Tag Archives: high school baseball

For GameTime Baseball, wins are a bonus

By Maurice Patton

At its more competitive levels, winning games isn’t the primary objective for summer league baseball.

That’s not to say those teams don’t want to win, but the focus is on preparing players for their next step in competition.

To do both – as the Columbia-based GameTime 17U squad did in its opening two games of this week’s Music City Mania wood-bat tournament in Nashville – is, as coach Justin Foster said, “The best of both worlds.”

Playing Thursday at Goodpasture, GameTime earned a 5-2 victory over the 16U Hit After Hit Outlaws to follow up on Wednesday’s 6-1 win against Knights Platinum at Brentwood Academy.

“For where (assistant coach/general manager Chris) Hamm and I sit, the way we try to run this program, our view on summer is really about player development,” Foster said after Spring Hill rising senior Jackson Marbet struck out six in 3 2/3 innings of relief to pick up the come-from-behind win.

“It’s about helping guys get potentially seen, working on things they need to work on. If we’re developing players and putting them in position to be seen by college coaches – if we win games, we win games. If we don’t, that’s OK.”

For most coaches and players, that’s not an easy approach to embrace.

“Everybody wants to win, but that’s not the ultimate goal,” said Jim McGuire, director of baseball operations for Hit After Hit and longtime Middle Tennessee State coach. “Development is the objective, whether it’s to develop them as the best high school player they can be or develop them for college. You’re just trying to make them the best player they can be. You don’t want to sacrifice the development for winning.”

That often requires a shift in the thought process, particularly when highly successful coaches are involved.

“We’ve got (Pope John Paul II coach) Chris Parker, we’ve got (Summit coach) Chad Kirby and several other high school coaches working with our teams,” McGuire said. “The mindset has to change somewhat. They lay out their plan for the week and you try to stick to the plan as much as you can, which is to get guys the right amount of pitches, the right amount of innings, the right amount of at-bats to continue to go. You can’t just let them sit over there and get stale to try to win a ballgame.

“It’s a slippery slope and a fine line because you are trying to definitely win, but when you’ve got the mindset of a competitor that they have, you’ve got to kind of change what you do.”

While that emphasis on winning and losing may be a bit different, it’s still baseball.

“High school is a little more intense; the atmosphere’s a lot different,” said Marbet, an MTSU commit. “But we still compete pretty good. We still intensify the game pretty well, we still want to win.

“I feel like for summer ball, it’s (more) about reps. School ball is more about wins and losses, but I think in summer ball you come out and try to get better, improve your game all around. I’m a two-way guy, so I try to come out and get better pitching and hitting. The summer’s here to get better and try to get ready for the next year of school ball.”

Foster, an assistant at Spring Hill, thinks his team typically handles the transition well.

“We’re blessed to have a lot of very talented guys, very ‘baseball-smart’ guys,” he said. “Really at this point, the coaching mindset is making them think through the game, giving them a small key here and there, maybe reset during an at-bat.

“It’s really talking more on the mental side of things – what just happened, what could have happened – being sure they’re still developing mentally as well.”

Following a Friday morning matchup at Hendersonville’s Drakes Creek Park, GameTime continues in Music City Mania with a 9:30 a.m. contest Saturday at Brentwood Academy. Play will conclude Sunday, with matchups and times to be determined by pool play results.

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at mopattonsports@gmail.com or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.

Sunday Review: This week’s stories from SM-Tn Sports

This was a big week for SM-Tn Sports, as we posted seven stories, a photo gallery and two podcasts, resulting in the highest week of web traffic in site history.

Thank you to everyone who continues to support us and our coverage of local sports in Southern Middle Tennessee. If you missed any of the stories or podcasts we posted this week, find them below!

https://www.podserve.fm/dashboard/episode_player_2/11609

https://www.podserve.fm/dashboard/episode_player_2/11541

MUSTANGS’ BASEBALL REINS PASSED TO CURTIS

Spending parts of three seasons in the major leagues makes for a nice coaching resume, but getting the seal of approval from your predecessor never hurts, either. With both in hand, Zac Curtis was nearly a shoo-in to take the helm of the Loretto baseball program.  Continue reading 

POST 19 JUNIORS EXCITED FOR RETURN OF SUMMER BASEBALL

The Columbia Post 19 17U team took the field for the first time on Friday morning with back-to- back games to start their season, participating in a tournament relocated to Zion Christian Academy …  Continue reading

ZION CHRISTIAN TABS BOYD TO SUCCEED FOX AS NEW AD

By Maurice Patton It may not be overstatement to call Derek Boyd a godsend for Rick Jarvis and Zion Christian Academy. Following Tommy Fox’s resignation last month as athletics director, boys basketball coach and softball coach to accept the AD position at Wayne Christian School in Goldsboro, N.C. …  Continue reading 

ZION’S RUTTER AMONG 10 SCHOLARSHIP RECIPIENTS

Zion Christian Academy graduate Briggs Rutter is one of 10 recipients of scholarships presented by the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association. The Eagles’ two-sport standout, who has signed a baseball scholarship with Middle Tennessee State University, and nine other players statewide were selected on the basis of scholastic ability and community service.  Continue reading 

C-TOWN SOCCER SET FOR STATE TOURNEY IN GATLINBURG

One last time to wear the purple and gold? Not quite, but members of the Columbia Central boys soccer team will have one final chance to take the pitch together next month. The Tennessee High School Soccer Coaches Association 2020 State Championships will take place at Gatlinburg’s Rocky Top Sports World … Continue reading

A NIGHT AT THE BALLPARK DOES A SOUL GOOD

By Chris Yow The sights and sounds of baseball being played live and in-person maybe felt like a pipe dream a month ago, but the Maury County Park complex on Monday night was a field of dreams. Continue reading

PALMER LEAVES SUMMIT FOR ALABAMA JOB

By Chris Yow 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. Continue reading

Photo Gallery: Columbia American Little League Opening Night

Mustangs’ baseball reins passed to Curtis

By Maurice Patton

Spending parts of three seasons in the major leagues makes for a nice coaching resume, but getting the seal of approval from your predecessor never hurts, either.

With both in hand, Zac Curtis was nearly a shoo-in to take the helm of the Loretto baseball program.

Former Hendersonville and MTSU standout Zac Curtis, who logged time with four major league teams over six professional seasons, was announced Friday as Loretto’s new baseball coach. (Courtesy photo)

Curtis was announced Friday as the successor to Gary Lamm, who announced his retirement last month after 26 seasons – the most recent four of which each culminated in Murfreesboro, as the Mustangs won the 2017 Class A state championship and finished as state runner-up in 2018, losing a 1-0, 12-inning thriller to Columbia Academy.

“We already knew who he was,” Loretto principal Jennifer Littleton said of Curtis, who wrapped up a six-year professional career last summer with the Nashville Sounds and has since been living in nearby Leoma, with wife Chelsea and children Greyson and Brooks, while doing some substitute teaching at the school.

“When Coach Lamm told us he was interested, we spoke to other people, interviewed him and knew pretty quickly he was going to be the guy for the job. Having him interested was a blessing because of the caliber man he is. He wants to build ‘character’ young men. That’s more important than winning. Coach Lamm obviously did that within his program, and we feel like Zac will be able to continue that.”

The 27-year-old Curtis, a former standout at Hendersonville and at Volunteer State, was the Arizona Diamondbacks’ sixth-round selection in the 2014 Major League Draft out of Middle Tennessee State, where he’d gone 11-6 in two years – completing four of his 11 starts in his final season.

After making his major league debut in 2016 with the D-backs, he was with both the Phillies and Mariners in 2017, and the Rangers and Phillies the following season.

Last year, he went 1-1 with an 8.90 earned run average over 22 appearances out of the bullpen with the Sounds before his July release.

“At first, it wasn’t my thought process to (retire),” said Curtis, whose only opportunities were in independent ball last summer. “I didn’t hear anything, didn’t hear anything. I started to sub. Talking to Coach Lamm, I was telling him ‘if something doesn’t work out, I’d like to talk to you about possibly coaching’.

“When spring training started and I didn’t have any calls, I decided it was time to move into the next phase of my life – make it be known I’d like to coach here, work for Coach Lamm and jump in whenever he decided to retire.”

That decision came quicker than many anticipated.

“When he retired, I think it shocked a lot of people,” Curtis said. “The first thing he said to me was ‘I’m going to endorse you for the next coach’. That meant a lot to me.”

As it stands, Lamm will be the lone departure from the staff, as assistants Toby Dunn and fellow ex-MLB pitcher David Weathers are both expected to continue in their roles.

“I told them, ‘I really need you guys. I understand if you’ve got other obligations’,” Curtis said. “They were both kind enough to stick around and help me with this. I’m trying to add one more coach. I think we’ll have a very good staff with a lot of experience.”

Lamm, who posted 438 of his 525 career victories at the south Lawrence County school, expects the Mustangs to be in good hands going forward.

“He’s the right person for the job,” Lamm said. “I look forward to him, to seeing what he can do with it. I met him three or four years ago, and he was giving lessons down here. When he said he wanted to get into high school baseball, I knew in the back of my mind, this would be a great transition – not that I have any say-so, but I felt he’d be a good fit.

“He’s energized, the kids know him, he’s substituted at our school. He’s an easy choice, with all he’s gone through. He’s a very likeable guy, got a great personality. He’s going to be a great fit for Loretto High School.”

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at mopattonsports@gmail.com or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.

Zion’s Rutter among 10 scholarship recipients

By Maurice Patton

Zion Christian Academy graduate Briggs Rutter is one of 10 recipients of scholarships presented by the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association.

The Eagles’ two-sport standout, who has signed a baseball scholarship with Middle Tennessee State University, and nine other players statewide were selected on the basis of scholastic ability and community service.

“The scholarships are open to any senior that wants to apply,” TBCA executive director Pat Swallows said. “We have a committee that evaluates the applications and selects the winners.”

Other area recipients include Loretto’s Gunner Dickson, Centennial’s Alex Beaman and Coffee County’s Hayden Skipper.

“Coach Mac (Jon McDonald) presented me with the idea,” Rutter said of applying. “It’s great to get a little money to contribute toward college and take a little stress off my family. It’s a blessing for us, so I think Coach Mac for helping me do that.

“It’s a blessing to be recognized and to receive that scholarship.”

Swallows said the TBCA’s fundraising efforts in recent years have allowed the organization to present nearly $12,000 in scholarships yearly across the state.

“We’ve been so successful the last few years. Our directors felt if we’re being successful, we should reward the kids, so we decided to present two scholarships in each region (of eight).”

The full list of recipients is as follows:

Region 1 – Ben Willcoxon, Sevier Co., $1,000; Clay Murrell, Sevier Co., $500; Region 2 – Tyler Boyd, Alcoa, $1,000; Region 3 – Cade Smith, Loudon, $1,000; Region 4 – Hayden Skipper, Coffee Co., $1,000; Briggs Rutter, Zion Chr., $500; Region 6 – Gunner Dickson, Loretto, $1,000; Alex Beaman, Centennial, $500; Region 7 – Matthew Cagle, Dyer Co., $1,000; Spencer Franckowiak, Dyersburg, $500

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at mopattonsports@gmail.com or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.

Mt. Pleasant to honor veteran coach Bassham

By Maurice Patton

Eddie Bassham, who won more than 600 baseball games and led Mt. Pleasant to three state runner-up finishes over a coaching career that spanned six decades, will have the school’s field named in his honor.

The Maury County Board of Education approved the request by administrators at the school during Monday night’s meeting to recognize Bassham, who guided the Tigers to Class A state runner-up finishes in 1989, 1998 and 2004.

The baseball field at Mt. Pleasant High School will be renamed Eddie Bassham Field in honor of the longtime Tigers coach, who led the program to three state runner-up finishes. (Courtesy photo)

“We knew going into the season this was going to be his last season,” assistant principal and co-athletics director Eric Hughes said. “Several felt it was appropriate for everything he’d given to the program over the years.”

According to Hughes, MCPS has a policy regarding the naming of facilities that involves a committee and also requires that the honoree be retired for at least five years. And while Bassham has been retired twice – following the 2004 season, and again in 2015 – he was in his second year of his third stint at the Tiger helm when his name was put forth for the recognition.

“We’re very appreciative of the board to allow the field to be named for Coach Bassham,” said Hughes, who played on the 1989 team. “He stepped back in in ’19, but the board was very gracious to take that into consideration and waive that. They realized the commitment he had made to the school and the kids and the community during that difficult time.

“We felt like now was the appropriate time. You hate the way the season ended, but this was a way to honor him.”

After a stint as an assistant at Middle Tennessee Christian – under son Brandon – a tenure as coach at Columbia Academy and a second retirement, Bassham returned for the 2019 season and was serving as the team’s coach at the time that high school athletics were shut down in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. A week into the schedule, the Tigers were 0-2 at the time of the stoppage.

The naming is particularly appropriate considering Bassham was such a force behind the on-campus facility in addition to the success he enjoyed on it.

“He was instrumental in the construction of the field,” Hughes said. “He had a vision of a field on campus, he raised the funds, he spent countless hours preparing the field. He built it from the ground up.”

A ceremony is planned for March 27 with the Tigers set to play Eagleville – coached by Brandon.

“Coach Bassham is well deserving of this honor,” said Neylan Roberts, a member of the 2004 team and a former Mt. Pleasant baseball coach as well. “He poured his heart into the Tiger baseball program and into the young men that he coached. 

“He taught those of us that were fortunate enough to play for him about how to be successful in the game of baseball, but most importantly, he taught us how to be successful in life.”

Hughes said a search is ongoing for Bassham’s successor, with hopes of his replacement being named by the end of the month.

Maurice Patton is the editor for Southern Middle Tennessee Sports. He can be reached by e-mail at mopattonsports@gmail.com or on Twitter at @mopatton_sports.

Locals earn academic honors

By Maurice Patton

A trio of former Maury County athletes was recently recognized by the American Midwest Conference for their performance in the classroom.

J.T. Hamilton, Alex Huey and Will McCall, members of the Freed-Hardeman baseball team, were named Academic All-Conference this week.

Student-athletes must be in at least their second semester at their AMC institution, attain a 3.0 grade-point average and complete the year on the team to be eligible for academic all-conference honors.

The conference recognized a total of 204 players – 40 more than the 2018-19 school year – from its 10 schools. Freed-Hardeman led the way, placing 34 players on the list.

Hamilton, Huey and McCall were each sophomores this spring for the Lions, who were 17-5 at the time their season was stopped because of the COVID-19 virus. Hamilton is a Zion Christian Academy graduate, while Huey and McCall both graduated from Columbia Academy, where they won the Class A state championship as seniors in 2018.