Leading Off

Multi-sport athletes awarded at Merced

Merced High's backcourt of senior Jarrett Sparks (top) and junior Allen Huddleston (bottom) was selected Monday to the all-state grid-hoops team, in recognition of their performances on the court and the football field. One of five first-team selections, the 6-foot-2-inch Sparks is averaging 20.5 points and

7.1 rebounds -- and his Bears have clinched the Central California Conference. He is off to Cal on a football scholarship, after catching 42 passes for 934 yards and 14 TDs in the fall. The 6-1 Huddleston, the district's top scorer with 26 points per game who got time at quarterback in the fall, was a third-team all-state selection. Turlock Christian's Eli Davis was selected an "athlete of distinction" on the team.

Stanislaus' Fleming wins pitching honor

Cal State Stanislaus ace Marquis Fleming allowed only one earned run in 14 innings of work last week, good enough to earn Wilson California Collegiate Athletic Association Pitcher of the Week honors. Sunday, he earned a complete-game, 3-1 victory against visiting Central Washington to complete a four-game weekend sweep of the Wildcats. Tomas Donnelly drove in the game-winning run in three of the four games for Stanislaus (4-1). Fleming has recorded 17 strikeouts in two games this season, and has held opposing hitters to a .156 batting average.

Hockey player stable after slicing neck

Florida Panthers forward Richard Zednik (left) lost five units of blood, but doctors never considered his life in jeopardy after the player had his carotid artery nearly severed by a teammate's skate in a freak and frightening accident. Zednik underwent an hour of surgery to reconnect the artery Sunday night and was listed in stable condition in the intensive care unit at Buffalo (N.Y.) General Hospital on Monday. He was awake and cooperative with the medical staff, doctors said. Attending surgeon Sonya Noor said there were no initial signs of brain damage, which is a fear whenever the coratid artery is clamped. She said clamps were in place for about 15 to 20 minutes during surgery, which she considers a short time. Doctors said the skate blade just missed cutting the jugular vein.