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Area Roundup: Mario Lopez to serve as honorary starter at STP Gas Booster 500
Magna Vista softball blanks G.W.-Danville

Friday, March 15, 2013

By BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -

Mario Lopez is best known for his on-screen roles. There’s A.C. Slater from “Saved By The Bell” back in the 1980s, his stint on “Dancing With The Stars” and his current role as a host of the television entertainment show “Extra.”

Here are a couple of little-known facts, though: he’s a car guy and he loves NASCAR.

And those are the big reasons that Lopez will be the Honorary Starter for the STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway on April 7.

“My dad is a big car lover and I grew up one too,” said Lopez, who will wave the green flag to start the STP Gas Booster 500. “I’m honored and excited about being the honorary starter. I’ve been to several NASCAR races, but I’ve never done anything like this. I hope I do everything right.”

Although he has a love of cars instilled by his father, it wasn’t until his first trip to a NASCAR event several years ago as a guest of a track that he began to appreciate the sport, its athletes and fans.

“I’ve always had a great time the times I’ve been able to go to races. The people are really nice and the racing is so exciting,” said the 39-year-old Lopez, who looks pretty much the same as he did when “Saved By The Bell” premiered in 1989. “TV just doesn’t do it (a NASCAR race) justice. You have to be there to see it and hear it. You have to be there and experience it all day long.”

It will certainly be a day-long experience for Lopez at Martinsville on April 7. His day will begin with a pace car ride, continue with a pit tour, private time with drivers, attendance at the drivers’ meeting, introduction to the crowd in prerace and finally, waving the green flag to start the race.

“NASCAR crowds are so very passionate, so very loyal. They know what they are talking about and I like that they really get behind their driver,” said Lopez. “And I’m really looking forward to this race. Martinsville is a short track, just a half-mile. You’re right on top of things and I understand a lot of things happen on the track there.”

Since he has been attending NASCAR events, Lopez has gotten to know some of the drivers fairly well. He counts Carl Edwards as a friend and said “Ironically in New York, I run into a lot of them. I had Jimmie Johnson on my show not long ago.”

Like most race fans, Lopez says NASCAR races are a great escape for him, a way to get away from everyday life.

“Going to a race gives me a break and I love sports in general. I always compare racing to boxing. It’s the only sport where you can be winning all day long and then it can be over in a minute,” said Lopez. “You can slip a little, lose focus , hit the wall and that’s it. That just doesn’t happen in other sports.”

The STP Gas Booster 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is scheduled for Sunday, April 7, the day after the Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Pole Day is Friday, April 5.

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SOFTBALL

G.W.-Danville 0

Magna Vista 14

(5 Innings)

Magna Vista’s softball team beat G.W.-Danville 14-0 on Thursday in Ridgeway to improve to 1-1 this season.

Jasmine Agee picked up the win and threw all five innings for the Warriors. She pitched two-hit softball in the game and struck out nine while walking one and allowing two hits. Agee also had a base hit and an RBI.

Sarah Poff scored two of MVHS’s runs and had a triple and two RBIs. Maegan Sutphin went 1-for-2 at the plate, but reached base all three times she went to bat after she was hit by a pitch and reached on an error. Sutphin’s hit was a double. Hannah Savedge had two runs and two hits, including a double, and knocked in three runs.

The Warriors will take to the diamond again at 5 p.m. on Wednesday against Dan River in Ridgeway.

___________________________________________________________________________

Carroll County 10

Patrick County 9

Patrick County’s softball team lost to Carroll County 10-9 on Thursday in Stuart.

Briana Steele lead the Lady Cougars at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a walk, an RBI and two runs scored. Julia Hutchens went 2-for-3 with a walk and two RBIs.

In the circle, Kati Collins got the start and threw four complete innings. She allowed eight hits, four walks, struck out three and allowed five runs. Natalie Mitchell came in and threw the last three innings in relief and took the loss. She allowed five runs off of eight hits with one walk and one strike out.

The Cougars (1-2) will play again on Monday against Dan River.

___________________________________________________________________________

BASEBALL

Carroll County 4

Patrick County 1

The Patrick County baseball dropped to 0-3 this season with a 4-1 loss to Carroll County on Thursday in Stuart.

Brandon Turner picked up the loss on the mound. He scattered five hits over as many innings pitched while recording eight strikeouts and allowing two runs — one earned. Braden Nester pitched the final two innings and allowed two runs, though neither was earned.

The Cougars were led at the plate by Chase Barnes and Nick Dalton with two hits each. Wendell Hutchens provided the only RBI.

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WEDNESDAY

Bassett boys tennis blanks G.W.-Danville 9-0

The Bassett boys tennis team swept G.W.-Danville 9-0 on Wednesday in Bassett.

The Bengals not only won every match, but won every set against the Eagles. The win opened the season for Bassett, which will travel to play Franklin County on Monday.

Results

Singles

No. 1 — (B) Jordan Hancock def. Christian Blankinship 6-0, 6-0

No. 2 — (B) Donnie Burks def. Gunnar Rojas 6-0, 6-2

No. 3 — (B) Cairo Craig def. Junaid Khan 6-0, 6-1

No. 4 — (B) Rohit Lalchandani def. John Moss 6-0, 6-0

No. 5 — (B) Chipper Jones def. Mike Yancey 6-0, 6-0

No. 6 — (B) Nick Houston def. Merlin Mei 6-2, 6-2

Doubles

No. 1 — (B) Hancock/Burks def. Blankinship/Rojas 6-1, 6-1

No. 2 — (B) Craig/Lalchandani def. Khan/Yancey 6-0, 6-0

No. 3 — (B) Jones/D.J. Johnson def. Roberts/Moss 6-0, 6-0

 

 
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