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Area All-Stars gather at Central Arkansas

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West All-Star Coach Kyle Slayton (center) visits former Scrappers Zach Jamison (left) and Trace Beene after the first game of a double-header June 20 at the University of Central Arkansas.

By John R. Schirmer
News-Leader staff

CONWAY – Five Nashville athletes and a coach participated in Arkansas All-Star activities last week at the University of Central Arkansas.

Coach Kyle Slayton was the head coach for the West baseball team. Two former Scrappers were on his roster, including Zach Jamison and Trace Beene.

Former Scrapperette Kaylea Carver played on the West softball team.

Former Scrapper Justin Bean was a member of the West football team coached by former Nashville Coach Billy Dawson, who is now the head coach at Fayetteville after two years in Russellville.

Former cheerleader Nicole Dodson was a member of the West All-Star cheer squad.

All-Star Week is “always a good thing,” Slayton said between games in the baseball double-header. “It’s all about the kids.”

Players reported June 19 and played the next day. “We had a couple of good practices,” Slayton said.

The West team was down 6-0 after two innings of the first game but came back to take a 7-6 lead. “I’m proud of the way we battled back,” Slayton said.

The East later tied the game at 7-7 before Beene scored to put the West on top 8-7. The game ended in a 10-10 tie.

Beene and Jamison “got a couple of at-bats each” Slayton said after the first game. “These games are about getting to participate. Sometimes you get to hit, but it’s all about being here.”

All-Star Week gives players the chance “to meet new kids. It’s an honor to be here,” Slayton said.

Slayton coached in the All-Star game for the sixth time of his 20-year career.

Jamison said the experience was “really fun. It was great to see how good everybody is, the best athletes on one team.”

Playing under Slayton one more time “was awesome. I was more comfortable with him coaching,” Jamison said.

Beene described All-Star Week as “an exciting experience. I got to meet new people. It was a plus to have Coach Slayton. I know he was harder on us [his former Scrappers].”

Beene said he had “never been nervous before a game, not even at Baum,” where the Scrappers won the Class 4A state championship last month. But before the All-Star game, “My heart was racing. I don’t know why.”

Carver agreed with the baseball players that the week was “a great experience. I enjoyed meeting all the new girls. That was my favorite part. I enjoyed playing one more time.”

Carver said she was “honored” by her selection as an All-Star. “It was fun to be part of this. I’ll remember it forever.”

Bean said he enjoyed the week at Conway and playing under Dawson. He will attend Hendrix College on a football scholarship.

Cheerleaders reported June 21. Dodson said the All-Star experience was “good,” even with the all-day practices leading up to last Friday night’s football game.

Kaylea Carver of Nashville bats for the West in the All-Star softball game last week in Conway.
Justin Bean (left) of Nashville played for former Scrapper Coach Billy Dawson on the West All-Star team last week in Conway. Bean was a sophomore when he played for Dawson at Nashville. Dawson is now head coach at Fayetteville High School.
Justin Bean of Nashville and Damon Nelson Jr. of Har-Ber visit during practice at UCA. Nelson is the son of former Scrapper Damon Nelson Sr.
Melanie Kesterson (left) of Dierks watches the batter while keeping tabs on the East base-runner during the All-Star softball game last week in Conway.
Hannah Cox of Murfreesboro plays for the West June 20 at UCA.
Nicole Dodson (second from left) of Nashville joins other All-Star cheerleaders before the football Friday night at Estes Stadium.