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Homer Pel's Fabulous Season - History of Claiborne Parish
BY Susan T. Herring Editor, The Guardian-Journal
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It was late evening May 3, 1979, when the Pelican Baseball Team lifted Coach Kenneth Hood over their shoulders to celebrate the first baseball State Championship ever won at Homer High. After traveling to Berwick High School, they had waited all day due to a rain delay, before starting the championship game against the Walker Wildcats.

Overcast, and under threat of rain throughout the game, Homer trailed till the sixth inning--then with two outs, the Pels scored three runs, giving the Pelicans the 3-2 victory.

All three of Homer's runs came in the sixth inning. Mike Richardson walked. Todd Young and Jay Collins got singles. Joe Heckel was hit by a pitch, scoring Richardson. John Lee hit a grounder and was safe on first on an error, scoring Young. The score was tied at 2-2. Tuggle's hit to second was mishandled, which scored Collins for the go ahead run.

In the bottom of the seventh, Homer, ahead by one, needed only one more out to win. With two on base, and three balls called on the batter, Tuggle went to the mound. He threw another ball and loaded the bases. Walker's cleanup batter stepped to the plate. He hit the third pitch straight to Tuggle, who threw it home for the out--and the win.

The Pels finished their spectacular season with a 17-1 record, which included playoff victories against Winnfield (10-9), McCall (18-1), Opelousas Catholic (3-1), and John Curtis (9-8).

At the beginning of the 1979 season, a tornado had ripped through the Homer ballpark, forcing the Pels to play home games elsewhere. The Pels had won the 1AA District championships in 1977 and 1978, and had hopes of making it three-in-a-row.

The Pels opened the season with a non-district, 11-7, win over Haughton on Feb. 27. Homer catcher Gram Meadors walloped two doubles and a single to knock in six runs. Mike Richardson and starting pitcher Jimmy Tuggle both belted out three hits and scored three runs for the Pels.

Tuggle gave an all-around brilliant performance in the second game of the season against Springhill--striking out 18, giving up one hit and walking three, as the Pelicans blanked the Lumberjacks, 6-0. Tuggle had two doubles and a single for 2 RBIs and Meadors had two hits for 3 RBIs.

On March 8, Ouachita High School in Monroe would hand Homer their only defeat of the year, beating them 4-1. Four days later, starting pitcher Tuggle and relief pitcher John Lee would combine for 14 strikeouts and beat Ruston 10-2. The Pels racked up nine of their ten points in the second and third innings, after Jay Collins got them started with a bases-loaded single.

When Tuggle was on the mound, the lineup consisted of Meadors behind the plate, James Spillers at first, Todd Young at second, John Lee at short, Mike Richardson at third, Jay Collins in left field, Joe Heckel in center, and Randy Smith in right. When Lee took the mound, Tuggle moved to first, Spillers to outfield, Young to short and Robert Greene played second base.

Other players who saw action were outfielders Jay McKenzie, Dennis Fitzgerald, and Glen Kyle; infielders Matthew Greene, Adrian Compton, and Mike Legendre. Coaches were Kenneth Hood and Ronnie Beard.

Behind the combined two-hit pitching of Lee and Tuggle, Homer defeated Sibley 12-1. Tuggle led the Pelican attack with three doubles, while Meadors had a three-run homer and a double.

In their first district game, the Pelicans shut out Jonesboro-Hodge 5-0. Tuggle had 14 strike-outs, two hits, and no walks. Greene had three RBI's for the Pels.

Tuggle faced only 15 batters in the 11-0 rout of Plain Dealing, giving them their second district win. Tuggle allowed just one hit in the five-inning game, sitting down 11 and walking one. Greene, Spillers and Heckel each had two hits.

Homer picked up their third district win, in a 16-1 massacre of the Ringgold Redskins. Lee pitched a five inning no-hitter. Collins and Tuggle both went three for four.

On March 29, the Pels traveled to Jonesboro. Tuggle pitched an excellent game--striking out fifteen, walking one, and allowing only two hits. Tuggle had two hits, Collins had a single, and Young scored Greene on a sacrifice fly.

On April 5, the Pelicans crushed Plain Dealing 8-0 to cinch first place in the North Zone of 1AA. Lee went four for four with three RBIs. Tuggle, Spillers, and Greene added two hits each, while Heckel and Collins both had one hit and two RBIs. Tuggle pitched a no-hitter, striking out seventeen and walking one. On defense, Young made two sparkling plays at second base, preventing two possible hits.

The Pelicans picked up another win the next day when the Ringgold Redskins forfeited.

Tuggle pitched his second straight no-hit game on April 12, when Homer beat Springhill 5-2. Tuggle, Collins, and Lee each had two doubles, while Meadors, Collins, Young, Heckel and Lee had singles.

The district playoff game against Coushatta was played at the Louisiana Tech stadium on April 16, due to the tornado damage to Homer's field. Tuggle pitched four innings without a hit, bringing his total to 23 consecutive innings without a hit---and no runs to any district opponent. He struck out ten, walked two, and left the mound after the fourth inning, with the Pels ahead 11-0.

Lee pitched the last three innings, striking out eight, walking four, and giving up three hits, to claim the win over Coushatta, 11-3. James Spillers drove in three runs

Courtesy of The Gaurdian-Journal

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