock.”

Brock earned the spot in the area round with a sweep of Maypearl in bi-district. The Lady Eagles won 5-0 and 8-6.

Paradise earned the trip to the second round with its 5-3 win over Whitesboro in 13 innings.

Essig expects that tough game to benefit her team moving forward.

“It helped the kids learn about themselves,” Essig said. “There was a number of times they had baserunners and we stayed solid and played good defense.”

Paradise senior catcher Jett Preather agreed that game helped her team.

“Our team stayed strong after I made that error,” Preather said. “Our bottom of the order stepped up and got big hits.

“Now, we don’t have the first [playoff] game jitters. Our newbies are not scared to mess up anymore.”

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Softball: Working extra – Davis’ triple lifts Paradise to win in 13th

For her sixth at-bat of the game Thursday in the top of the 13th inning, Brooklynn Davis took a simple approach.

“I was looking for one right down the middle and laying off the riseball,” said the Paradise sophomore. “I found one I wanted and drove it.

“I thought it was going out.”

So Close

SO CLOSE – Paradise’s Kailey Thomas describes how close she came to hitting a home run on her game-tying triple. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The ball instead hit the center-field fence for a two-out, two-run triple that broke a deadlock at 3 and gave the Paradise Lady Panthers the 5-3 extra-inning victory over the Whitesboro Lady Cats at Denton’s Lady Bronco Field in the Class 3A Region II bi-district game.

“It was the best feeling ever,” Davis said about the triple. “I knew it was over.”

IN RIGHT SPOT – Paradise’s Allie Rutledge glides in to catch a ball during the Lady Panthers’ win over Whitesboro Thursday in 13 innings. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The Lady Panthers (18-7) will move on to play Brock or Maypearl in the area round next week. Brock leads the series over Maypearl after winning game one 5-0.

Davis’ triple was one of just four hits for the Lady Panthers against Whitesboro pitcher Katie Dean over 13 innings. Dean struck out 17, keeping Paradise off balance with a tough changeup and riseball.

“Their pitcher pitched a great game,” said Paradise coach Karin Essig. “They were a great team. It took everyone to beat them.”

Dean did issue eight walks including the two to Kailey Thomas and Bailey Higgins just before Davis’ game-winning hit.

Dean shut out Paradise through the first five innings. In the top of the sixth an error and walk opened the door for Thomas, who drove a two-out triple to center field. Thomas then came home on a single by Bailey Higgins to give Paradise a 3-2 lead.

That lead was brief. Whitesboro scored with two outs in the bottom of the sixth on a single by Courtnee McAdoo. Courtesy runner Jacklynn Cogburn narrowly got to the plate as Paradise catcher Jett Preather couldn’t handle a throw from right field to get down the tag.

The game stayed tied for seven more innings as Dean and Paradise starter Reagan Taylor kept putting up zeros on the scoreboard.

Taylor struck out 13 and limited Whitesboro to three runs – two earned – on 10 hits over 13 innings.

In tight situations, Taylor was at her best.

In the 10th, she allowed leadoff singles to Casey Lang and Dean. Taylor then fielded a bunt on a squeeze play and flipped the ball to Preather at the plate to get the sliding Lang. She then got a couple of infield flies to get out of the inning.

Taylor also allowed the lead-off hitters in the next three innings to reach but left them stranded on the bases to keep the game tied.

“I just had to focus as hard as I could and was not going to give up on anything,” Taylor said. “[Our defense] did so good. We’ve been working so hard to get our defense solid.

“This gets our heads up and gives us a lot of needed confidence.”


Paradise … 000 … 003 … 000 … 000 … 2 … 5 … 4 … 1
Whitesboro … 101 … 001 … 000 … 000 … 0 … 3 … 10 … 2

WP: Reagan Taylor. LP: Katie Dean

3B: Paradise – Kailey Thomas, Brooklynn Davis. RBI: Paradise – Thomas 2; Davis 2; Bailey Higgins. Whitesboro – Gabbie Case, Devyn Power, Courtnee McAdoo.

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Saturday Sports Buffet: Going the distance – Ford makes plans to make track meet, cheering championships

As a mother and track coach, Johnna Ford is used to being on the run. This weekend, she’ll be flying to get everywhere.

Winning Emotion

WINNING DUO – After taking her track team to regionals, Johnna Ford will travel to Florida to watch her daughter Addy compete in the cheer championships. Messenger photo by Richard Greene

After coaching her Paradise girls track team at the Class 3A Region II track meet in Whitehouse, Ford will travel back to the area to jump on a jet at DFW to get to Orlando, Fla. to watch her daughter Addy compete in the Varsity All-Star Cheerleading Championship, The Summit.

“As soon as the last event is over, I’ll head back and then I’m flying out late Saturday for Disney World,” Ford said. “It’s been crazy planning.”

Ford and her daughter have had plenty of time to work on the scheduling conflict between the regional track meet and cheerleading championships. Ford said Addy’s coach at Cheer Unlimited made it known when practice started that the team would qualify for The Summit and compete for a title.

“I checked the dates and realized they were the same as the regional track meet,” Ford said. “We’ve been planning for the conflict all year. I’m glad she gets to go.”

Addy has been cheering competitively for three years. The seventh-grader also cheers at Paradise, while running track and cross country and playing volleyball and basketball.

“The only half-speed is in the morning,” Addy joked about her family’s hectic schedule.

Addy has been practicing with her team out of Nocona multiple times per week in preparation for the championships.

“I’m so excited. This morning I couldn’t eat,” Addy said Thursday.

She was flying to Orlando Friday with her father, Rusty. Addy admits that she wishes her mother could be with her for the opening round of competition Saturday.

“But I’m glad all her girls made it to regionals,” Addy said. “She deserves it all because she works really hard.”

If Addy’s squad is in the top 10, they will compete in the finals on Sunday with Ford on hand.

“They should advance; they haven’t lost,” Ford said.

She hoped for equal success for her track team at a tough regional meet.

“My dream weekend would be get one or two of the relays to qualify for state and for my daughter to win Summit. That would make for the best weekend ever. They all worked so hard,” Ford said.

She just happens to be going to the Magic Kingdom that prides itself on making dreams come true.


  • Stunned was the only word to come to mind when I heard about Bridgeport athletic director and football coach Danny Henson not getting an additional year on his two-year contract. While only being around this area for six years, it didn’t take long to realize that before Henson arrived to lead the Bulls, the program had not enjoyed much success. The program was on a 17-game losing streak in 1993 when Henson arrived. The Bulls went on to win the area title his first season. Over 22 seasons at Bridgeport, his teams have been in the postseason 17 times, including a trip to the state semifinals in 2001. Before his arrival, the last playoff berth for Bridgeport was in 1971. But aside from the football field, on which his team is coming off a trip to the second round of the playoffs, is the hidden work of Henson for the overall athletic program. Per Henson’s request, every coach in every sport on every level is required to fill out a game report that he sends out. No other school in our area goes to such lengths to celebrate their athletes. Henson is usually also the first to get out information about schedule changes and any postseason information. This year with Henson as AD, there’s been plenty of postseason information to get out. The school is currently just outside the top 10 in the Lone Star Cup standings for 4A, making the recent decision even more puzzling
  • After the cold, wet start that kept softball teams on ice early in the season, several local teams have found their legs. Paradise and Bridgeport each went into extra innings to score bi-district wins. Alvord leads its bi-district series 1-0. Decatur should be favored in its game Saturday after going unbeaten in 8-4A. Boyd is the lone Wise County team, needing a rally after dropping game one to a Pilot Point program two years removed from a state championship
  • After improving his state finish by a spot, tying for fourth, Decatur’s Drew Jones will be back on the course this weekend playing in the inaugural U.S. Amateur Four-Ball championships at San Francisco’s famed Olympic Club. Jones, 17, and his playing partner Michael Board, 52, have the second largest age difference in the field of 256 golfers
  • After attending for a second straight year, I’ve realized that the state golf tournament is more of a test of endurance than golf with rounds stretching over six hours. There needs to be a way to shorten the rounds with players. It seems to also penalize some of the top players, taking them out of rhythm
  • Bold prediction: the Bridgeport girls and Decatur boys will be back at state next year and bring home medals
  • The Dallas Mavericks season ended again in the first round. I fear that these may be the good old days. The series against Houston looked a lot like the last gasp for the ’80s Mavericks when they were swept in 1990 by Portland. We all remember the decade of dismal basketball that followed
  • I must admit I wanted to see the Dallas Cowboys select Texas’ Malcom Brown Thursday. But the recent draft success of Cowboys with Will McClay helping run the show are hard to argue with. Just hope Jerry Jones keeps listening to him.

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Baseball: Paradise crushes Yellowjackets, 18-2

Thursday’s Wise County bout had several implications.

Boyd absolutely needed a win to stay in the playoff hunt and likewise, a Paradise win would ensure their postseason future.

With that in mind, the Panthers came out with a 10-run first inning that put the game out of reach as soon as it started. Paradise went on for the 18-2 win over rival Boyd.

Paradise pounded the ball, with every player in the lineup collecting a hit off of Boyd’s pitching combination of Spencer Pellegrini, Evan Stephenson and Michael Spinelli.

Altogether, the Panthers recorded 18 runs on 17 hits.

Paradise’s Austin Hogan got four hits in five at-bats. He drove in four runs and crossed home three times.

Skylar Black also drove in four Panther runs on three hits.

Both of Boyd’s runs came in the third inning, beginning with a Trace Moran single and a Tyler Kemp double.

Clay Barnett grounded out to second to score Moran. Colten Bruce singled to right field to bring home Kemp.

Paradise used three pitchers in the five-inning contest.

Bryson Meyers started the game, allowing one hit and two scoreless innings.

Austin Hogan followed with two innings on the mound, allowing four hits and two runs with four strikeouts. Black closed the game for Paradise, throwing 11 pitches to allow one hit.

Paradise’s district record moves to 8-5, leapfrogging Henrietta for the third-place spot.

Henrietta lost to Holliday, falling to 7-6 in 9-3A, while Boyd drops to 6-7.

If Henrietta were to lose their final district game, and Boyd wins, Henrietta owns the tiebreaker over Boyd after winning both head-to-heads.


Bridgeport’s Mason Baker drove in three runs in Bridgeport’s 6-5 win over Springtown Wednesday.

Despite striking out 11 times, Bridgeport managed 10 hits and brought in two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to take the lead on its home field.

Corbin Coleman took the mound for the Bulls and struck out 10 Porcupine batters in his seven innings of work, and Bridgeport overcame three errors to keep themselves in the ballgame and eventually win it.

The win moves Bridgeport’s record to 4-4, tied with Springtown.

Bridgeport owns the tiebreaker after winning both district games, making the Bulls the third seed out of 8-4A behind district champion Decatur and second seed Castleberry.


The Eagles used the arm of Jaxon Terrell to propel them past Abilene Wylie Thursday.

Terrell pitched five and two-thirds innings, giving up four hits and two runs in the 4-2 victory.

Trey Penny did a nice job in relief, pitching the final out of the sixth and seventh innings.

Penny struck out three and gave up no hits or runs to get the save.

AJ Johnson doubled, driving in a run and scoring himself. Johnson also walked once.

Derek Potts drove in two Decatur runs. Michael Hicks also went 1-for-1.

The non-district game was a “warm-up” game for the Eagles, as they prepare for the playoffs.

Decatur will face Godley in the first round of the postseason in a one-game playoff at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 8, at Northwest High School.


Despite getting five hits and five walks, the Texans couldn’t keep up with district-leading Keller’s 12 runs on nine hits.

The Indians also worked in nine walks off of Northwest’s four-pitcher crew of Anthony Phillips, Cameron Rhodes, Garret Moltzan and Hunter Lawless.

The Texan’s lone run came in the bottom of the first inning when Hunter Lawless singled to short and an ensuing error allowed Jacob Paytonjian to cross home.

The loss drops the Texans’ record to 4-9, ahead of only 3-10 Denton Ryan in the 5-6A standings.

The Texans are seventh overall and will miss out on the 2015 playoffs.

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Take a hike

Take a Hike 2

About 180 Paradise Elementary second- and third-grade students took to the trails Thursday, during their school’s second Trails for Success hiking trip at the Sid Richardson Scout Ranch west of Runaway Bay. Damian Gonzalez (above) walks ahead of Jack Rogers, Eric Hernandez and Landon Morrison. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Take a Hike 1

Madison Gentry (left) holds a handful of wildflowers picked along the trails. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

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Rayce Jonathan Tyler Ishmael

Raley and Felicia Ishmael of Paradise announce the birth of a son, Rayce Jonathan Tyler Ishmael, on April 24, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 8 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 1/2 inches long.

He has one sister: Ela Presley Ishmael, 4.

Grandparents are Tamra Diaz and Jerry Veselka of Mineral Wells, Dale and Michele Simpson of Paradise and Dean and Darlene Ishmael of St. Stephens, S.C.

Great-grandparents are Jimmy Diaz of Dallas and Lynda May Simpson of Decatur.

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Braylon Cal Gregg

Brandon and Felicia Gregg of Paradise announce the birth of a son, Braylon Cal Gregg, on April 24, 2015, at Wise Regional Health System in Decatur.

He weighed 7 pounds, 10 ounces and was 20 inches long.

He has two sisters: Jatelynd Gregg, 6; and Cadrian Gregg, 2.

Grandparents are Tina and Chris Leyva, Jesse Casillas, and Leeanne and Bennett Gregg.

Great-grandparents are Carol Richardson, and Martin and Mary Helen Casillas.

Great-great-grandmother is Ruth Casillas.

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Softball: Lady Panthers take 9-3A championship after Holliday loss

In a wild turn of events, the Paradise Lady Panthers captured the 9-3A championship with an improbable Holliday loss and a win over Nocona Saturday.

SWING AWAY – Brooklynn Davis was a force in Paradise’s final district game against Nocona. Davis went 2-for-2, scored two runs and walked twice. Davis and her teammates don’t have much time to celebrate their 9-3A district championship. They play Whitesboro Thursday night in the first round of the playoffs. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

After a 4-2 loss to Holliday on Paradise’s senior night last Tuesday, most thought the two teams would tie in record, giving Holliday the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lady Panthers.

The surprising twist happened when Holliday lost to Bowie for the second time this season, dropping their record to 11-3 and allowing the 12-2 Lady Panthers to move into first.

According to coach Karin Essig, the Lady Panthers were watching the Paradise baseball game when they heard the news that Holliday had lost.

“It was pretty nice,” Essig said. “The kids were pretty pumped when they found out they had won it.”

Paradise will play Whitesboro, the fourth seed from District 10-3A, in the bi-district round.

“We feel good going into it,” Essig said. “Everybody’s healthy and ready to go.”

The single-game playoff will begin at 7 p.m. Thursday at Denton High School.

Reagan Taylor pitched six innings and allowed just one hit, while striking out 13 batters in the 8-1 win over Nocona.

Shelby Barclay drove in two Paradise runs and Brooklynn Davis scored twice, while going 2-for-2 at the plate with a double and two walks.

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Track: Paradise run to area title

After taking the handoff with a slight lead on Bowie’s anchor leg, Paradise senior Mikeala Beck found herself in a tight footrace to the finish line Thursday.

GRABBING TITLE – Paradise’s Mikeala Beck inches ahead of a Bowie runner in the last leg of the 4×100 Thursday. Paradise won the area title in the event. Messenger photo by Messenger photo by Mack Thweatt

“I was watching her in my peripheral and could see her,” Beck said. “I didn’t want to lose it. I thought I could hold her off.”

Beck kept the slight advantage to win the 4×100 at the 9/10-3A area meet in Jacksboro in 51.03 by 0.02 over Bowie.

“It was payback for district,” said Beck, who teamed with Kyndall McCasland, Amber French and Carressa McCasland for the area crown.

The relay was one of two relay victories for the Lady Panthers on their way to a second straight area title. The Lady Panthers finished with 99 points, beating second-place Pottsboro by 13.

“I don’t have words for it,” Beck said. “We were a lot deeper last year and won by seven points. This year, half of our team was freshmen and we won by [13]. It was not our ability that led us to win, it was our heart.”

Aliyah Read, who anchored the Lady Panthers’ area-champion 4×200 relay, added: “The whole year we’ve been trying to get back here. We worked really hard. Our practices are hard. We’re blessed to be back-to-back champions.”

Paradise qualified athletes for the May 1-2 Class 3A Region II meet in 10 events and collected eight area medals – three golds and five bronzes.

“I’m proud of them,” said Paradise coach Johna Ford. “We did better than we expected in the running events. We thought we’d do better in the field events.

“We take a lot of pride in being pretty team oriented. They started out with the goal of winning again as a team first and individually second.”

The sprint relay set the tone Thursday on the track with its victory that started with strong legs by Kyndall McCasland, French and Carressa McCasland before the baton reached Beck.

“We worked really hard on the handoffs,” Ford said.

Beck said the exchange between her and Carressa McCasland was near perfect.

“That was the fastest handoff we’ve had,” she said.

“I knew if Carressa could keep up in her leg, I’d be able to hold off [Bowie].”

Paradise’s 4×200 quartet of Kyndall McCasland, Taylor Richards, Carressa McCasland and Read won by nearly a full second, running a season-best 1:47.92.

Getting the baton with the lead, Read confidently sprinted around the final curve to victory.

“I just had to finish it,” Read said. “Our handoffs were really good.”

Ford added that the relay remains unbeaten this season, heading to regionals.

The Lady Panthers’ 4×400 with Carressa McCasland, Read, Richards and Beck took third in 4:12.59.

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Softball: Lady Panthers fall short in showdown

Things could have been much worse for the Lady Panthers heading into the bottom of the seventh.

GOT IT – Bailey Higgins and Kailey Thomas run for a fly ball during Paradise’s loss to Holliday Tuesday. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

After giving up two runs in the third inning, Paradise stopped the bleeding by getting two massively important outs with Holliday runners on the corners.

Again in the fourth inning, after allowing two runs, the Panthers got a desperate out with the bases loaded.

A Brooklynn Davis single to left field scored Paradise’s first run in the bottom of the fourth, and a Reagan Taylor double in the bottom of the fifth scored Shelby Barclay and shrunk the Panthers deficit to two.

In the bottom of the seventh with the district lead on the line, both Courtney Cline and Barclay grounded out to start the inning.

Down to their last out, Paradise’s Allie Rutledge hit a single to left field and Taylor followed by working a walk.

Jett Preather’s line drive single to left loaded the bases, setting things up for freshman Kailey Thomas to be the hero on Paradise’s senior night.

Though Thomas hit a hard liner to left field, the ball’s course was almost perfectly set for the glove of the Holliday outfielder who made the catch and ended the 4-2 loss.

Taylor started the game for the Panthers and pitched four innings, striking out eight, walking four, allowing six hits and four runs.

Thomas pitched the final three innings and the freshman allowed no hits, walks or runs, while striking out three.

“I thought she did a great job,” Essig said. “I’m proud of her. I think the kid just comes and plays. You ask her to make something work and she does it. She really wants to be good at this and she’s stepped up big for us all year.”

After the loss, the Lady Panthers celebrated senior night with a ceremony that honored senior players, their parents, grandparents and senior PA announcer Joey Lopez.

Essig expressed her regrets that her seniors couldn’t get the win over Holliday on the special night.

“I love those seniors,” Essig said. “They had to grow up at the varsity level and I couldn’t be prouder of them. They knew today was big and they really wanted to win that. They wanted to take first place tonight.”

As for the reason they lost, Essig said that they just couldn’t get the bats going until later in the game.

Taylor thinks that the loss could be a blessing in disguise as the Lady Panthers prepare for the playoffs.

“I think this loss will definitely fuel us,” the senior star said. “We have to work hard for the playoffs.”

Paradise’s district record drops to 11-2, tied with Holliday atop 9-3A, but gives the head-to-head advantage to Holliday who won both contests.

The district champion and runner-up from 9-3A will face either Whitesboro or Callisburg in the first playoff round, depending on the final contests of the season.

Whitesboro is currently third in 10-3A with a 9-4 record, but must face 12-1 Howe in the final game of district.

Callisburg has an 8-5 record in 10-3A with a probable win against 4-9 Gunter to close the season.

The winner of district 9-3A will play the fourth seed from 10-3A, and the second seed from 9-3A will play the third seed from 10-3A.


WP: Jennifer Wright LP: Reagan Taylor

2B: Paradise, Reagan Taylor

RBI: Holliday, Jennifer Wright, Emily Dyes, Beka Hardin; Paradise, Reagan Taylor, Brooklynn Davis

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Baseball: Meyers keeps Panthers in playoff hunt

Sophomore pitcher Bryson Meyers knew that his team had their backs to the wall in the playoff race as he started the game against Holliday Tuesday.

Mowing Them Down

MOWING ‘EM DOWN – Paradise’s Bryson Meyers uncorks a pitch for the Panthers against Holliday. Meyers picked up win, shutting out Holliday. Messenger Photo by Joe Duty

Meyers produced a beauty of a game, allowing just five hits in a seven-inning shutout in the Panthers’ 6-0 win.

The young pitcher had most of the Holliday batters off-balance, using all of his pitches with precision and accuracy.

“I just like to keep them off-balance,” Meyers said. “I’ll start the three, four and five hole guys with the off speed stuff a lot of the time and work backwards with the fastball.”

He kept the middle of the Holliday lineup from big hits and the Paradise defense was more than prepared to turn Holliday’s grounders and fly balls into outs.

“He got on top early,” Paradise coach Mike Fehler said. “When you get ground balls and fly balls you can go longer in the game. That’s what he did, and that allowed him to go the full seven.”

Meyers’ efforts were aided by a four-run first inning that gave the pitcher a lead early on.

In the bottom of the first, a Sam Robinson walk was followed by a Skylar Black line drive double to center field, scoring Robinson for the Panthers’ first run.

A John Bridgeman walk set up JD Pearson for his double to right that brought in courtesy runner Mason Cline and put Bridgeman on third.

A Holliday error on a Skyler Clawson grounder to third base scored Bridgeman and Pearson before the inning was over.

Pearson opened the bottom of the fourth with a leadoff homer to left field that put Paradise up 5-0.

Clawson brought in another run with a line drive single to left that scored Dillon Meadows in the bottom of the fifth.

Heading into the game, Paradise was tied with Boyd at 5-5 in district play, looking up at third-place Henrietta with their 6-4 record.

Both Henrietta and Boyd lost their games Tuesday, and now the Panthers are tied for third in the district at 6-5 battling for the third and final playoff seed.

The win over Holliday was not only big for the Panther’s record, it also signifies the final time they will have to face a winning team.

With 4-7 Nocona, 5-6 Boyd and 4-7 Jacksboro left on the schedule, a three-game winning streak could solidify the Panthers in the playoff equation.

If Henrietta wins their final three games, the two teams would have to find a means to break a tie after splitting their two head-to-head district contests.

PARADISE (7-8-1, 6-5) 6, HOLLIDAY (15-4, 8-3) 0

WP: Bryson Meyers LP: Tyler Munden

2B: Paradise, Skylar Black, Dillon Meadows, JD Pearson; Holliday, Colton Shank

HR: Paradise, JD Pearson

RBI: Paradise, Skylar Black, JD Pearson 2, Skyler Clawson

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Paradise ISD taps Edwards for superintendent

The Paradise School Board Monday night named the district’s Chief Financial Officer, Mac Edwards, the lone finalist for the superintendent’s job.

The district will officially offer Edwards the position in 21 days or by the next board meeting.

Mac Edwards

The board announced its decision after an hour-long closed session during its regular meeting. According to board president Homer Mundy, Edwards’ three-year contract would begin July 1. Interim Superintendent Robert Criswell will complete his contract at the end of June.

Edwards is happy for the opportunity and said his family is excited for him. He said he has no plans for big changes in the district, and although the school’s budget is tight, the district is not in peril.

“There are a lot of challenges with public schools right now, whether it’s testing or funding,” Edwards said. “Nobody said it is going to be easy.”

Edwards has a depth of experience at his fingertips as he is one of several family members in the field of education. His mother taught for 45 years, and his father was a school administrator. His brother is a superintendent for Lafayette County Schools in southern Arkansas.

For about a year, Edwards has acted as the district’s CFO, an experience he said has been valuable in preparing him to lead the district.

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with a lot of good administrators and got a lot of advice from them,” Edwards said.


  • The board decided to ask the state for bad weather waivers for Feb. 27 and March 5. School was closed because of inclement weather on those days. Other days missed were covered by days built into the school calendar year.
  • Changes were made to the 2015-16 school calendar to align spring break with Bridgeport ISD’s break, March 14-18, 2016.
  • While in closed session, the board also agreed to offer reasonable assurance to PISD’s para-professional non-contract employees for the coming school year.

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Paradise City Council seeks info before action

The Paradise City Council discussed Monday the possibility of hiring a code enforcement officer and a resident deputy but decided to get more information before making a decision.

The council wants to better understand the expense and benefits associated with the positions.

The council also discussed rates for public utilities in the city and decided to make no changes.

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Seniors paint a bright future

Each brick represents a success story and the culmination of 12 years of hard work.

Painted to represent themselves and their future plans, Paradise High School seniors who have committed to a university or military service claim a cinder block in the main hallway as their own.


SPOTLIGHT – Matti Rutledge stands atop a step ladder while fellow students help align a projection of her stencil. Paradise seniors committed to a particular college or military branch are able to paint bricks in the high school hallway. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

The senior wall is quickly becoming a school tradition with this being the third year for the project, according to school counselor Peggy Kronenberger. She and other school officials saw this implemented at other high schools and thought it was a great idea.

Kronenberger said there’s a “wow factor” for visitors when they walk through the high school’s doors and see the handcrafted symbols of student success.

“As they commit, they bring me their letters and choose a brick to paint,” Kronenberger said. “It’s growing, and you’ll see some that have names penciled that haven’t been started yet.”

The school provides the paint and brushes, and students are allowed to paint during their off periods and in the mornings.

“They can be as creative as they want. It’s their brick,” Kronenberger said. “Some use traditional school logos, many use school colors and some use chevron or polka-dot backgrounds. They own it.”

She said the seniors have until the end of the school year to finish painting. Some students who plan on attending the same institution combine bricks for one large creation.

Inside the Lines

INSIDE THE LINES – Kaylee McConnell works on her brick. She plans on to attend Hill College in Burleson on a basketball scholarship. Messenger photo by Jimmy Alford

Twins Marki and Matti Rutledge will both attend Tarrant County College in Fort Worth and have combined their two bricks into one featuring a zigzag pattern in TCC’s colors. Marki said they aren’t ready to separate just yet, and she’s excited for college life.

“I’m excited for the different atmosphere for sure,” Marki said.

She isn’t certain whether she’ll pursue a teaching degree or become a dental hygienist. Similarly, Matti is considering a medical field and hopes to become a labor and delivery nurse.

“I’m glad to be able to get my future started,” Matti said.

Kaylee McConnell was repainting the logo of her chosen destination – Hill College in Burleson. She said finding time to paint is tough.

“Every week there’s a ton of people out here,” McConnell said. “It takes time.”

Kronenberger said the number of students choosing to paint a brick has grown, and the number of colleges represented has also increased. This year Dallas Baptist University and UT at Permian Basin showed up for the first time.

Kronenberger thinks the wall also encourages seniors not to procrastinate when it comes to finding a college or making plans.

“We even had a little competition to see who would be the first to turn in a letter,” the counselor said.

Kronenberger said if the walls of the senior hall fill up, they will expand the project to other parts of the school.

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Paradise ISD Student Spotlights for Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Cougar Gentry

Cougar Gentry

Grade: Kindergarten

Parents: Jamie and Jacoby Gentry

Favorite subject: PE

Activities: He likes soccer, watching TV, and building stuff with his family.

“He works hard at being a strong, positive leader. He is compassionate and caring to his classmates. Cougar has excelled in everything the teacher has asked him to do this year.” – Principal Robyn Gibson


Katelin Skinner-Sims

Katelin Skinner-Sims

Grade: 4th

Parents: Tabey Cavender

Favorite subject: Science

Activities: She likes soccer, and reading mystery books.

“Katelin’s excellent grades reflect the hard work she puts into her classes. Because of Katelin’s sweet personality, her teachers and peers love her. At recess, you will find Katelin patiently playing with our Life Skills students to make them feel a part of the group. Katelin exemplifies a model student and citizen.” – Principal Kristin Gage


Emily Corbin

Emily Corbin

Grade: 12th

Parents: Rick and Kelly Corbin

Favorite subject: Athletics and A&P

Activities: She is in cross country, volleyball, basketball, track, agriculture, Beta Club, student council, and a health committee member. She plays the fiddle, shows pigs, and enjoys church activities.

“Emily Corbin is an outstanding student at Paradise High School. She participates on many athletic teams including the cross country team that qualified for state. She shows pigs for the Paradise FFA and is an officer for the chapter. Emily is a member of several clubs on campus and part of the district health committee. She also enjoys church activities and spending time with her family. Emily is the student that always has a smile, always has something positive to say and goes out of her way to help people.” – Principal Mark Mathis

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Baseball: Yellowjackets fall to Henrietta

Boyd led for six and a half innings in Friday’s loss to Henrietta.

The Yellowjackets didn’t help themselves, committing six errors in the 3-2 loss.

In fact, Boyd allowed only one hit in the bottom of the seventh, giving up a walk, a hit-by-pitch and committing an error to set up the Henrietta comeback win.

The loss puts Boyd’s 9-3A record at 5-5, tied for fourth with Paradise and out of the playoff seeding.

Henrietta’s record moves to 6-4, in third while two-loss Holliday and undefeated Bowie have the top two spots.

With four more games to play, Boyd still has time to get back in the hunt, but it will likely take wins over Paradise and Bowie.


The Chico Dragons beat Poolville in five innings Monday, 14-3.

Cameron Weatherly allowed four hits, three runs in his 10-strikeout performance on the mound.

Weatherly also hit a three-run homer to go with a double and a walk at the plate.

Hagen Davis drove in three runs, while Jeremy Blanks brought home two.

Lead-off batter Jaston McBee went 3-4 and hit Chico’s only triple.

Chico opened the game with four runs in the first followed by three in the second inning.

Another four in the third inning and three more in the fourth gave the Dragons an 11-run lead.

The win moves the Chico’s record to 8-1 in District 10-2A as they remain atop the standings.


Bowie’s eight first-inning runs proved to be insurmountable for Paradise Friday night.

The district leaders forced Panther John Bridgeman to throw 45 pitches in the first inning as he allowed seven hits and walked three in the 12-1 loss.

Landry Norwood came on in relief and gave up four hits, allowing four walks and three earned runs in his four innings on the hill.

Norwood went 1-for-1 at the plate with a single and a walk, but his team’s nine strikeouts were indicative of the kind of offensive struggles Paradise had.

Tied with Boyd at 5-5 in 9-3A, Paradise is currently fourth in the district.

Games against Nocona, Boyd and Jacksboro round out the Panther’s schedule.


Texan pitcher Dustin May gave up two hits, two walks and two runs in Northwest’s opening frame against Timber Creek.

In the final six innings, May was terrific, allowing one hit, walking none and striking out nine.

Though his day on the mound was ideal, the Texans only managed one run in the bottom of the fifth and fell to the district rival.

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Softball: Collinsville stops Alvord streak

Despite home runs from Reagan Guthrie and Mikena Mader, and RBIs from Ashton Peterson and Kaely Beaver, Alvord fell to Collinsville 14-4 Friday.

Mader wasn’t as sharp as she had been during Alvord’s six-game win streak, giving up 16 hits and 10 earned runs.

The Alvord bats weren’t great either, totaling four hits in 22 at-bats.

Alvord’s second district loss gives them a 6-2 district record and drops them to second place, behind 7-1 Lindsay in 12-2A.


Northwest couldn’t find an answer for Timber Creek’s four late runs in the seventh inning Friday night.

After Timber Creek scored two in the second inning, Northwest responded with four to take the lead and added two in the fifth to go up 6-2.

A Timber Creek run in the sixth, and their spree of four in the seventh, stole a game from the Lady Texans who led for three innings.


The Lady Panthers beat Bowie Friday afternoon aided by a two-hit pitching performance from Reagan Taylor.

Taylor also drove in one of Paradise’s three runs, and Brooklynn Davis went 2-for-4 with a run.

Randa Taylor and Jett Preather both drove in a run, and the Lady Panthers were also helped by three Bowie errors, and remain atop District 9-3A

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Meeting Previews for Saturday, April 18, 2015

PARADISE CITY COUNCIL – Monday night the Paradise City Council will consider declaring April 21, 2015, “Sue Hudson Day.” The council will also hear reports from the Economic Development Corp., Planning and Zoning Board, as well as the city’s building and water departments. The council may also hire a code enforcement officer. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

RUNAWAY BAY CITY COUNCIL – The council will discuss an antenna lease agreement between the city and Infinilink Broadband at its meeting Monday night. They will also consider bids on high-service pumps and the city’s mowing program. The meeting is 5:30 p.m. at 101 Runaway Bay Drive.

BRIDGEPORT SCHOOL BOARD – The school board will discuss lunch prices for the upcoming school year and hear proposals for middle school trips to Washington, D.C., and New York City during its meeting 7 p.m. Monday, April 20, at 2107 15th Street.

PARADISE SCHOOL BOARD – The PISD school board will meet 6:30 p.m. Monday, April 20, to announce a lone finalist for superintendent. The board will also discuss textbook adoption and TEKS certification, bad weather waiver approval and whether or not to offer reasonable assurance of employment for para-professionals and auxiliary personnel. The meeting is at the board room, 338 School House Road.

DECATUR SCHOOL BOARD – The board will consider teacher contracts as well as non-Chapter 21 contracts at Monday’s meeting. The agenda also includes textbook certification and regular monthly reports. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a closed session followed by the open session at 7 p.m. at the DISD Administration Building, 307 S. Cates.

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