Tag Archives: high school baseball

Springer to take over Culleoka baseball as Hunter resigns

By Maurice Patton

Vince Springer has been named as interim baseball coach at Culleoka, replacing Chad Hunter after one pandemic-shortened season.

Culleoka athletics director Doug Sharp confirmed the coaching change Wednesday, citing scheduling issues on the part of Hunter, who was coaching on a non-faculty basis.

“He’s got a construction business, he’s having to work a lot of late hours,” Sharp said of Hunter, who played at Riverdale and briefly at Walters State. “After Christmas, he hasn’t had the time.

“He’s stepped aside, but he’s going to try to be there for games to help Vince. Vince has been doing the paperwork, all the administrative duties. With it being so close to the season, we needed to go ahead and do that, so that’s what (Culleoka principal Penny Love) and I decided to do.”

Hunter, the son-in-law of Culleoka assistant principal Mallory Hubbell, succeeded Adam Hendrix following the 2019 season. He guided the Warriors to an 0-3 start last spring before the COVID-19 global outbreak forced a stoppage of all athletic activities.

“The guys are excited to get on the field and start doing something,” said Springer, who served as Hunter’s assistant last year. “Monday (Feb. 15) is the first day we can officially practice. We’ve got a great bunch of guys; we only had one senior last year. We’ve got two seniors this year, Carson Lovell and Colton Tullis. We’ve got a lot of good talent. We’ll see what we can do.”

Clayton Harris, Culleoka’s middle school baseball coach, is also expected to help with the varsity, according to Sharp.

Culleoka is scheduled to open its 2021 season March 15 at Community, before hosting the Vikings on March 16.

Commentary: TSSAA spring sports decisions defy logic

By Chris Yow

Make it make sense, TSSAA.

What, you ask? All of it — heck, any of it.

Recently, the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association alerted spring sports — baseball, softball, boys soccer, tennis and track — coaches there would not be any preseason scrimmages allowed prior to their regular seasons. Football coaches were told there would be no scrimmages allowed against other schools to culminate their spring practices.

The problem with this is there is absolutely nothing about it that makes any logical sense.

Can the TSSAA Board of Control give any logical reason for restricting competition between two teams who are about to embark on 18-game regular seasons? If so, I’d love to hear it.

What about football teams, who will have practiced with each other for two weeks playing against another school’s players who have practiced without incident for two weeks? Sorry, no go. No matter that it’s the last thing those kids will do regarding football until summer workouts.

It isn’t like they’re going to be any safer playing an intrasquad game than against an opponent without any cases among their team. Certainly not any safer than they will be in August.

It seems at every turn the TSSAA has made illogical decisions while also making sound decisions regarding regular-season play.

But if the regular season is OK to play, why wouldn’t a scrimmage be OK? It’s as controlled as any form of competition in which the student-athletes will take part.

COVID-19 is certainly an issue across our state, but throughout the 2020-21 school year, the TSSAA has done some of its best work. Working with Governor Bill Lee’s office to make sure parents can attend games was good work. Getting an entire football season played was even more impressive, especially as the season drew to a close and cases were going up across Tennessee.

As basketball season has continued through game and tournament cancellations and postponements, at least the governing body has stuck with their original plan to leave it up to local school systems. What the Governor’s office has done, though, with regard to cheerleaders and dance teams is a little disheartening. Those two entities are not allowed in the gyms, and I understand that adding parents of those kids can lead to larger crowds, but we’re letting in players’ grandparents — which could theoretically be as many as eight people — and more faculty. Get the cheerleaders off the end lines and socially distance them in the bleachers in an area specifically designated for them.

I know the TSSAA wasn’t really the culprit in those situations, it’s the Governor’s office.

Spring sports nonsense, however, is all on the TSSAA… and I just can’t make it make sense.

Chris Yow is the multi-media editor of SM-Tn Sports. He can be reached at sports@sm-tnsports.com or on Twitter @ChrisYow14.

2020: This year’s SM-Tn Sports stories that mattered most

As in most years, the 2020 area high school sports landscape was filled with scholarship signings, coaching changes, championship victories – and, oh yeah, a global pandemic that threatened all of it.

Southern Middle Tennessee Sports was on hand to bring it all to our readers.

As we head into 2021, let’s take a quick look back at the 2020 stories that were most significant to you all:

June 8: Palmer leaves Summit for Alabama job

Just a little more than one week after officially taking over at the offensive coordinator at Summit, Justin Palmer informed the school he would be stepping down to take a position in Alabama.

Although not official until a board meeting on Thursday, Palmer has accepted the position of head coach at Class 5A Cordova.

Read more …

June 15: Central football sidelined following positive COVID test

A positive COVID-19 test for a Columbia Central football player has resulted in the suspension of practice until the end of the two-week Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association-mandated dead period, which begins June 22.

Read more …

 “As we know at this time, no other programs are impacted as a result,” Maury County Public Schools athletics director Chris Poynter said Monday in announcing the development. “My heart goes out to the families and to the young man who has it. We’re praying for him, for a speedy recovery, and that no other student-athletes are impacted as a result.”

Aug. 17: TSSAA adds fourth class for basketball, baseball, softball

New classes. Same concerns.

As the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association adapted a four-classification system for Division I basketball, baseball and softball for the 2021-22 and ’22-23 school years during Monday’s Board of Control meeting, the format suddenly didn’t seem to be the remedy to disparity that many had expected.

Read more …

Aug. 25: Loretto’s Lamm headed for state coaches’ hall of fame

Four longtime high school coaches, including Loretto’s Gary Lamm, and two-time national championship coach Tim Corbin comprise the 2020 Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association’s Hall of Fame class.

The five will be inducted at a Jan. 16 ceremony as part of the TBCA annual convention, which will take place at the Cool Springs Marriott in Franklin.

Read more …

Sept. 14: Mt. Pleasant football hit with COVID-19; Cornersville contest postponed

The Mt. Pleasant Tigers’ football team has postponed their upcoming Friday night region game against Cornersville due to a positive COVID-19 test of at least one player.

Mt. Pleasant Athletics Director Eric Hughes confirmed to SM-Tn Sports on Monday afternoon the Tigers would not play on Friday or against Wayne County next Friday night. Practice has also been canceled to allow for a deep cleaning of the football facilities.

Read more …

Oct. 23: ‘It’s gotta be the shoes!’ Class A MVP brings the heat with hits, style

While the video game ‘NBA Jam’ preceded Miya Cole Brown’s birth by a decade or more, the iconic colored shoes of a player who scored three baskets in a row and was deemed ‘on fire’ still resonates through pop culture.

On Friday, the Summertown senior outside hitter was most certainly ‘on fire’ as she led her team to a second straight state volleyball championship, whilst being named the game’s Most Valuable Player.

Read more …

Nov. 8: Summertown’s Mote out as football coach after six years

Summertown principal Lain Hinson confirmed this weekend that Leslie Mote has been dismissed after six seasons as the school’s football coach.

Hinson declined further comment on the move, which ends the tenure of the only varsity coach in the program’s history.

Read more …

Nov. 11: Tears makes it official with Vols, set for national contest

It wasn’t news that Kavares Tears signed a college baseball scholarship Wednesday with the University of Tennessee – the Columbia Academy standout announced his intentions to do so nearly three years ago – but there was news.

The left-handed Tears, who pitches and plays outfield and first base, has been selected to participate in the inaugural Minority Baseball Prospects All-American Game, which will take place Nov. 21 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

Read more …

Nov. 20: Bradley relieved of coaching duties at Mt. Pleasant

Bronson Bradley confirmed Friday afternoon that he has been dismissed as football coach at Mt. Pleasant after seven seasons – four of which he guided the Tigers to the state playoffs.

In the midst of a global pandemic, Mt. Pleasant finished 1-8 this fall, the second one-win campaign since Bradley took the helm prior to the 2014 season.

Read more …

Dec. 5: Defense dominates as Summit seals state title

Brady Pierce saw the ball coming the whole way, stepped in front of a Mitchell Gibbons pass and took it 29 yards to the end zone — putting the exclamation point on Summit’s state championship run Friday night as the Spartans won the Class 5A title, defeating Oak Ridge 28-7.

The pick-6, a receiving touchdown, 142 all-purpose yards and six tackles — not to mention a punt that pinned the Wildcats inside their 5-yard line — weren’t enough to garner the game’s Most Valuable Player award, but Summit quarterback Destin Wade knows how much his best friend means to the team.

Read more …

Baseball coaches’ clinic, HOF induction, postponed by COVID

By Maurice Patton

Pat Swallows, executive director of the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association, announced Wednesday that the organization’s upcoming clinic has been canceled because of pandemic concerns.

“We’d been working all fall for this, hoping things would calm down and get, not necessarily back to normal, but at least better,” Swallows said of the three-day event, scheduled for Jan. 15-17 at the Cool Springs Marriott. “We don’t want to put coaches in a situation where – if something were to happen, it would kill me.”

Along with the clinic, the event includes an awards luncheon and hall of fame induction. Former Loretto coach Gary Lamm was to be inducted next month along with Grace Christian’s Brad Myers, Friendship Christian’s John McNeal, longtime Knoxville amateur baseball figure Dwight Smith and Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin.

TBCA executive director Pat Swallows e-mailed association members Wednesday night advising them that the 2021 coaches’ clinic will not be held because of COVID-19 concerns.

The inductions will instead take place during the 2022 convention.

“It’s just one of those tough things we’re going through,” Lamm said. “If it has to be canceled, so be it. I’m all for doing what’s right. It’s out of our control. It’s not the end of the world.

“I know it’s a call Pat hated to make, but looking at the numbers, it’s the right call, I’d say. You don’t want to put anybody at risk. I know the coaches I talked to were looking forward to it, but he’s trying to do what’s best.”

Now in its 29th year, the three-day clinic typically draws more than 400 coaches, Swallows said.

“We had 475 last year,” he said. “Our numbers were small (to this point), but normally after Christmas, the first of the year, is when a lot of the coaches register. I felt it was better to pull the plug now.

“It’s safer to be at home.”

Tears makes it official with Vols, set for national contest

By Maurice Patton

It wasn’t news that Kavares Tears signed a college baseball scholarship Wednesday with the University of Tennessee – the Columbia Academy standout announced his intentions to do so nearly three years ago – but there was news.

The left-handed Tears, who pitches and plays outfield and first base, has been selected to participate in the inaugural Minority Baseball Prospects All-American Game, which will take place Nov. 21 at Hank Aaron Stadium in Mobile, Ala.

“He’s that ‘five-tool’ guy,” said Alexander Wyche, a veteran high school baseball coach in Georgia and founder/CEO of Minority Baseball Prospects. “He shows power, with size, speed and arm strength. He can do it all.”

The MBP All-American Game will feature some of the nation’s top players from the recruiting classes of 2021, 2022 and 2023. The participants were selected based on evaluations of performances over the summer and scout recommendations.

“I didn’t know they were at any of my games,” Tears said. “This is the best summer I’ve had – ever, I think. I feel like I was more consistent. I was able to get more confident in my swing and hit for power.”

What he did is what veteran CA coach Richie Estep has always expected, and what the Tennessee coaching staff envisioned when it offered Tears a scholarship.

Kavares Tears (seated, center), flanked by parents Rodrick and Alicia, listens as Columbia Academy baseball coach Richie Estep comments on Tears signing a college baseball scholarship with the University of Tennessee during a Wednesday ceremony. (Courtesy photo)

“I’ve told everybody, he’s just different,” Estep said regarding Tears, the first Southeastern Conference baseball signee in the program’s history and the first NCAA Division I signee since former standout Clint Holloway went to Tennessee Tech after beginning his collegiate career at Columbia State.

“The ball comes off his bat different. It just jumps off his bat. But he’s got so much to go with it. He’s got a great arm, he’s got great speed, he hits for average, he hits for power. No matter where he’s played, he’s shined. He plays first base for us, but I think at that level he’s going to be out there in the outfield and in the middle of the (batting) order, driving in runs. He’s a special talent.”

Tears is excited about taking that talent to Tennessee next fall and joining forces with fourth-year Volunteers coach Tony Vitello.

“They’ve made huge strides; people are seeing what he can do,” Tears said regarding the former Missouri assistant, who led UT to a 15-2 start last spring before COVID-19 forced an early end to the season. “I think that’s made a big impact with the recruits.”

With minority participation levels in Major League Baseball hovering below eight percent – MLB made sure to point out that this week’s selections of Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Devin Anderson and Seattle Mariners outfielder Kyle Lewis as Rookies of the Year marked the first time two African-Americans were honored in the same year since the Mets’ Dwight Gooden and the Mariners’ Alvin Davis in 1984 – Tears is cognizant of his place in the sport.

“When you look at baseball, there aren’t too many African-Americans,” he said. “It’s mostly Caucasians, Hispanics. Bringing awareness that we can still make it, is humbling. It’s a good thing.

“When you go to a ballfield and you’re the only one there, (when) everybody’s looking at you like ‘shouldn’t you be on a basketball court?’, it motivates you to prove you belong.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. E-mail: mopattonsports@gmail.com; Twitter: @mopatton_sports.