Tag Archives: spring hill

Post 19 sets sights on region tourney title

By Maurice Patton

Scott Beasley considers his team “battle-tested”, but the troops are a bit thin as the Post 19 Seniors head into the American Legion Southeast Regional Tournament that starts Wednesday at Bobby Hayes Stadium in Pelham, Ala.

When the Columbia squad takes the field for the 10 a.m. opener – “Somehow we’ve had the opener the last four years; but it’s a blind draw, supposedly,” Beasley observed – of the eight-team double-elimination tourney against Tallahassee (Fla.) Post 13, they’ll be short three players that were in uniform for the three-game sweep of Pulaski Post 60 in last month’s best-of-5 state tournament series.

Spring Hill graduates Dawson Hargrove and Brandon O’Brien, incoming freshmen at Southwest Tennessee Community College and UT-Southern, respectively, opted out of the trip along with late roster addition Jacob Culberson.

“Obviously the first name hurts a little,” Beasley said regarding Hargrove, a two-way player who emerged as the leading hitter for Post 19 (.403) and tied for the team lead with four home runs while going 3-1 with a 3.36 earned run average this summer. “But at this point, it is what it is. We’ve got 13 that really want to be there.

“At the end of the day, you want guys that want to be there and you go from there.”

The Columbians head into regional tourney play with an 18-7 record, riding a six-game winning streak and having won eight of their last nine contests – a performance that encourages Beasley as the team heads south.

“From what I can find, (Tallahassee) is a team similar to ours,” he said. “From what I can tell, it looks like they’ve got a couple of college arms, ‘gonna-be’ college arms, and a pretty solid lineup.

“Obviously Tupelo (Miss., Post 49) has had a great year. They’re sitting on two losses and we beat them twice. We’re the only team that’s beaten them all season. Florence (S.C., Post 1) I believe is 31-3. Retif Oil (Post 285) out of New Orleans is a really solid program; they’ve already got two or three big-time Division I commits. They’re going to be a tough out as well.”

Rounding out the eight-team field – which includes seven state champions — is Troy (Ala.) Post 70, Covington (Ga.) Post 32 and the host Shelby County Post 555.

“That’s why we travel where we do throughout the summer: You’ve seen some of these teams,” Beasley said. “When you see them in the regional, you’re not scared by them. You’ve seen them before, you kinda know what to expect.

“I guess you could say we’re battle-tested. Does that translate into wins at the end of the season? We’ll see.”

After previously playing in the Mid-South Regional, this is Post 19’s second appearance at the Southeast Regional since returning to that region in 2019; last year’s tournament was not played as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We kinda get put wherever they throw us,” Beasley said. “Right now, our regional, the way it’s currently set up is brutal. You’ve probably got six of the top 10 states as far as teams coming out (to the American Legion World Series in Shelby, N.C.). I’m not saying there’s not some good teams in other places, but the fourth- or fifth-place team in our regional honestly could go win some other regionals.

“At the same time, it’s where you are, so you’ve got to go out and win it.”

Hickman County graduate and Freed-Hardeman left-hander Shelton Blackwell, who led Post 19 in wins (four), innings pitched (31.1) and ERA (2.23) will get the ball in Wednesday’s opener. He’ll be followed Thursday by Summertown grad Cory Francis, with Columbia Central rising senior Hudson Adams slated to start Friday.

“That’s the plan – but you get into tournament play and who knows who you’ve got to use in relief,” Beasley said.

Grant Burleson, the 2021 Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association’s selection as Class A Mr. Baseball out of Summertown, has not thrown since July 3 because of concerns over some arm soreness. Beasley anticipates the Columbia State signee being available out of the bullpen this week.

“He’s fine. For now, he’s fine,” the coach said. “He was about to come in at the end of the second game at the state tournament. We think he’s healthy to where we could use him as a closer. You’re not going to get ‘starter’ innings out of him, but if it’s one, maybe two innings, you’ve got him in your back pocket to try to close a game.”

Offensively – where Hargrove’s absence may show up more – state tourney most valuable player Brantly Whitwell (.352, 10 extra-base hits, 32 runs) and Brett Bell (.369, 25 runs, eight steals), both Spring Hill products, will look to solidify the batting order along with Burleson (.344, four homers, 26 RBI).

“I do think hitting depth has been our strength all year,” Beasley said, as the starting lineup stands to have five .300 hitters.

Post 19 will match up Thursday against either Retif Oil or Troy Post 70 – either in a winners bracket contest at 4 p.m. or in an elimination game at 10 a.m. Double-elimination play continues Friday and Saturday, with the tournament championship game set for 2 p.m. Sunday.

Games will be available via webstreaming.

“Small but mighty” may turn out to be the team’s battle cry for the week.

“When you’re taking 13 with three ‘POs’ (pitchers-only), it makes making the lineup really easy,” Beasley said. “But, get an injury and you’re up against the wall.

“Sometimes, everybody getting to play their part kinda energizes the team.”

Wednesday

10 a.m. – Tallahassee (Fla.) Post 13 vs. Columbia Post 19
1 p.m. – Florence (S.C.) Post 1 vs. Tupelo (Miss.) Post 49
4 p.m. – Retif Oil (New Orleans Post 285) vs. Troy (Ala.) Post 70
7:30 p.m. – Covington (Ga.) Post 32 vs. Shelby Co. (Ala.) Post 555

Thursday

10 a.m. – Game 1 loser vs. Game 3 loser, elimination game
1 p.m. – Game 2 loser vs. Game 4 loser, elimination game
4 p.m. – Game 1 winner vs. Game 3 winner
7 p.m. – Game 2 winner vs. Game 4 winner

Coaches happy with scrimmage results from Friday

By Chris Yow

Spring Hill football coach Ben Martin won’t take this for granted anymore.

After his team’s Friday night scrimmage at Lebanon, Martin said it was a blessing to be back on the field and getting work in without the team’s win-loss record on the line.

That was a popular sentiment around the area over the weekend, as high school teams got a chance to hit somebody new and in a different colored jersey.

Last season, scrimmages were not allowed due to the threat of COVID-19, but with the latest guidelines from health officials and the TSSAA, local teams took full advantage of the opportunity.

Columbia Central, with John Moore still getting his feet under him, traveled to Lawrence County. The interim coach said he was pleased with what he saw.

“We got off to a slow start, but Q Martin picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown, and that really revved us up,” he said. “We started executing a little better on offense after that, and I thought we did OK.”

“Our pad level is way too high, but that’s normal for this time of the year and our timing is off, so we have to work on that.”

Pad levels and techniques are part of the biggest corrections needed after these early scrimmages, according to coaches.

“We were terrible on technique and still managed to stay in the scrimmage. It’s the little things we harp on all the time,” Martin said. “We got some good work in, but I’m not sure how many questions got answered.”

Martin said getting a chance to control the scrimmage and correct mistakes as they happen during the scrimmage may not be ideal for fans who are clamoring for game action, but it’s vital to getting ready for Aug. 20.

“We were able to get out and correct things, and we got to see some stuff we wanted to see and look at,” he said. “It’s maybe not as exciting for fans with controlled scrimmages, but we get really good work being able to do it this way.

“We made mistakes, but nothing I wouldn’t expect to happen in the first scrimmage of the year.”

Mt. Pleasant coach Kit Hartsfield said his team bogged down in the red zone during their scrimmage at Cornersville and his team failed to score in the game. That, however, didn’t stall his optimism.

“It went OK,” he said. “I’m certainly not worried. We went up against good competition in Cornersville. It shows you where you’re at and where you need to be.”

Like Martin and Spring Hill, Hartsfield said his team didn’t play well, but still remained competitive.

“That’s what we are preaching to the kids is our ceiling is really high,” he said. “We looked fast on defense — had a lot of guys flying around making some big hits.”

Richland coach Nick Patterson was pleased, and for good reason. His team scored five touchdowns and held visiting Huntland to just two. The offensive production, considering the shake-up in the backfield this offseason, was a point of excitement.

“Overall, it was one of our better outings in my tenure here in execution and performance,” he said. “It was a good scrimmage for us, but there is obviously plenty to work on.”

The quarterback for the last two seasons, Sam Edwards has moved to running back in favor of Bryce Miller. That move has allowed Patterson to be more flexible with his senior athlete.

“Sam moved to running back and he’s thriving. It also allows us to use him more on defense, and he’s doing a great job for us there,” Patterson said. “I thought Bryce did a great job at quarterback. He handled himself really well.”

Patterson was also impressed with his team’s depth at this point of the season. A large freshman class has helped to bolster some key positions.

“Overall, I think we have more depth than we’ve ever had. There are a few places I’d like to have more, but team-wide our numbers are good,” he said. “I feel like we are building much-needed depth in a lot of spots.

“It’s good to be back.”

This week’s scrimmage schedule:

Tuesday

Collinwood at Mt. Pleasant
Summertown at Perry Co.
Columbia Acad. at Spring Hill
Richland at Giles Co.

Thursday

Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.

Friday

South Gibson at Columbia Acad.
Loretto at Scotts Hill
Stewarts Creek at Summit
Hillsboro at Independence
Richland at Moore Co.
Spring Hill, Summertown at East Hickman

Upcoming local prep scrimmages, jamborees

Tuesday

Collinwood at Mt. Pleasant
Summertown at Perry Co.
Columbia Acad. at Spring Hill
Richland at Giles Co.

Thursday

Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.

Friday

South Gibson at Columbia Acad.
Loretto at Scotts Hill
Stewarts Creek at Summit
Hillsboro at Independence
Richland at Moore Co.
Spring Hill, Summertown at East Hickman

Tuesday, Aug. 10

Mt. Pleasant at Waverly
Tullahoma at Columbia Central

Friday, Aug. 13
Maury County Jamboree
at Lindsey Nelson Stadium

Goodpasture vs. Columbia Acad., 6 p.m.
Dickson Co. vs. Spring Hill, 7 p.m.
Creek Wood vs. Columbia Central, 8 p.m.

Giles County Jamboree
at Sam Davis Park

Fayetteville vs. Richland, 7 p.m.
Lawrence Co. vs. Giles Co., 8 p.m.

Summertown at Rogers (Ala.)
Zion Chr. at Loretto

Coaches whose programs’ scrimmages or jamboree appearances are not listed are encouraged to e-mail sports@sm-tnsports.com with that information.

Fortenberry to fortify Spring Hill girls hoops

By Maurice Patton

Hurricane Katrina took place nearly 16 years ago, but the catastrophic event that wreaked havoc on the Gulf Coast in August 2005 has recently helped settle the Spring Hill coaching staff.

Wayne Fortenberry, who won three Mississippi high school basketball state championships over a career that spanned more than 30 years, has been named to replace Matt Horton atop the Lady Raider program.

“He’s got quite a pedigree,” Spring Hill athletics director John Farmer said. “His résumé is really impressive when you look at it. He taught and coached, but he was also a school administrator down in Mississippi for many, many years. He coached both boys and girls, but the majority of his career has been coaching girls.”

Fortenberry’s daughter and son-in-law – Dee Dee and Mark Montgomery – lost their Gulfport home as a result of Katrina, prompting them to move their family to Middle Tennessee.

“My daughter’s an only child, so when they moved up, we began to plan to, as soon as we retired, move up,” said Fortenberry, who officially retired as an administrator in the Biloxi, Miss., school system in 2014 after stepping away from coaching four years previously.

It was after he and his wife, Karen, arrived in south Williamson County, however, that Fortenberry picked up his third Mississippi title. With Pearl High School girls basketball coach Lacey Kennedy, a member of the United States Army Reserve, deployed to Qatar in November 2018 for 10 months, he helped Jason Kennedy lead the Jackson-area program to the 2019 Class 6A championship.

“Lacey, I’ve known from when she was playing high school and college basketball. Her husband and I are real good friends,” Fortenberry said. “She called me and said ‘the season’s getting ready to start in a few days and I’m being deployed for 10 months, can you come help me out?’ I told her, anything I can do, I’ll do.”

For the length of the season, Fortenberry commuted – staying during the week, returning home after Friday night games – helped with the Kennedys two sons and provided support on the bench as the Lady Pirates went 31-1.

“It was a great experience, but it was rough,” he said. “They asked me to stay (the following year), but I had to get back and see my grandkids play.”

The episode was emblematic of a career that also includes 1984 boys and girls state crowns at Hattiesburg Prep, in addition to stops at West Lauderdale near Meridian, Purvis and St. Martin in Ocean Springs.

“Like my wife said, I’m going to die somewhere in a gymnasium,” the 66-year-old said. “I don’t care who’s playing, I’m there watching.”

Among the teams he’s watched over the past few years were the Lady Raiders, who went 17-11 and clinched a Region 6-AAA tournament berth in Horton’s fourth and final season. Under Horton, who resigned in late June to take the boys basketball coaching position at Mt. Pleasant, Spring Hill posted its first winning finish in 18 years.

“I’d gotten to following Spring Hill and several other teams in the area,” Fortenberry said. “I met some of the kids. … I enjoyed watching Spring Hill play. When it opened up, I said, let’s give it a shot and see what happens.”

Fortenberry, whose grandson is Independence sophomore guard Jett Montgomery, will serve on a non-faculty basis at Spring Hill.

“It’s not ideal,” Farmer said. “Ideally, you’d like to have a coach in the building. It’s difficult sometimes to find the (teaching) certifications you need for the positions you need to fill, that can also coach. Sometimes you have to go the non-faculty coach route.”

Hampshire in coaching search mode as Brewer departs for East Hickman

By Maurice Patton

Ronnie Brewer wouldn’t have left Hampshire for another coaching job.

But after leading the Lady Hawks’ girls basketball program for the past two years, and serving as an assistant for a year prior, an opportunity to move into administration beckoned and Brewer answered.

Brewer began duties this week as assistant principal at East Hickman High School in Lyles.

“I would have never taken another coaching job,” he said. “I love the Hampshire folks. Hampshire is the best place I ever worked. It was a hard choice because of my girls.

“But it was the right move for me career-wise.”

The 53-year-old, who also served as athletics director for four years at Hampshire, leaves the school as one of Maury County’s three that is without a girls basketball coach as classes are set to start Monday. Culleoka and Spring Hill also have openings, though both are believed to be in the final stages of filling those positions.

“I’m excited for him – but I hate it for our girls,” Hampshire principal Sonya Cathey said. “It’s a very tough time. Hopefully the position should be posted soon, and we’ll go from there to see if we have any candidates, see who’s best for our girls.”

In his two seasons succeeding Darah Owens, Brewer led the Lady Hawks to a cumulative record of 35-17, extending the program’s run of region tournament appearances to three with back-to-back berths.

Owens, who assisted Brewer over the past two years, is expected to be an applicant for the vacancy.

“We’re looking to see what is the best fit for Hampshire girls basketball,” Cathey said. “Darah is an option. As far as I know, she is going to apply. We’ll see.

“We’re hoping to find some great candidates.”

Area high school grid preseason schedule

Friday

Summit at Riverdale
Overton at Independence
Columbia Central at Lawrence Co.
Hickman Co. at Columbia Acad.
Spring Hill at Lebanon
Huntland at Richland
Mt. Pleasant at Cornersville

Tuesday (Aug. 3)

Collinwood at Mt. Pleasant
Summertown at Perry Co.
Columbia Acad. at Spring Hill
Richland at Giles Co.

Thursday, Aug. 5

Hardin Co. at Lawrence Co.

Friday, Aug. 6

South Gibson at Columbia Acad.
Loretto at Scotts Hill
Stewarts Creek at Summit
Hillsboro at Independence
Richland at Moore Co.
Spring Hill, Summertown at East Hickman

Tuesday, Aug. 10

Mt. Pleasant at Waverly
Tullahoma at Columbia Central

Friday, Aug. 13
Maury County Jamboree
at Lindsey Nelson Stadium

Goodpasture vs. Columbia Acad., 6 p.m.
Dickson Co. vs. Spring Hill, 7 p.m.
Creek Wood vs. Columbia Central, 8 p.m.

Giles County Jamboree
at Sam Davis Park

Fayetteville vs. Richland, 7 p.m.
Lawrence Co. vs. Giles Co., 8 p.m.

Summertown at Rogers (Ala.)
Zion Chr. at Loretto

Coaches whose program’s scrimmages or jamboree appearances are not listed are encouraged to e-mail sports@sm-tnsports.com with that information.