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(Springfield) – The West Plains High School Zizzer Pride Band turned in a great performance this past weekend at the Missouri State University – Springfield parade.

The band was among 29 bands participating in the event, and brought home a 1st place win in the Class 4A divison.

The band also received an award in the Outstanding Precision (Marching) category.

Senior Dusty Schulz performing in Reeds Spring Saturday. (Provided)

Senior Dusty Schulz performing in Reeds Spring Saturday. (Provided)

(Reeds Spring) – The Liberty Eagle marching band had a very successful day in Reeds Spring on Saturday.

In the preliminary competition, the band received First place in the Outstanding Drum Major category (Tabi Curtis), as well as Outstanding Soloist (Brendn Burks), and Outstanding Winds.

In finals the band brought home 4th place and was ranked second in Music Effect and Visual performance.

(West Plains) – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Volleyball team picked up two key Region 16 victories on the road last week, defeating Mineral Area College (MAC) 25-12, 20-25, 25-21, 25-22 Thursday, Oct. 16, in Park Hills, Missouri, and Jefferson College 25-12, 17-25, 25-21, 26-24 Friday, Oct. 17, in Hillsboro, Missouri.

The wins up the 17th ranked Grizzlies’ season record to 19-12 as they head into tonight’s match against National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division II powerhouse Kansas City Kansas Community College in Kansas City, Kansas.

Grizzly Volleyball Head Coach Paula Wiedemann said the region wins put the Grizzlies right where they want to be – as the No. 1 seed going into the Region 16 Championship Tournament Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Jefferson College in Hillsboro.

“These were really great wins, playing back-to-back region matches on the road, knowing what was at stake and getting through both of them the way we did, even though we probably didn’t play our best,” she said.

Although the Grizzlies handled both of their opponents pretty well in the first set of each match, the MAC Cardinals and Jefferson Vikings bounced right back to put the pressure on the Grizzlies. “We came out and played exceptionally well in both matches while our opponents struggled a little bit, but we told our players that wouldn’t last, and sure enough, they both turned around and started playing better, forcing us to make adjustments,” Wiedemann said. “I wasn’t thrilled there was a let-down by our players in the second sets, but I really like the way our girls responded after that. We kept fighting, and that’s something we didn’t do well at the beginning of the season.”

Both matches proved to be “gritty” contests for the Grizzlies, and against MAC, the Grizzlies faced a huge crowd, as the Cardinals were preparing for their Midnight Madness basketball activities following the match. “It was a great atmosphere,” the coach said.

Defense proved to be the key to the wins, as the Grizzlies dug 21.5 and 24 balls per set, respectively, against their opponents this weekend. “The way we’ve been playing defense has been key in recent games. It has allowed us to do what we do best offensively, when we play good defense,” Wiedemann said. “The lineup we’re in also has made a difference. The players’ feel for what each other is doing has improved. We’re digging a lot of balls around our block, and that has been the key.”

Statistical leaders for the Grizzlies against MAC included freshman middle attacker Penny Liu, who had 19 kills on 37 attempts with four errors for an attacking percentage of .405; freshman setter Susannah Kelley, who had 42 assists; sophomore outside hitter/defensive specialist Kaili Simmons, who had a passing rating of 2.61; freshman outside hitter Pulotu Manoa, who led the team in blocks with four, including three solos; freshman outside hitter Gabby Edmondson, who led the team in aces with two; and sophomore libero Alyssa Aldag, who led the team in digs with 32.

Against Jefferson, the Grizzlies were led by Liu, who had 21 kills on 35 attempts with four errors for an attacking percentage of .486; Kelley, who had 46 assists; Simmons, who had a passing rating of 2.77; redshirt freshman right side/middle attacker Ashley Bishton, who had three blocks; and Aldag, who had 25 digs.

“The players are pretty focused right now,” Wiedemann said. “Kansas City Kansas is still in the top 10 of the Division II standings, and it’s a home match for them, so this will be another test for us. But we need to play with pressure because that’s how you have to play at this point in the season.

“We need to remember that what we do on our side of the net matters. We’ve got to focus on what we do well and put it together. When we do, the other things take care of themselves,” she added.

For more information about the Grizzly Volleyball team, visit the team’s website at http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/vb/.

(Willow Springs) – Fifth ranked Willow Springs took on the fourth-ranked Ava bears in volleyball action on Monday and won in three sets.

Willow Springs took the second and third sets 25-12 and 25-23, while Ava won the first round 25-19.

Stats for Willow Springs are as follows:

  • Kameron Woody- 3 service points and 8 kills
  • Kaitlyn Perkins- 6 digs
  • Kelsey Stolba- 4 service points, 14 assist and 11 digs
  • Nichole McGrath- 15 service points, 13 kills and 15 digs
  • Kyla Hutsell- 8 service points, 17 assist and 15 digs
  • Grace Bailey- 3 big blocks
  • Cassidy Crewse- 18 digs
  • Allie Tooley- 4 assist, 2 kills and 2 digs
  • Kendra Aldridge- 3 assist
  • Shilo Letterman- 4 service points, 19 kills, 4 blocks and 8 digs

Willow Springs will play Mountain View-Birch Tree at 5 PM Tuesday.

Also, the Willow Springs Bears finish in 4th place at the Zizzer Junior Varsity volleyball tourney on Saturday, losing to Rolla in 2 sets and losing in 3 sets to West Plains JV.

FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2014, file photo, Kansas City Royals players and fans celebrate after Alcides Escobar scores during the first inning of Game 4 of the American League baseball championship series against the Baltimore Orioles in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City fans have come a long, long way from spring training when many hated the young team without a lot of star appeal. The city is now caught up in a love affair with the Royals, and the players are reciprocating, reminding many folks of a bygone era in professional sports.  (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

FILE – In this Oct. 15, 2014, file photo, Kansas City Royals players and fans celebrate after Alcides Escobar scores during the first inning of Game 4 of the American League baseball championship series against the Baltimore Orioles in Kansas City, Mo. Kansas City fans have come a long, long way from spring training when many hated the young team without a lot of star appeal. The city is now caught up in a love affair with the Royals, and the players are reciprocating, reminding many folks of a bygone era in professional sports. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The game had been over for hours. Kauffman Stadium had gone dark. The roars of a sold-out crowd, which had rooted the Kansas City Royals to a sweep of the mighty Los Angeles Angels, had drifted away into the cool night air.

A few miles away, at a bar and grill called McFadden’s, the party was just beginning.

Greg Holland had showed up, the All-Star closer watching with a grin as highlights of the game played on television. Salvador Perez and Jarrod Dyson, both integral parts in the Royals’ playoff push, posed with fans for more pictures than they could count. First baseman Eric Hosmer put down his credit card and for a full hour picked up the tab for hundreds of strangers.

“It’s fun to get to enjoy it with the whole entire city. It’s a special time,” Hosmer said a few days later. “I think the buildup to this, it’s been so long. They’ve been hungry for a winner. What we’re doing now has just been a blast.”

So much so that Hosmer didn’t mind his credit card taking a hit – he shared the $15,000 bar bill with some teammates – after beating the Angels in their AL Divisional Series.

“We realize how bad the fans want it, how bad the city wants it,” Hosmer explained. “I think this team symbolizes the attitude of this city – tough, we’re not going to quit and we’re going to fight to the end. It’s a pretty special bond we’ve created.”

It’s a pretty rare bond, too, in modern professional sports.

As the Royals prepare to play the San Francisco Giants in the World Series on Tuesday night, capping their first postseason appearance since winning the title in 1985, the relationship they have established with their long-suffering fans harkens back to a bygone era.

It’s reminiscent of a time when players lived in the same neighborhood as working-class fans, because they too were working class. When they had to find offseason jobs just to make ends meet, long before million-dollar contracts. When you walked into the barbershop or the supermarket and would see Duke Snider or Red Schoendienst getting a trim or perusing the vegetables.

Only now, players and fans are connecting over drinks at a bar in the trendy Power and Light District of Kansas City. Or they’re connecting on Twitter in 140-word bursts.

Didn’t hear about that one? Well, life-long Royals fan Nicholas Knapple didn’t have the cash for playoff tickets, so he messaged a few players on Twitter with a plea. One of them was Brandon Finnegan. The rookie pitcher promptly hooked him up.

Knapple found himself watching Game 3 of the AL Championship Series against the Baltimore Orioles with his girlfriend and Finnegan’s mom – and an entire section filled with friends and family of other Royals players.

“After the seventh inning, his mom told us we were going downstairs for the celebration,” Knapple said in a phone interview. “So after the game, we got to go down outside the clubhouse. We got to meet Danny Duffy, take pictures. It was unbelievable.”

About as unbelievable as the Royals’ postseason run.

The happy marriage between the Royals and their fans was a rocky relationship earlier this summer. Third baseman Mike Moustakas was getting booed off the field. Manager Ned Yost had gone back to using an alias when he ordered at Starbucks. Even longtime designated hitter Billy Butler was starting to feel the wrath of a fan base that had been pining for success.

Then two fans popped onto the Royals’ radar, and things seemed to change.

One was Tim Grimes, a 28-year-old fan battling Stage 4 cancer. Doctors gave him a 5 percent chance of surviving the next 18 months. He is spending it relishing every pitch and every hit.

The other was SungWoo Lee, a fan from South Korea. He wakes up in the middle of the night, every night, to watch the Royals online. In August, he finally made it to Kansas City.

Perhaps it was coincidence, perhaps it was fate. But at the same time their stories were told, the Royals started to win. They climbed out of a deep hole in the AL Central, made a big push for the pennant, and then qualified for the wild-card game.

Then they rallied from a four-run hole to beat the Oakland Athletics in 12 dramatic innings.

“I think that’s really when it all came together,” said Bob Fescoe, the host of a popular morning talk show on 610 Sports in Kansas City. “The players saw the way the fans reacted, and the way fans cheered for them and stayed through that entire game.”

In fact, they keep staying through games, until long after they’re over. When the Royals clinched their first pennant in 29 years, security had to begin ushering them out of the ballpark so the cleaning crews could begin their work.

No matter. There was almost certainly a party they could go to somewhere.

Good chance that some of the Royals were already there.

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost watches batters during baseball practice Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals will host the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series on Oct. 21. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost watches batters during baseball practice Monday, Oct. 20, 2014, in Kansas City, Mo. The Royals will host the San Francisco Giants in Game 1 of the World Series on Oct. 21. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Alex Gordon took a big rip at a batting-practice fastball, fouled it off badly into the cage, and ducked when the carom nearly hit him in the head.

Gordon let out a huge laugh, and so did a bunch of his Kansas City Royals teammates watching Monday’s workout.

“I can’t believe that just happened, dude,” pitcher James Shields razzed.

It’ll be more frustrating than funny if those are the same awkward swings the Royals and San Francisco Giants take once the World Series begins.

Going into Game 1 on Tuesday night at Kauffman Stadium, both teams will deal with a familiar issue this deep in the postseason: Does an extended layoff translate into rest or rust?

Buster Posey and the Giants zipped through the playoffs, and now will try for their third title in five years. Lorenzo Cain and the Royals zoomed along, reaching the Series for the first time since 1985.

And then, they all got some time off. Almost an eternity, by October standards.

The Royals went 8-0 in the AL playoffs, giving them five idle days before Shields starts the opener. San Francisco went 8-2 on the NL side and had four days to relax before Madison Bumgarner pitches.

“It’s definitely different because we have played so many games over the last 7 1/2, eight months. But you just understand it’s one of those things,” Posey said.

As recent history has shown, hitters can be very vulnerable when they get out of rhythm.

“It affects a bit with your timing, especially when trying to adjust to pitchers,” Kansas City second baseman Omar Infante said. “It’s hard to recover that groove you have.”

The slightly favored Giants and Royals held practices, studied video and checked out scouting reports. But as several teams that stumbled in the World Series after long breaks discovered, nothing can duplicate playing a real game.

Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera and Detroit got nearly a week off in 2012, then the Tigers hit a combined .159 and totaled six runs in getting swept by the Giants.

Troy Tulowitzki and the Colorado Rockies rushed into the 2007 World Series, waited a week and got outscored 29-10 in Boston’s sweep.

A year earlier, Magglio Ordonez and the Tigers looked so powerful in the playoffs, but fell apart a week later and hit only .199 in a five-game loss to St. Louis.

Infante played on both of those Detroit teams that got wiped out. He actually excelled in 2012, hitting .333.

“It’s a short series, you need some luck. We lost four in a row and they were coming from playing seven. In this series, I think both teams are even,” he said.

Royals reserve Raul Ibanez, who’s enjoyed postseason success in the past, said “determination and will” carry players in the fall. Yet the timing and confidence that lifts them for so long can be lost in a hurry.

All of a sudden, a ball that might’ve been a solid double becomes a soft fly. A line drive up the middle turns into a foul ball straight back. A big hit winds up a great catch.

Just like that, a magical touch is missing, and can’t be recaptured until it’s too late.

Royals catcher Salvador Perez hooted at himself after a popup and an easy grounder in BP on Monday, and changed bats for his next round. He homered on his final swing.

“When you’ve been playing for seven or eight months, it’s nice to have an off day every now and then. But when you do have those workout days where you just go in and hit BP and take grounders and stuff, you try to keep it as much like game day as possible,” Giants first baseman Brandon Belt said.

Royals designated hitter Billy Butler said he didn’t see the five-day break being a detriment.

“Hey, they’ve had four days off. That’s the way you look at it. They played one day later than we have – they’ve had a layoff, too,” he said.

“I don’t know if it’ll play any factor. It definitely won’t be the reason if we go out there and don’t win tomorrow,” Butler said.

Shields and Bumgarner seemed unconcerned.

This will be Shields’ first start since Oct. 10 in the AL Championship Series opener against Baltimore.

“I think this late in the year almost too much throwing is too much,” he said. “So I’ve just kind of rested my body up for tomorrow.”

Bumgarner has already thrown 249 innings this year, including four postseason outings. He was the NLCS MVP, and started last Thursday when the Giants closed out St. Louis.

“Honestly, I feel the best I’ve felt all year for the last probably two months,” the lefty said.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A six-pack won’t be enough for Madison Bumgarner if the San Francisco Giants win the World Series.

The Giants ace chugged four beers after beating Pittsburgh in the NL wild-card game, upped the count to five following the NL Division Series clincher against Washington and six when San Francisco won the NL Championship Series over St. Louis.

“I don’t know if I can hold any more than that,” he said after earning the NLCS MVP award last week. “I had to keep it going, though. We’ll see if we keep winning. We don’t want to change anything up.”

Bumgarner starts the World Series opener on Tuesday night as the Giants try to become the first NL team to win three World Series titles in a five-year span since the St. Louis Cardinals of 1942-46. James Shields goes for the Royals, back in the Series for the first time since winning the 1985 title.

Just 25, Bumgarner already is 2-0 with 15 shutout innings in Series play and is 2-1 in four starts this postseason with a 1.42 ERA. He followed Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez as a rookie in the 2010 Series. He pitched three-hit ball over eight innings in a 4-0 Game 4 win at Texas that put San Francisco within of its first title since 1954.

Two years later, he pitched after Barry Zito and allowed two hits over seven innings in a 2-0 win at AT&T Park in Game 2 as the Giants swept Detroit.

Now, with Cain sidelined since the All-Star break because of an elbow injury that needed surgery, the left-hander has become the ace. A native of Hickory, North Carolina, Bumgarner has a farm with horses and cattle. He is said to have given his wife a cow ahead of their wedding.

Bumgarner is part of a Southerner corner contingent of pitchers in the Giants’ clubhouse that includes Georgian Tim Hudson and Alabamian Jake Peavy. Bumgarner takes the mound to the Marshall Tucker Band’s “Fire on the Mountain.”

“Our locker room definitely took a step toward the redneck side at the start of this year, that’s for sure – in a good way,” Hudson said. “I think every team needs a little redneck in them.”

And manager Bruce Bochy, while born in France, spent time living in North Carolina and Florida. Grits are served to players ahead of day games.

“I like my rednecks, they’re a good bunch of guys,” Bochy said. “They come out, they get after it and play the game right. It’s a very diverse group. … We do have a unique group of rednecks.”

Shields, a 32-year-old right-hander, also is unbeaten and unscored on in the Series: He pitched Tampa Bay to its lone win in 2008 when he allowed seven hits over 5 2-3 innings in a 4-2 victory over Philadelphia. Kansas City acquired him from the Rays in December 2013, hoping he would help transform a young team into a contender.

“He’s kind of just turned the clubhouse around, really,” manager Ned Yost said. “He brought a definite winner’s attitude with him, and he’s not only molded but he’s mentored our players in that fact.”

Shields is 1-0 with a 5.63 ERA this offseason. He told the Kansas City Star he passed a kidney stone last week during the ALCS.

“I haven’t pitched the way I wanted to. There is no doubt about it,” he said. “So I’m a big believer in amnesia. I’ve been doing it my whole entire career.”

ST. LOUIS (AP) — Everyone is well-aware of Jeff Fisher’s affinity for trick plays. He really knows how to pick his spots.

“If we need them, if the opportunity is there, that’s who we are,” Fisher said Monday. “That’s what we do.”

Johnny Hekker’s fake punt that helped the St. Louis Rams play keep-away and finish off the Seattle Seahawks was a mixture of design, deception and derring-do. The call caught Rams players by surprise, too, until special teams captain Chase Reynolds said, `Yeah, it’s real! Let’s do it!”

They got over the shock, then put one over on the Super Bowl champions on fourth-and-3 from the Rams 18 and less than three minutes to go when Hekker hit up back Benny Cunningham for 18 yards.

“We’re so prepared, it’s scary,” Hekker said. “There was no off call. It was go time. We were ready.”

Fisher’s rationale was simple. That was the only way the Rams could win.

Russell Wilson had been nearly unstoppable, becoming the first NFL quarterback to pass for 300 yards and run for 100 yards, and the Seahawks would have had plenty of time.

Seattle had a whopping advantage in total yards, 463 to 272, but lost where it count. Maybe, even from the 18, they should have known.

“That’s the kind of team they are,” Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman said. “Jeff Fisher is a gambling coach and he takes them at different times in a game. It was a good play and a good call.”

That was the fifth time in three seasons Fisher has relied on his punter’s arm instead of his leg. Hekker is 4 for 5 for 60 yards and in 2012 duped the Seahawks for the go-ahead touchdown pass on a fake field goal when Danny Amendola dawdled leaving the field and lined up all alone near the sideline.

“Sure, there’s a couple of butterflies definitely,” Hekker said. “We work on every situation possible. We’re ready when the time comes.”

Stedman Bailey’s 90-yard punt return got a massive assist from Tavon Austin, who staggered and then tumbled to the turf while preparing to make a phantom catch on the opposite sideline. Fisher noted with a smile that other special teamers yelled “Right! Right!” to further confuse the Seahawks and draw them toward Austin.

Don’t forget Fisher’s masterpiece of deception. The Music City Miracle, the lateral pass from Frank Wycheck to Kevin Dyson that kept the Titans alive in the 2000 postseason for a Super Bowl matchup against the Rams, who beat them 23-16.

“If you have the reputation that you’re fearless from the standpoint of making those calls, you’re going to be able to dictate some things,” Fisher said. “That’s what we try to do.”

Austin scored on a reverse last season, a play the Titans nearly clicked on under Fisher when Adam Jones was a rookie. Fisher readily recalls the play was nullified because Brad Hopkins was whistled for holding. He also scored on a 98-yard punt return against Indianapolis last year, waving everybody away and then fielding the ball at the last instant on the sideline.

That Hekker was a high school quarterback with a power arm factored into the Rams decision to sign him as an undrafted free agent out of Oregon State. He led the NFL in net punting last year, perhaps partly because teams were worried about the fake.

The Rams released Austin Pettis to clear roster space elsewhere Monday, perhaps at linebacker. They have five receivers, all brought in by Fisher.

Pettis made 11 starts in four seasons after the Rams drafted him in the third round in 2011. He’s been the fifth or sixth wide receiver this year and totaled 12 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown.

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos kicks a field goal against the San Diego Chargers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

Kansas City Chiefs kicker Cairo Santos kicks a field goal against the San Diego Chargers during the second half of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 19, 2014, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs were such a mess in their season opener against the Tennessee Titans that they were quickly written off, their dramatic turnaround last season considered a fluke.

Turns out that conclusion was premature.

After steadily improving over the first few weeks of the season, the Chiefs earned a marquee victory Sunday when they rallied for a 23-20 victory in San Diego – not only knocking off one of the NFL’s hottest teams but taking a big step toward the top of the division.

Sure, the Denver Broncos remain the team to beat in the AFC West, and the Chiefs are still looking up the standings at the Chargers. But there is suddenly a feeling that the Chiefs can make some noise in the wild-card race, if not for the division title.

“I think overall the whole picture is good,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said Monday. “Yeah, it came down to the last drive, but there were a lot of people on both sides of the ball and special teams that put you in a position to be able to do that.”

The Chiefs had chances to steal wins in Denver and San Francisco, but struggled in crunch time. They had no such trouble against the Chargers, marching 62 yards in nine plays in the waning minutes to set up a 48-yard, go-ahead field goal by rookie Cairo Santos.

The kick was a little bit wobbly. It looked a little bit funky. But it just managed to skirt inside the upright, helping to end the Chargers’ five-game winning streak.

“I have 100 percent confidence in Santos,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “He has shown he can do it. In practice he barely misses. It’s about confidence.”

Santos might be indicative of the Chiefs’ growing confidence.

After wrestling the job away from veteran Ryan Succop in training camp, Santos promptly missed field goals in each of his first two games. He hasn’t missed since, including all three attempts against San Diego.

“That’s the game of football,” quarterback Alex Smith said. “You have to trust the guy next to you. We talk about it all the time – offensively, defensively, the guy next to you in the huddle – you have to trust all those guys to do their job. And you have to trust that you’re going to do yours. It’s no different with Cairo. The guy went out there and hit a great kick and had a great kickoff right after, so I’m happy for him.”

Now, a resilient bunch of Chiefs that withstood a series of devastating injuries during the first couple weeks of the season has a relatively weak schedule ahead.

First up Sunday is a visit from St. Louis, coming off an emotional high from its victory over Seattle. Then comes a home game against the New York Jets, a team that has lost six straight games.

“The great part about this is there were a lot of people we could stand up here and mention. The great part about this is we still have a ton of room to improve,” Reid said. “We’ve got a heck of a football team coming in here this week. Jeff (Coach Fisher) has done a nice job with the Rams. They are playing at a very high level, they’re fast, they’re aggressive. We’ve got to make sure that we get ourselves ready.”

ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams have released wide receiver Austin Pettis, citing roster concerns elsewhere.

Pettis was inactive for Sunday’s victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

He caught 12 passes for 118 yards and one touchdown this season. He made 11 starts in four seasons with the Rams, who drafted him in the third round in 2011.

The Rams also released wide receiver Emory Blake from the practice squad.