Caleb Moore knows baseball from all angles, and he’s ready to try his hand at coaching.
The former East Tennessee State catcher and closer has taken a job at Happy Valley High School. He’ll be challenged to revive a program that won just four games last season.
“I always wanted to coach when I was through playing,” Moore said Wednesday. “I never really thought it would be at the high school level; I thought it would be college or pro ball. But this opportunity came about pretty quick. After meeting with (athletic director) Bernie (Young), I thought I couldn’t pass it up.”
Moore, a 28-year-old Knoxville native, is one of the best hitters ETSU has ever produced. He led the nation in 2004 with a .455 average and still ranks among the top five in many of the school’s career offensive categories.
He turned into quite a relief pitcher late in his college career and finished with 18 saves, second only to Bo Reeder, who had 18 last season alone.
Moore was taken by the Minnesota Twins in the fourth round of the 2005 draft and went on to play minor-league ball in Elizabethton, Beloit and Ft. Myers before running into arm problems. He underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow in 2008.
Moore came back, but his prospects were never the same.
“It was almost like I was damaged goods,” he said. “If they can get an 18-year-old kid who throws 95, or a 28-year-old guy who’s had Tommy John surgery, you know which way they’re usually going to go.”
Moore finished his career last winter in Australia, of all places. Now he ‘s looking at the game from a coach’s perspective.
Moore believes being an outstanding two-way player in college will help his cause.
“Not only do I think from a catching and hitting standpoint,” he said, “but also from the standpoint of a pitcher. I can kind of get in the head of a lot of different players.”
He’ll be trying to do so with many kids at Happy Valley. School opens today, and Moore wants to start selling the baseball program’s potential.
It’s a fresh start with a fresh face.
“I know they have some kids roaming the hallways that should be playing baseball,” he said. “They’ve struggled the last couple of years and just need a change in mentality. You want the kids to have fun, and winning is a big part of that.
“I think the baseball team at Happy Valley could develop into something special.”
Moore will have a lot of baseball people in his corner.
“I’ve talked to (ETSU) coach (Tony) Skole a few times and he’s excited for me,” he said. “I’ve talked to Jeff Reed and Ray Smith, who have been with the Elizabethton Twins forever. There are a lot of good people on my side, and I look forward to using them.”
n New women’s soccer coach Adam Sayers got to see his team under fire for the first time on Tuesday.
The Lady Bucs battled Campbell to a 1-1 draw at Summers-Taylor Stadium, and Sayers was pleased with the results.
“We were very happy with it,” he said Wednesday. “We certainly achieved all the goals we set out to achieve going into the game. We were focused on ourselves rather than the opposition.”
ETSU got its lone goal from junior forward Morgan Thomas of Maryville on a shot from the top of the box in the ninth minute. Senior goalkeeper Caitlin Gaughan made six saves in the contest, which included three 30-minute periods.
“I have a better feel for how we’re going to play,” said Sayers, “and I have a much better feel for which players are suited to certain roles within the system. That’s obviously a big step forward. Now we can train accordingly.”
The Lady Bucs will play another exhibition next Tuesday at Presbyterian, then open the season Aug. 19 at Wofford.
n The men’s soccer team gets on the field for the first time today and will have just four training sessions before heading up to Virginia for a Sunday exhibition.
The Cavaliers are ranked 22nd in the preseason and were one of five Atlantic Coast Conference teams to make the NCAA last season. The Bucs are the defending A-Sun champs.
“It’s going to be a really, really challenging contest,” said ETSU coach Scott Calabrese. “Virginia will let us know where we stand right away.”
The contest will be the only exhibition for the Bucs, who open their season at home against Presbyterian on Aug. 27.
Calabrese returns all but two starters and has 11 newcomers on a roster of 30. He said everyone is already on campus except freshman Sameth Al-Basith, an Englishman who is still waiting to be cleared by the NCAA.
The Bucs went 15-6 last season and made the NCAA tournament, losing 3-2 at College of Charleston in the first round.
n ETSU will be the site of three conference championships this school year, including men’s soccer.
The Bucs won three 1-0 games in the postseason last fall at Summers-Taylor Stadium, beating Stetson in the final.
Calabrese certainly welcomes the chance to host again.
“It’s a great situation for us,” he said. “I think the tournament was such a success, a lot of schools who ultimately ended up voting for who would host this year just felt that ETSU did a great job. Everything was professionally done, the facilities were great and there was a great atmosphere created.”
Tournament games are set for Nov. 9, 11 and 13.
Meanwhile, men’s and women’s tennis will be returning to the Buddy Hartsell Varsity Courts in the spring after a three-year absence.
Also, the Dome will continue to stage the indoor track and field championships in February.
n Here are stats for former ETSU baseball players playing in the minor leagues for games through Tuesday:
First baseman Paul Hoilman of the Boise Hawks leads the Northwest League with 11 home runs and is second in RBI, with 35.
Putting wood to ball consistently has been Hoilman’s biggest problem; he has struck out 73 times in 170 at-bats and is hitting .253 for the season. Over his last 10 games, the average is .194.
Relief pitcher Chas Byrne is 3-2 with nine saves for the Kane County Cougars. He has an earned-run average of 3.52 in 53.2 innings, with 52 strikeouts and 10 walks.
Catcher Derek Trent is batting .204 in 34 games for the State College Spikes. He’s just 4 for his last 32.
Relief pitcher Bo Reeder is 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in 11 appearances for the Pulaski Mariners. He has struck out 16 and walked nine in 16.1 innings.