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Memories of Collins remain

Have gun, will smoke you. The loss of Jeff “Sticks” Collins this week brought back old memories. They were good memories with the exception of my personal confrontations.

I remember batting against him – I said batting, not hitting since most batters didn’t – and I could still see that curveball coming at my head looking more like another pitcher’s fastball.

Opposing teams came out of the dugout bunting just to avoid a no-hitter against the Ironton right-hander whose fastball was in the upper 90 miles per hour range and his curve in the mid-80s.

Collins threw a perfect game in 1974, his senior year. He had 94 strikeouts that season in 10 games. His single-game high was 15 strikeouts in a game his junior year.

Coveted by many major league teams, he was drafted by the Chicago Cubs and rose to the Class AAA level before a shoulder injury ended his career.

Had Collins stayed healthy, he may have been the best pitching product this area had ever seen.

“Sticks” career started auspiciously. As a sophomore, he pitched six innings to earn the victory in the Class AA state championship game. Despite his inexperience in a pressure-packed situation, Collins was fearless.

As was his teammate and neighborhood friend Jerry Murnahan, who pitched a complete game in the semifinals the day before and came on to work the seventh inning and nail down a 3-2 win over Solon.

Collins came from a neighborhood that also produced Oakland A’s draftee Phil Murnahan, Jerry’s older brother, who once out-dueled Don Gullett in a high school game with McKell, Ky., Phil had a fastball that could hit 100 miles an hour on the radar gun, but he didn’t have the same control as Collins.

Jerry Murnahan may have been the most productive and complete pitcher of the bunch, he just lacked the blazing speed of his counterparts.

“Sticks” was something special. He may be gone, but they’ll never bury his legend.

Kouns earns award

Patrick Kouns, the former Ironton Fighting Tigers All-Ohio tight end, is a walk-on at Marshall University, but that hasn’t kept him from getting noticed.

Kouns was selected the scout team Offensive Player of the Week for the Tennessee game.

One of Kouns’ teammates at Ironton, defensive back Marcus Williams, is a walk-on at Ohio State. Rock Hill’s K.C. Christian is also a walk-on defensive back with the Buckeyes.

Pairings on ONN

If you can’t wait for the newspapers or radio announcements of the state high school playoff pairings, you’re not alone. And you won’t have to wait.

Ohio News Network (ONN) will air the selections of all six divisions Sunday with a one-hour program beginning at noon.