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The passing of long-time Clarkton coach, teacher and administrator Harold Ford headlined the July sports stories. Ford coached Clarkton to a state basketball championship, but was remembered more for his influence on the community.

Coach Harold Ford Remembered as Role Model, Inspiration, Father Figure, A Blessing

Jason Jones was named the new head baseball coach at West Bladen. Jones has coached West Columbus’ baseball team for the last 6 years.

Five Bladen County baseball players were named All-Southeastern Conference – East Bladen’s Evan Pait, Ethan Johnson and Tyler Johnson and West Bladen seniors Alex Brisson and Devon Strange.

Nine Bladen County athletes – 5 from West Bladen (Kylie Durden, Rylee Chadwick, Mackenzie Singletary, Jessalynn Vendrick, Madison Taylor) and 4 from East Bladen (Karli Priest, Laura Davisson, Emma Turbeville, Mariah Smith)– were named to the All-Southeastern Conference softball team.

Seven Bladen County athletes – 4 from East Bladen (Maya McDonald, Acee Campbell, Heidi Rebollar, Merritt Martin) and 3 from West Bladen (Hannah Hester, Makayla Wright, Eva Ayala-Martinez)– have been named to the All-Southeastern Athletic Conference girls’ soccer team.

East Bladen Coach Jay Raynor coached the East team to a 3-3 tie in the 2022 North Carolina Coaches Association East-West Boys Soccer All-Star game and was most impressed by the level of play and the character of the participants. East Bladen’s Maya McDonald played on the winning East team in the NCCA East-West Girls All-Star game.

Chase Bryan knocked in the tying and winning runs, and Ashton Davis struck out 15 West Duplin batters as Bladen County claimed the Dixie Youth Baseball Majors Division 2 State Tournament Championship with a 3-2 victory.

Members of the Bladen County All-Star State Champs were: Chase Bryan, Luke Bryant, Gauge King, Ashton Davis, Corben Chadwick, Sawyer King, Cole Brisson, Drake Gause, Andrew Wren, Devan Stanley, and Gavin Brisson. Coaches were Keith Wren, Jason Bryant and Jonathan McMillan.

Maycee Kinlaw turned in her 3rd strong pitching performance of the weekend as Bladen County defeated Randolph County 5-2 to win the State-Wide Activities Committee’s 10-and-Under Softball State Championship. In her 3 victories in the tournament, Kinlaw struck out 36 batters in 14 innings and only allowed 3 runs on 5 hits.

Members of the Bladen County All-Stars were: Anna Claire Walters, Maycee Kinlaw, Mollie Sasser, Adyson Carroll, Racquel Whittington, Avianna Whittington, Keri Faye Burgess, Laikyn Rogerson, Jeniyah Whittington, Khloe Campbell, Kaylee Fisher, Caitlynn (Caity) McLaurin and Tinsley Allen. Head Coach is Dom Whittington. Assistant Coaches were Jerry Campbell and Stanley Sasser.

Ashton Davis and Cole Brisson teamed up to pitch a 2-hit shutout and strikeout 15 batters as they led Bladen County to a 5-0 victory over Alabama in the Dixie Youth Baseball Majors Division 2 World Series.

After a rain-delayed 7-inning 2-1 loss to Virginia, Bladen County pounded out 13 hits and claimed a 13-3 mercy rule victory over the Alabama state champions in the Dixie Youth Baseball Majors Division 2 World Series. Bladen was eliminated by Virginia in their next game.