local

Lions' Osterhaus signs with Marist

Peachtree Ridge senior Emily Osterhaus has signed a letter of intent to play softball for Marist College, a Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference program in Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

Osterhaus was a four-year starter for the Lions, helping the team to the state finals in Columbus her final three seasons. She was a pitcher, third baseman and first baseman for Peachtree Ridge.

North's Van Wie picks Andrew Coll.

North Gwinnett senior second baseman J.R. Van Wie has accepted an offer to play baseball at Andrew College in Cuthbert. He is the son of Luzie and Mike Van Wie.

Van Wie is hitting .315 for the Bulldogs this season.

Wolves' Bennett headed to Rhodes

Wesleyan senior Reed Bennett will continue his soccer career at Rhodes College, a Division III program in Memphis.

A four-year starter at Wesleyan, Bennett is a team captain this season and plays club soccer for the Atlanta Fire United under-18 Academy team. He also is an honor roll student and four-year member of student government.

Eagles' Knapp gets Schultz Award

Collins Hill senior Taylor Knapp was the Georgia recipient of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award.

The award is named in honor of Olympic and World Champion wrestler Dave Schultz and is given to a wrestler that demonstrated excellence in wrestling, scholastic achievement, character, citizenship and community service.

Knapp, won his third-straight individual state championship in February. The Virginia Tech signee also led the Eagles to dual and traditional state titles and a No. 20 national ranking.

3 locals on All-American teams

Greater Atlanta Christian's Drew Steckenrider was a first-team selection, while teammate Patrick Savage and Norcross' Forrest Garrett made the third team, on the Rawlings/Perfect Game USA Preseason All-American Team.

All three also made the Baseball Clearinghouse.net 2009 National Team, which was released last week. They were joined on that team by South Gwinnett's Nick Blount, Grayson's Cory Cronan and Parkview's Brandon Jacobs.

Southern Odyssey race in area

The inaugural Southern Odyssey of Georgia Team Relay Race will be run Oct. 9 and 10 throughout North Georgia. The 200-mile race, which is accepting runners, begins in Athens and finishes in Roswell.

For more information, visit www.southernodysseyrelay.com.

national

Earnhardt, Mears get six-race probation for skirmish

CONCORD, N.C. - Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears were penalized Tuesday for intentionally bumping cars after the race at Phoenix International Raceway.

NASCAR put both drivers on probation for the next six races, but neither was fined or lost any points. It was an about-face from Saturday night, when officials said they would not punish the drivers for their post-race skirmish.

'We had a weekly competition meeting, we had a good discussion about it, and we decided to put the drivers on probation so the situation did not escalate,' said NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston.

Contact between the two caused Earnhardt to crash with 11 laps to go in Saturday night's race, spoiling what had been a good run. He led 63 laps and was likely headed to a top-10 finish, but the accident dropped him to 31st.

After the race, Earnhardt intentionally spun Mears on the cool-down lap. Mears retaliated by passing several cars on pit road to find Earnhardt, then bumping into the back of his car.

The two were teammates last year at Hendrick Motorsports, but Mears now drives for Richard Childress Racing.

Magic's Howard voted NBA's defensive player of the year

ORLANDO, Fla. - It's a question Dwight Howard will never forget.

Early this season, the Orlando Magic center was talking to Patrick Ewing and Dikembe Mutombo. The once great big men were giving Howard some tips, and Mutombo asked him a simple question.

'He said, 'What do you want to be remembered as, the great dunker who won the slam dunk contest with a Superman outfit on, or do you want to do something better than that?' Howard recalled Tuesday. 'I said, 'I want to be one of the greatest players.' And he said it starts with defense.'

Mission accomplished.

The 23-year-old Howard became the youngest player to win the NBA's defensive player of the year award Tuesday. Howard was only the fifth player to lead the league in blocks and rebounds in the same season, a goal he set in training camp.

'A lot of guys don't want to go up (for blocks) because they're afraid of getting dunked on,' Howard said. 'Dikembe and Patrick told me, 'As many times as you're going to get dunked on you're going to have more blocks.'

Ex-Bulldog Cole fired in Chicago

CHICAGO - Six years after his accusations of improper benefits led to the exit of two University of Georgia basketball coaches, Tony Cole is in the middle of another scandal that has led to the dismissal of a county official in Illinois.

Cole was recently fired as a human resources assistant with Cook County in Chicago.