LEWISTON, NY – – The Depew Wildcats had to overcome an early deficit against the Eden Raiders on Friday afternoon, but their perseverance – led by timely hits – enabled the Wildcats to stun the 2015 Class B State Champion Raiders in extra innings, 7-6, at Niagara Wheatfield High School.

Eden gained an early 2-0 lead due to a fielding error and a sacrifice fly that scored the Raiders’ first runs of the game. In the 2nd inning, freshman Mattie Woodard drove home another Eden run on an opposite field RBI triple. Following the RBI triple, another throwing error gave the Raiders a much larger cushion, 4-0. Depew starter Karsen Cotton forced the Raiders to get two early outs in the 3rd inning but Eden senior Erica Cross knocked home the Raiders’ fifth unanswered run to go up 5-0 after three stanzas.

“After the second or third inning you could feel that we were deflated,” Depew head coach Dan Seelig said following the game. “I did say to [our girls], you’ve got two ways you can go, you can feel sorry for yourself or we can compete.”

Seelig’s pep talk ended up working for Depew as the Wildcats roared back from their 5-0 deficit in the 5th inning which was all started by Cotton, who helped her own cause in the circle, with an RBI single with the bases loaded with no outs. Following Cotton’s RBI single, Abby Tomasik hit a 2-RBI single that cut Eden’s lead to two. Following Tomasik’s clutch hit, Annie DiPirro hit a 2-RBI double that tied the game up, 5-5.

“Right now, I am through the roof with confidence in them,” Cotton said about her team’s offensive success in the 5th inning and in games past. “I know they can come through with a hit when we need it, or come through with a bunt or anything we need I know they can do it. Just like they did today, five runs in an inning, that was big for us.”

After a solid inning in the circle from Cotton, the Wildcats scored their sixth unanswered run in the 6th inning off an Eden throwing error, enabling Depew to need three outs to win the Section VI Class B Crossover game. However, Eden had other things on their mind. With runners at 2nd and 1st following an intentional walk of Eden’s powerful Haley Kobie, Paiton Basinski grounded out that enabled both runners to advance one base. The first pitch to next batter got passed the Depew catcher scoring the tying run and making it a 6-6 game in the top of the 7th.

In the 8th inning, Abby Nicometi played hero for the second consecutive playoff game as she drove home the game-winning run, partially due to a fielding error by Eden that helped Depew score the winning run.

Hidden behind the loss, fifth year Varsity pitcher Jill Murray pitched a phenomenal game. Her changeup in the middle stages of the game was the achilles heel for Depew’s hitters, but they overcame her stellar pitching that has come in her five years with the Eden softball program.

Depew will face Section V Class B champion, Bath-Haverling, following their 8-4 win over LeRoy earlier this evening. The Far West Regional game will also be played at Niagara Wheatfield next Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 pm. The winner will advance the Final Four which will be played at Moreau Park in South Glens Falls, New York, on Saturday, June 11.

“I never went to Regionals,” Cotton said about the opportunity ahead. “I’ve been on the team since I was in 7th grade, and I’m a junior now, I think this is a huge opportunity and I want to win so bad. I’ve never went this far with another team.”

Giddy up! It’s time for the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course this Saturday! The anticipation of the Kentucky Derby winner trying to bring home the 2nd leg of the Triple Crown never gets old.  This will be the 141st running of the Preakness Stakes and the 3-year-olds will be racing a distance of 1 3/16 miles to see who will be wearing the blanket of Black-Eyed Susans.

If you’ve been following my columns I’ve been on the Nyquist (#3) bandwagon previous to last year’s Breeders Cup…and I don’t plan on changing.  On paper there is not a better 3-year-old in this race or perhaps in the world.  He has won all eight of his starts including the Kentucky Derby at six different tracks, at six different distances, and can close late or lead from wire to wire.  I cannot see him losing this race.  He has beaten his nearest competitor Exaggerator four times.

There will be 10 other contenders fighting for the place and show pools in the race such as Exaggerator (#5), who finished second to Nyquist in the Derby but was closing fast.  This will be the fifth time they are racing against each other.  Stradivari (#11), trained by Todd Pletcher, who won his last two races by over 25 lengths…albeit, against weaker company.  Pletcher remarkably has run only seven horses in the Preakness Stakes.  The Bob Baffert trained horse Collected (#7) is an interesting horse who won the G3 Lexington Stakes in April and should be rested and ready to run. Abiding Star (#9), who after breaking his maiden after seven starts has gone on to win five in a row, but has no graded wins.  Awesome Speed (#4) who finished 4th in the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes. Cherry Wine (#1), trained by Dale Romans, who finished 3rd in the G1 Blue Grass Stakes.  Fellowship (#10) has finished in the money in three of his last four starts, all graded races although he only has two wins in 12 starts.  Lani (#6) the only other horse besides Nyquist and Exaggerator in the Preakness who also ran in the Kentucky Derby may also make a run now that he has been more acclimated in the U.S. after traveling half away around the world.  Laoban (#8) is a five time starter who has never won…enough said.  Uncle Lino (#2), who previously lost to Exaggerator twice will be running for the first time outside of California and should be nice and rested.  Some pundits are calling this a weak Preakness field of horses.  I totally disagree because when you have a super horse like Nyquist all the other horses look ordinary.

Now, with all that being said, here is how I will play the Preakness with my $50.00 bankroll. The smart bet would be to put it all on Nyquist to win but the gambler in me is looking for a slightly better payoff.  This is what I will be playing:  A $1.00 exacta with 3/ALL, $10.00.  A $0.50 trifecta 3/5,7,11/ALL, $13.50.  A $0.10 superfecta 3/5,7,11/ALL/ALL, $21.60. And for kicks I’ll play a $1.00 exacta 5,6,7,9,11/3 for $5.00.  Total bets $50.10.

Chances are I’m not going win much money if these wagers come in but as long as Nyquist wins the race I’ll be a happy camper. Keep in mind…if it is an off track I like Nyquist’s chances of winning even better.

Jay Cats

@catager

ConfToday begins the Conference Finals in the NBA. With the Raptors game seven victory over the Miami Heat Sunday afternoon, there are now four teams still standing. In the East, we have the top two seeds in the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Raptors. Miami has won eight games in a row, and have been well rested, while Toronto is on their way to Cleveland for game one on Tuesday. In the west, the Warriors will look to repeat against the Oklahoma City Thunder with game one tonight. What teams have the edge? What bench players will have the biggest impact? And what stars will falter? Check out my predictions!

Tonight in the West, we have the dream match up between the Warriors and the Thunder. Two athletic teams that have MVP caliber type guards who can dominate a game on both sides of the floor. For Golden State, it is the “Splash Brothers”, two of the best pure shooters the NBA has ever seen. For OKC, it is “Lightning and Thunder” with the ability to get on a hot streak from deep, but yet throw it down with authority. Lets be honest, this is the series everyone wanted to see, not the Warriors against the Spurs. Steph Curry came back from his knee injury and put on a clinic in game four against the Trail Blazers, scoring 17 points in overtime alone to lead the Warriors to a 135-125 victory. The first unanimous MVP award winner is in search of a repeat and their is only one guard remaining out west in his way. Russell Westbrook is arguably the second best guard in the league behind the MVP. While some may criticize Westbrook for his erratic play and shot attempts, it has been the former UCLA Bruin who has been driving the ship for the Thunder.

The match up to watch however will be to see who checks Kevin Durant. Will it be Andre Iguodala or the brash and confident Draymond Green. Durant has the advantage over either player, and while they won’t be able to completely shut KD down, they have the ability to disrupt his game, especially Green. Another fun match up on the floor to watch will be the bigs. Green and Andrew Bogut against Serge Ibaka and Steven Adams. Expect to see some physical play, especially if Adams and Green match up on the block. We should see some good banging and trash talk.

As mentioned above, the Cavaliers and LeBron have swept their opponents in the first two series hitting a barrage of three pointers. It appears that LBJ, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love are finally gelling. After Irving and Love missed time in the NBA Finals last year, you know the fire is there to get back and win a ring for the city of Cleveland. After a slow start for Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the duo picked it up and secured Toronto’s first ever appearance in the Conference Finals. Right away, the Cavaliers have the edge. They are well rested, have home court advantage, and have arguable the best player in the game in James. As always look for back up guard Matthew Delladova to have an impact on this series with his pesky play. The Australian is not afraid to throw his body around and disrupt the game. For the Raptors, the big question mark surrounds center Jonas Valanciunas. The big man suffered an ankle injury in the series against the Heat. The Raptors received excellent player from back up Bismarck Biyombo who was a difference maker.

We have seen what the big three for Cleveland have brought to the playoffs. If the Raptors want to make a series out of this, Lowry and DeRozan will have to play very well. Lowry has played well against the Cavs this season, shooting 66% of his shots this season. So who wins this series? This one is easy. The Cavaliers will advance to their second straight NBA Finals. The only way the Raptors will be able to stay alive is if the Cavs become cold from deep. You live by the three, you die by the three.

So who wins? I have the Cavaliers in five games, and the Thunder winning game 7 on the road. Let us know who you have advancing!

Baseball:southemblem

The Billies baseball team holds an 8-1 record in their league. This is a considerably strong record for the team at this point in the season and they look to finish the season just as strong as they have started it. The team is very well rounded and has skilled players at every position. Owen Maley, the closing pitcher, talked about the importance of strong pitching, “Our pitching and defense has carried us through the 1st half of the year. We didn’t get off to a good start with our bats, so our pitching has had to keep us in most games this year.” South has plenty of talent on the mound along with Maley. Joe Zanelotti and Nate DelSignore are only a few names that provide a boost on the mound. There is also a lot of talent in the field. Lead by DI bound outfielder Jack Holyoke, the Billies fielders have kept the team in many games this year while they struggled with the bats. Junior Ryan Burns, who is the starting shortstop, added this about the team’s defense, “Our best aspect this year is our defense. We’re not the type of team that’s going to put up double digit runs every game but instead we’re the type of team that doesn’t allow double digit runs. If our defense plays well and our pitchers throw strikes, our team will be winning or at least have the opportunity to win. So far, that’s exactly what we’ve done.” Junior Mitchell Binda who leads off and starts in left field, did a nice job putting the teams early success into perspective saying “everyone is doing their job and we have different people leading our team to victory. Nobody tries to do too much and everyone knows their role.” This says a lot about the team. Everybody contributes on any given day and that is the attitude that will continue to bring success to the Williamsville South Varsity Baseball team.

Softball:

The South Softball team has had to overcome some challenges in the early weeks of their season. The team is very young with only one senior and two 8th graders. It’s not very often you see 8th graders outnumbering seniors on a high school team but the softball team has made it work this year. The first couple of games were rough, but after that the team has been on a hot streak turning their season around and becoming contenders. Haley Muehlbauer, a junior who starts in right field, noted the huge turnaround the team had, “We came out as a young team in the beginning of the season unsure of how to play with each other. We didn’t start off too strong but now we are all so close and when we are on top of our game we really make things happen. We even put things together and beat a strong Starpoint team 12-3 which was a huge win for our young team.” The positive of having a young team is that there will be many strong years to come for South softball. Rachel Mackowiak, the team’s only senior, belives the young team will develop “We’ve had a rough start but we’ve clicked together these past few weeks. We are a very young team. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the team develops over the next few years. South softball will be a team to look out for.” Softball hopes to continue their improvement into the second half of the season and into the future.

Boys Lacrosse:

The boys lacrosse team has really shown that they want to make a name for themselves and turn the program in the right direction. The team has improved greatly from the past couple of years finding some new players that give the team what it needs to be the best. There is a lot of collective experience and skill throughout the team and that can be seen in the team’s performance this year. South has lost close games to Williamsville North, Nichols, and Lancaster showing that this team can hang in there with some of the best. Some notable wins are against North Tonawanda (18-2) and Amherst (17-5). They also beat rivals Williamsville East on home turf in a huge battle to show which that they are now contenders alongside the other Williamsville schools. Chad Zappia, the senior goaltender, says the team has grown this year, “It’s fun to see how we’ve bulked up our program. We went from being one of the worst, to a team that is contending against the powerhouses.” Boys lacrosse has a 7-5 record as of May 8th, but the strong play suggests that this record will improve by the end of the year as the team enters the finals stretch of games.

Girls Lacrosse:

The girl’s lacrosse team has had a rough start to their season but hopes to turn things around and win some more games as they start to play some of the teams in their league a second time. Senior defender Elizabeth Crawford commented on her teams start and said “We started our season off a little rocky, but the team has really come together and I’m optimistic about the next half of our season.” The girl’s lacrosse team is also a fairly young team with a total of 9 freshmen and sophomores. Katelyn Kardaman, a senior who is a leader of this young group, is happy to lead this young team and is excited for the future, “It’s been such an honor to help lead such a great group of girls this year. We had trouble putting together a complete game at the beginning of the season, but we have used these as a learning experience and have started to find our rhythm. I’m excited for what’s to come.” The team should have a strong second half of the season as they improve every day and look to better their 2-8 record.

Tennis:

Last but not least, we have the tennis team. After a team of only 3 players last year, this year has been a complete turnaround with 13 guys on the team and a lot of depth. The team has a record of 3-5 in division and has found some strong singles players and some strong doubles pairs. At singles, the team has seen Zach Gewurz, Tyler Tiede, Jack Schultz, and Jack Petrie have success. The first doubles team has consistently been Noah Smith and Evan Manna, who have been successful and should find themselves as the doubles team at ECIC’s. Zach Gewurz, the team’s best player and captain, says this year has been different than others, “Last year we struggled to have a full roster and this year we have so much depth throughout the team. Also, the presence of the seniors has brought a more fun atmosphere and makes me look forward to playing every day.” Gewurz has high expectations for himself the rest of this season, “I’m looking to get through my next two matches including a tough opponent against Iroquois. I need to improve my serve over the next few weeks before ECIC’s and sectionals. I’m hoping to finish top 5 in ECIC’s and reach sectionals for the first time in hopes of placing well and getting a bid to the state tournament.” We hope to see Zach do well down the road as well as the rest of the team.

 

-Evan Manna
@mannacl

Giddy Up! Here we are again for the 142nd running of the Kentucky Derby.  This year seems as good as any other year with the quality of horses.  I think what will set the tone this year is how the horses break from the gate.  There is a lot of speed coming from the post positions 13 through 20 and they will determine the pace.  With the 20 horse field the jockeys will need to get out clean, settle into their position and time their movements to win this race. If Danzing Candy is not on the lead after the first turn it could be anyone’s race.  I don’t think a horse will go wire to wire unless the fractions are slower than normal.  Look for a closer to come from off the pace to claim victory.

If you remember my column from the Breeders Cup I called Nyquist to be my early Derby favorite and I haven’t changed my mind. He is the class of the field and even trainer, Todd Pletcher, who will be sending out Destin and Outwork in the Derby says, “He deserves more respect and credit than he’s getting. Based on what I’ve seen, he’s still a little underrated.”  Below are my contenders and how I will be wagering my $50.00 bank roll on the Kentucky Derby.

My handicapping contenders:

#3 – Creator – Took him six starts to break his maiden but then two races later goes on to win the G1 Arkansas Derby.

#5 – Gun Runner – Four wins out of five starts with his last being an easy win in the Louisiana Derby by 4 ½ lengths.

#9 – Destin – After a shaky first three starts Todd Pletcher seems to have Destin back on track with two graded wins in his last two starts including the G2 Tampa Derby.

#11 – Exaggerator – Ran a great race in the Santa Anita Derby winning by over six lengths albeit on a sloppy track in his last start. The Desormeaux’s can be the first brothers to win the Derby as trainer and jockey.

#13 – Nyquist – Hard not to love this horse. Seven wins in seven starts. He can win on the lead or close in the stretch. He’s won with six horse fields and 14 horse fields; he’s won in California, Kentucky and Florida and at distances from 5f to 1 1/8 miles. He can do it all.

#14 – Mohaymen – Very disappointing finish in the Florida Derby in his last prep race before the Derby. He was five for five previous to that race with four of them being G2 wins.

#15 – Outwork – Big win in his last start in the Wood Memorial on a muddy track. He’ll need to stay up front near the lead if he wants to win.

#17 – Mor Spirit – Has been the favorite in all seven of his races and has finished no worse than second. He won’t be the favorite in the Derby but don’t discount him closing late.

#19 – Brody’s Cause – Can upset the field. He likes the Kentucky dirt. Three wins in four starts with two wins being G1 including the Kentucky Bluegrass Stakes.

#20 – Danzing Candy – if jockey Mike Smith can get on the lead with slow fractions he can steal the race.

My long shots:

#8 – Lani – A horse that runs in Japan and who also won the UAE Derby. Excellent breeding but he’s a nut in the paddock.

#10 – Whitmore – He is bred to go the distance and should be closing fast and his jockey Victor Espinoza has won the past two Derbies.

#16 – Shagaf – Throw out the Wood Memorial which was run in the mud and Shagaf is three for three. Jockey change to Joel Rosario may be the difference.

My wagers: $4.00 W/P/S, #13, $12.00.  $1.00 Exacta Box, #13, #17, #11, $6.00. $0.50 Trifecta Wheel, 1st #13, 2nd #5, #9, #11, #14, #17, 3rd #3, #5, #9, #11, #14, #15, #17, #19, #20, $14.00.  $1.00 Exacta 1st  #3, #5, #9, #11, #14, #15, #17, #19, #20, 2nd #13, $9.00.  Long Shot Bets: $3 each to win on the #8, #10, $16 $9.00.  Total = $50.00.

Jay Cats

Well…it looks like it could be a free for all in this years Kentucky Oaks with the highly favored Songbird not running due to a fever last month. Songbird had been so impressive I thought trainer Jerry Hollandorfer would have considered her for the Derby instead. Either way it’s not to be and that’s a shame. There are still a lot of good horses running in the Oaks but now they will be fighting to win and not for 2nd place which would have been the case.

I’m leaning toward Land Over Sea to win the Oaks. She was impressive in her last start winning the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks after leaving California and Songbird behind to whom she raced against five times and finishing 2nd to her three times.

The favorite, Rachel’s Valentina, will also be in the money. Trainer, Todd Pletcher, has Johnny Valesquez back on her and he will be near the lead throughout. She should be able to go the distance but I think Land Over Sea will be closing fast and beat her late in the stretch.

My third horse can be one of many but I’ll go with Lewis Bay. She has won two G2 races at the distance and in all five of her starts she never finished worse then second. She did lose to Cathryn Sophia but that race was only one mile and I don’t think Cathryn Sophia can win at 1 1/8 miles.

Other contenders, Terra Promessa, winner of her last four starts, Cathryn Sophia, who has had all five of her starts with Beyer figures in the 90’s winning four of them. I’ve got a $25.00 bank roll and this is what I’m playing: $1 Trifecta Box – 13, 11, 3 – $1 Exacta Box – 13, 11, 3 – $6.00, $1 Exacta – 13/All – $13.00

By Jay Cats

Cleveland's Big 3 will not have an easy time with the Hawks.

The Hawks will have to solve Cleveland’s Big 3 to avoid a repeat of last year’s ECF.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off a 4 game sweep against the tough, gritty, Detroit Pistons. The Atlanta Hawks got by the young, scrappy Boston Celtics in 6 games. Last year, in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs swept the Hawks and went on to play the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Championship.

The Cavaliers are a totally different team than they were last year. Head coach David Blatt has been fired and Tyronn Lue seems to have transitioned this team from a methodical isolation offense to ball movement and up tempo. The Cavs are averaging 103.5 points per game in the post-season and are 2nd in  three point field goal percentage (41.3). For the first time since the 2011 NBA Finals, LeBron James is not the leading scorer on his team (in a series) Kyrie Irving has been rejuvenated in the playoffs. Irving is averaging 27.5 points per game and  is shooting 47% from behind the arc. James is averaging 22.8 points, 9 rebounds and 6. 8 assists per game. Kevin Love continues to be the best 3rd option in all of basketball. Love is playing like he did in Minnesota. He is spreading the floor by shooting the three, posting up and rebounding.  He is averaging 18.8 points and 12 rebounds per game. The Cavs are the deepest team in the NBA. Matthew Dellavedova, Richard Jefferson, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye and Timofey Mozgov, can all contribute in a big way on any given night.
That Atlanta Hawks are the definition of a balanced team on offense. They have 8 players who are averaging over 9 points per game. The problem here is they don’t have a guy they can go to consistently at the end of a game. They remind me of the Arizona Cardinals of the NFL, they had a very good regular season but they don’t have a legitimate super star. Jeff Teague is leading the team averaging 16.5 points per game and Paul Milsap is averaging 16.3 points per game. The Hawks have the same philosophy as the San Antonio Spurs, pass up a good shot for a great shot. They play very unselfish and don’t care who gets the credit or who takes the shots.
In order for the Hawks to win this series they will have to outscore the Cavs. I don’t see that happening. Right now, Cleveland is looking like the team we all thought they would when LeBron James wrote the “Coming Home” letter. Hawks SM Kyle Korver will continue to struggle in the playoffs because he won’t get any room to get his shot off. If he is not making shots and spreading the floor, he is not much of a factor. The Hawks play hard but they just don’t have the weapons to compete with the high flying Cavaliers.
I like the Cavs to sweep this series. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Hawks win Game 3… but other than that they have no chance. The Cavs are too deep, too skilled and too motivated right now. They are playing with a chip on their shoulder reminiscent of the way the Kansas City Royals did after they lost to the San Fransciso Giants in the World Series. The Cavs are focused, determined and will not take any game for granted.
Follow the Sports Whisperer on Twitter: @Montetjwitter11 and listen to the Monte Cristo Sports Thing on WRNJ Radio Thursday’s at 7pm.
Monte Perez @Montetjwitter11

Monte Perez
@Montetjwitter11

draft

Doug Whaley did it again. The Buffalo Bills had another solid draft class, filling key needs with players that can have an immediate impact right away. Buffalo used their connections at Clemson to snag an excellent rush defender, moved up in the second round to snag a middle linebacker from Alabama, and made some noise when they drafted a quarterback in round four with one of the strongest arms since JaMarcus Russell.

In the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, the Bills selected Clemson defensive end Shaq Lawson with the 19th overall selection. The first 18 picks could not have gone any better for the Bills as their first option fell to them. Some mock drafts projected Lawson to be selected as high as the early teens. One question mark lingering around the 6’4” 260lb end was his right shoulder, which has been injured since his freshman season. The Bills medical staff cleared him, and Whaley and company jumped at the opportunity. As a junior, Lawson recorded 24.5 tackles for a loss in 15 games, including 12.5 sacks and a forced fumble. With the departure of Mario Williams to Miami, Lawson will fill an immediate void.

For their second round selection, the Bills traded up 8 spot to 41 to select inside limebacker Reggie Ragland from Alabama. Buffalo was so set on taking Ragland, that they started calling every team in the second round, looking for a trade partner. Like Lawson, there was a medical issue that may have hurt Ragland’s stock. The NFL Network reported that Ragland had an enlarged aorta, in which Whaley said the Bills medically cleared him and that a hear specialist told him he was “fine”.

The Bills went defense again in round three selecting defensive tackle Adolphus Washington from Ohio State. This was another excellent pick as it filled another need. Washington’s versatility will help him succeed in Rex Ryan’s multiple front defense. Washington does come to Buffalo with a past as he faced charges in January and was suspended by Ohio State for the Fiesta Bowl, after he was arrested for solicitation in December outside a Columbus, Ohio motel. Washington pleaded guilty to the charge, which were later dropped in February.

With the 139 overall pick, the Bills selected Ohio State quarterback Cardale Jones in the fourth round. Jones exploded onto the scene when he took over for JT Barrett and led the Buckeyes to a national championship in 2015. After a disappointing 2015-16 season, Jones made the decision to leave school enter the NFL draft. With comparisons to draft bust JaMarcus Russell, Jones had the strongest arm in the class. This is the fifth quarterback the Bills have selected in the draft since the great Jim Kelly retired. Though the team is encouraged with the play of Tyrod Taylor, his current contract situation leaves a factor of uncertainty. It was time for the Bills to draft a quarterback, and they did.

In round 5, the Bills selected running back Jonathan Williams from Arkansas. Now at this point in the draft, players selected are less certain to make the 53 man roster. Williams is not a lock to make the roster, but if he does, he will add depth behind LeSean McCoy, Karlos Williams, and Mike Gillislee. Williams missed all of last season with torn ligaments in his foot, but would have been a 3rd or 4th round selection.

With two selections in round 6, the Bills drafted speedster wide receiver Kolby Listenbee from Texas Christian. As the number 3 wide out on the roster, Listenbee caught 30 passes for 597 yards and 5 touchdowns. With the loss of Chris Hogan to the New England Patriots, there is a void that needs to be filled. Listenbee will be competing against Marquise Goodwin, Leonard Hankerson, Greg Salas, Jarrett Boykin, Greg Little, and Dezmin Lewis for a roster spot. It will be interesting to see who will win in a race, Listenbee or the Olympian Goodwin. Pretty sure we called this pick during the week.

With the 218 selection, the Bills selected cornerback Kevon Seymour from Southern California (USC). Seymour ran a 4.39 40 yard dash at the combine which was tied for eighth best among all 2016 combine participants. His best shot to make the 53 main roster will be as a fourth or fifth cornerback who will have to find a roll on special teams.

After the draft, the Bills signed 15 undrafted free agents. Three of those players have a western New York connection.  The Bills signed former University at Buffalo and former Will South quarterback Joe Licata. Licata finished his four year career with 9485 passing yards along with 76 touchdowns and 37 interceptions. The fourth and final Gronkowski brother, Glenn, was signed by the Bills out of Kansas State. The former Will North Spartan caught 15 passes over three seasons and scored five touchdowns.  The final WNY connection is Robert Kugler who played at Orchard Park through his final junior season, before moving to Pennsylvania for his season year and then continuing his college playing career at Purdue.

The New York Mets exploded on to  the scene last year  with their young and talented pitching staff…. Along with their success… came Nicknames.

(L-R) Thor, the deGrominator and the Dark Knight.

Matt Harvey is called The Dark Knight, Noah Syndergaard is called Thor and David Wright is called Captain America. I have dubbed 2nd baseman Neil Walker and Outfielder Michael Conforto… Thunder and Lightening. I have also went ahead and given Conforto a worthy nickname. “The Natural”
Last season, “The Natural” played in 56 games. He batted .270, hit 9 home runs, had 26 RBI’s and finished 2nd on the Mets in slugging percentage (.506). The Mets management and manger Terry Collins have basically treated Conforto with “Kid Gloves”. Finally they stopped doing that this year and have let him grow and learn on the job. Conforto is batting 3rd in the lineup and the results have been amazing. He is batting .338, 1st on the Mets, 10th in the MLBHis slugging percentage is .615 3rd on the Mets, 15th in the MLB. On Base percentage of .429, 1st on the Mets, 11th in the MLB.
image

The “Thunder and Lightening” duo of Michael Conforto and Neil Walker have bolstered the Mets’ solid lineup even further.

Mets announcer Keith Hernandez said that Conforto has a swing reminiscent of former Yankees great Don Mattingly. That is very high praise. Conforto never seems to be too high or too low. For a young player (23 years old) he is handling the bright lights and big city of New York like a seasoned veteran.
When Daniel Murphy signed with the Washington Nationals Mets fans were in mourning. I kept telling Mets fans on Twitter to just wait and see how good Neil Walker will be. Walker is a steady professional who is very consistent. But, even I didn’t expect Walker to be this good. Walker and Short Stop Asdrubal Cabrera are the only two Mets players to play every game so far and  Walker leads the Mets and the MLB with  9 Home Runs.
He has exceeded all expectations and I would be shocked if he is not named NL player of the Month.
Walker and Conforto “Thunder and Lightening” have been a great boost to the Mets lineup. We all expect Yoenis Cespedes to hit 25 plus home runs and drive in over 90 RBI’s. That will happen but we don’t know what to expect from David Wright. With his back injury we can expect him to fade as the season progresses. Terry Collins should have this as his everyday lineup.
1- Curtis Granderson
2-Neil Walker
3- Michael Conforto
4- Yoenis Cespedes
5- Lucas Duda
6-Asdrubal Cabrera
7- David Wright
8-Travis d’Arnaud
9- Pitcher
The Mets have the pitching to compete with any team in the National League. Now with the emergence of “Thunder and Lightening” they have the offense too. Mets fans enjoy this tidal wave of victories, we all know…. winning has been few and far between for this franchise. Let’s Go Mets!
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Monte Perez @Montetjwitter11

Monte Perez
@Montetjwitter11

Major League Baseball has suspended Miami Marlins All-Star second baseman Dee Gordon for 80 games for testing positive for PEDs, it was announced early Friday morning.

According to ESPN, the MLB reported that a test Gordon took showed excess Testosterone and Clostebol, two substances banned by the League. Neither the Marlins nor Gordon have released statements yet.

Gordon is coming off a 2015 to remember in which he was voted a starter for the NL’s All-Star team, won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove, and led the NL in batting average and stolen bases. He signed a 5-year $50 million extension with Miami in January.

Gordon is considered one of the League’s brightest young players who will be a star for years to come. The news is very disappointing.

By Matt Morris @Flat_Manigen74

By Matthew Morris
@Flat_Manigen74