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Wednesday, November 3, 1999

Hereford stampedes Eagles from playoffs

Staff Writer
SEMINOLE, Nov. 3, 1999 -- Tangibles and intangibles were missing Tuesday night, Pecos Eagles' coach Becky Granado said, from her team's playoff match against the Hereford Whitefaces. And that meant the end to Pecos' 1999 volleyball season.

Top-ranked Hereford did as expected, beating the Eagles by 15-6, 15-5 scores in the area round of the Class 4A playoffs at Seminole, in a match that lasted just 38 minutes.

Hereford wasn't as flashy as last year's state champion Dumas was when they eliminated the Eagles from the playoffs, but the Whitefaces again showed Pecos how far they have to go to get back into competition for the state title.

"Everything they did was better than us," Granado said. "They're such a disciplined team. They're not ranked No. 1 for nothing."

Hereford's quartet of Tori Walker, Michelle Bernhardt, Ashley Fangman and Sarah Griffin dominated play up front after the early going, while the Herd's defense was able to pick up almost every soft spike and dink the Eagles attempted.

"You could tell how slow we were getting to the ball, and they made us look even slower," Granado said. "Even when their passes weren't to the target, the setter was able to go get it."

But aside from those problems, Granado said her returning players would also have to improve mentally as well as physically next season.

"We're going to have to come up with a leader. That's what I think has been lacking the last three years," she said. "They want me to be the leader and I can't, I'm not the one out there playing. They're going to have to do it on their own."

Pecos' only lead came at the outset, when Philonicus Fobbs blocked Fangman to make it 1-0. She would do it again later, to stop a four-point run by Hereford, but would see her own spikes blocked for points at the end of the game by Griffin and Walker and suffered through a frustrating second game on offense and defense.

"It's hard when you have one blocker up there and they have six," Granado said. "We play in such a weak district, the only time she's seen a double block that big was against Clint, and she got frustrated there."

Bernhardt and Walker had kills following Fobbs' second block, as Hereford opened up a 9-2 lead. The Eagles were able to cut that to 9-4 on a bad relay by Ashley Gonzales and a spike of an overset by D'Andra Ortega, but Fangman stopped that rally with a kill, and Walker would finish off the match later with her block of Fobbs and a spike off a quickset by Audra Witowksi.

Things got worse for Pecos in Game 2, as Hereford jumped out to a 10-0 lead. The Eagles finally got on the board in the one area they were even with the Whitefaces in _ serving. Michelle Tabor couldn't handle an Ashley Salcido serve and Dee Dee Molinar would come up with an ace, and Salcido would add a spike in a 5-0 run that halved Hereford's lead.

But that would be all the points Pecos would get. Fobbs had two bad spikes, Griffin would block a dink by Kalyn Lara, and Walker would finish things off with a kill to send Hereford on to the regional quarterfinals.

The Whitefaces improved to 26-7, while Pecos ended their season with a 20-12 mark. "All over, it was a good year, so I guess I can't complain about that," Granado said. "Our kids coming up from the JV have a little more quickness, so hopefully they can come in and help next year."

Hereford's District 3-4A rival, Dumas, had an even faster match in Andrews against Clint. The Lions, who went 10-0 to win the District 2-4A title, lost in 30 minutes to the Demons by 15-2, 15-4 scores.

Juan gone to Detroit in Rangers shake-up

AP Baseball Writer
NEW YORK, Nov. 3, 1999 -- Juan Gonzalez is gone, and Ken Griffey Jr. could be the next huge star to go.

In what might be the first of many big deals this offseason, the Texas Rangers traded Gonzalez to the Detroit Tigers in a nine-player swap Tuesday.

Gonzalez was the AL MVP in 1996 and 1998. The outfielder hit .326 with 39 home runs and 128 RBIs last season for the AL West champions.

"We've been working the last couple of years to acquire a marquee player," Tigers general manager Randy Smith said.

Along with Gonzalez, the Tigers got pitcher Danny Patterson and catcher Gregg Zaun.

"The trade hurts my feelings, because it's after 13 consecutive years with one organization, giving them my best," Gonzalez told Puerto Rico television station Teleonce.

The Rangers received pitchers Justin Thompson, Alan Webb and Francisco Cordero, outfielder Gabe Kapler, catcher Bill Haselman and infielder Frank Catalanotto.

Detroit has until Saturday to exercise a $7.5 million option on Gonzalez, who turned 30 on Oct. 16. He is eligible for free agency after the 2000 season.

"We just weren't prepared to ... go into next season with that over our heads," Rangers general manager Doug Melvin said.

Gonzalez led the Rangers to AL West titles in 1996, 1998 and 1999 but they were eliminated all three times by the eventual World Series champion New York Yankees.

Detroit went 69-92 last season and finished third in the AL Central, 27 1/2 games behind Cleveland in their final season at Tiger Stadium.

The Tigers hope for a fresh start next season when they move into new Comerica Park under newly hired manager Phil Garner.

In 11 seasons with Texas, Gonzalez batted .294 with 340 home runs and 1,075 RBIs.

Thompson, 26, was 9-11 with a 5.11 ERA. He was an All-Star during his first full season in 1997, but has been slowed by injuries.

The trade was announced shortly after Griffey asked Seattle to trade him closer to his Florida home before the start of next season. The Mariners said they would try to accommodate the 1997 AL MVP.

"This has been an extremely difficult decision for me," Griffey said in a joint statement he released with the team. "Mariners fans throughout the Pacific Northwest have been very loyal and devoted to me. I will truly miss them."

Atlanta and Cincinnati are viewed as the front-runners for Griffey. The Braves train in Kissimmee, Fla., driving distance from his home in Orlando. The Reds train in Florida and Griffey grew up in Cincinnati, where his father played for the Big Red Machine in the 1970s.

"With Griffey's news today, I think it's going to be a busy offseason, with a lot of big names," Smith said.

Griffey, an All-Star for the last 10 seasons and a nine-time Gold Glove winner, hit 48 homers this year after hitting 56 in consecutive seasons. The center fielder, who turns 30 later this month, has 398 career homers and is thought to have the best chance among current players of breaking Hank Aaron's record of 755.

"This is not a decision I can quarrel with or argue with, it's only a decision that I can respect," Mariners chairman Howard Lincoln said.

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