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Baseball: SH, Elizabethton, UH favored

Douglas Fritz • Mar 13, 2020 at 12:00 PM

Spring sports are just now getting their footing, but face a likely disruption because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Many teams have already played multiple games, so here’s a look at some of the standouts in Northeast Tennessee.

Science Hill is favored to win the Big Seven Conference. Elizabethton is the top pick in the Three Rivers. And University High is expected to claim the Watauga Valley Conference crown.

Included are top hitters, pitchers, defensive players, coach’s comment, and a record update through Wednesday’s games.

BIG SEVEN CONFERENCE

Predictions

1. Science Hill, 2. Daniel Boone, 3. Dobyns-Bennett, 4. Tennessee High, 5. David Crockett, 6. Cherokee, 7. Volunteer

SCIENCE HILL

The Hilltoppers are off to a 2-0 start with a pair of league wins over Cherokee.

Top hitters

Caleb Marmo (Sr.), Matthew Levi (Sr.) and Landon Slemp (Sr.)

Top pitchers

Slemp and Cole Torbett (So.)

Best defensive players

Marmo (cf) and Slemp (ss)

Head coach Ryan Edwards

“For us to be successful this season, we need to develop our pitching depth.”

DOBYNS-BENNETT

Splitting a pair of high-scoring games, the Indians are off to a 1-1 start.

Top hitters

Jackson McDavid (Sr.), Derek Thurston (Sr.) and Aaron Farley (Sr.)

Top pitchers

McDavid and Sebastian Fugate (Sr.)

Best defensive players

Jaden Alderson (of, Sr.) and Dalton Harkleroad (utility, Sr.)

Head coach Ryan Wagner

“We need to pitch consistently, play solid defense, and get timely hits.”

DANIEL BOONE

Wins over Elizabethton and Morristown East have the Trailblazers off to a 2-0 start.

Top hitters

Brody Goodman (cf, Sr.), Cade Elliott (1b, Sr.) and Colby Backus (of, Sr.)

Top pitchers

Elliott and Ryne Haney (Sr.)

Best defensive players

Goodman, Elliott and Backus

Head coach Scott Hagy

“We need to stay healthy and do all the little things it takes to win. We must embrace the challenge and not run from expectations.”

DAVID CROCKETT

A doubleheader sweep followed by a tough win over Elizabethton puts the Pioneers at 3-0.

Top hitters

Cade Larkins (cf, Sr.) Nolan Miller (if, Sr.) and Cody Wheeley (1b, Jr.)

Top pitchers

Miller and Wheeley

Best defensive player

Garret Leonard (ss, So.)

Head coach Spencer Street

“We need to limit big innings and put pressure on the defense. The top of the order needs to get on base for the three through four guys.”

TENNESSEE HIGH

The Vikings are 1-1 after the two-game series against the Indians.

Top hitters

Brayden Blevins (3b, So.) and Daniel Hicks (1B, Sr.)

Top pitchers

Cole Presson (Jr.) and Lance Tudor (Sr.)

Best defensive player

C.J. Henley (ss, Jr.)

Head coach Preston Roberts

“We need to throw strikes and play clean infield defense. Our offense is producing early and we expect that to continue. We have a relatively young and inexperienced group, but they are talented. I am looking forward to coaching these guys. They work hard and have bought in from day one.”

VOLUNTEER

The Falcons are off to an 0-2 start after two losses to Daniel Boone.

Top hitters

Aaron Willis (c, dh, Sr.) and Caleb Trent (1b, Sr.)

Top pitchers

Tucker Bellamy (Jr.) and Ty Burnette (Sr.)

Best defensive players

Rylan Greene (of, Sr.), Peyton Derrick (of, Sr.) and Brody Cloud (3b, Jr.).

Head coach Michael Castle

“We have to throw strikes and make routine plays. We need to play hard and be aggressive on the bases. We will be counting on a lot of underclassmen on the mound.”

CHEROKEE

After facing favorite Science Hill twice, the Chiefs are 0-2.

Top hitters

Dylan Johnson (c, Sr.), Ryan Morgan (of, Sr.), Trent Price (of, Jr.)

Top pitchers

Jesse Forgety (Sr.), Lane Helton (Jr.) and Luke Condra (Jr.)

Best defensive player

Jackson Davenport (2b, ss, So.)

Head coach Todd Pait

“We have the talent to compete with anyone, but we have to come together as a team and start playing with some confidence. I look forward to seeing some significant growth this season.”

 

THREE RIVERS CONFERENCE

Predictions

1. Elizabethton, 2. Sullivan East, 3. Sullivan South, 4. Unicoi County, 5. Sullivan Central, 6. Johnson County, 7. Happy Valley

ELIZABETHTON

After getting knocked off by Daniel Boone, the Cyclones lost to Crockett and are 0-2.

Top hitters

Evan Carter (Sr.), Karson Dillard (Sr.), Jaden Anderson (Jr.), Bryson Rollins (So.)

Top pitchers

Carter, Ashton Wilson (Jr.)

Best defensive players

Dillard (utility), Carter (of), Gage Treadway (c, So.)

Head coach Ryan Presnell

“We have to deal with an incredible amount of adversity from our schedule. We will be tested week in and week out. But we know to be successful in the postseason, we can’t take the easy way around anything or anyone. We will have to be road warriors and even tougher at home. Our pitching depth will be tested beyond belief, but we believe when we arrive in the postseason we will have lots of pitchers with innings in meaningful games and hitters who have seen the widest breadth of high school pitching.”

SULLIVAN SOUTH

The Rebels opened the season with a win over Happy Valley.

Top hitters

Peyton Stanley (rf, Sr.), Eli Jennings (ss, Jr.)

Top pitchers

Stanley, Jacob Light (Sr.)

Best defensive players

Sean Reed (3b, So.), Brody Ratliff (1b, So.)

Head coach Anthony Richardson

“We graduated seven starters. We are very inexperienced and just need to play. It’s a hard working group, very excited to watch them get better as the season goes along.”

SULLIVAN EAST

The Patriots are 1-1 after splitting games with Unicoi County.

Top hitters

Perry Casaday (ss, Sr.), Dylan Bartley (3b, So.)

Top pitchers

Luke Hale (Jr.), Seth Chafin, Dylan White (Sr.), Bartley

Best defensive players

Casaday, White (cf)

Head coach Mike Breuninger

“We lost a few key people to graduation. People playing those positions will be inexperienced. If they get better, we will be successful.”

SULLIVAN CENTRAL

The Cougars are off to a nice 2-0 start with a sweep of Johnson County.

Top hitters

Trey Sells (cf, Sr.), Isaac Hood (ss, Sr.), Logan Bowers (c, So.)

Top pitchers

Sells, Ethan Bombailey (Sr.)

Best defensive players

Mason Buckland (lf, Sr.), Connor Wilson (utility, Jr.)

Head coach Clay Colley

“We need to hit the ball in order to be successful. We will throw strikes and be good enough defensively, but we need to put up run support for our pitchers. That will be the key to the season.”

UNICOI COUNTY

A pair of pitching gems by each team left the Blue Devils in the same 1-1 boat with Sullivan East.

Top hitters

Gavyn Sawyer (ss, So.), Valentin Batrez (c, Fr.), Peyton Whitson (of, Sr.)

Top pitchers

Whitson, Kaleb Metcalf (Jr.)

Best defensive player

Gavyn Sawyer (ss, So.)

Head coach Chad Gillis

“We need to compete every pitch, both offensively and defensively. The rest will fall into place.”

HAPPY VALLEY

The Warriors lost their season opener.

Top hitters

Zac Workman (c, p, So.), Jacob Absher (ss, Sr.)

Top pitchers

Eli Ayers (Jr.)

Best defensive players

Andrew Little (cf, So.), Dylan Willis (2b, Sr.)

Head coach Todd Caldwell

“We are going to have to take care of the small details of the game. We must be aggressive offensively and not sit back and wait for something to happen. We need to create our own opportunities.”

JOHNSON COUNTY

The Longhorns fell twice to Sullivan Central.

Top hitters

Matt Mowery (3b, Jr.), Ben Howard (ss, Jr.), Asa Lewis (1b, So.), Petie Pavusek (c, Sr.)

Top pitchers

Howard, Bradley Livorsi (Sr.)

Best defensive player

Pavusek

Head coach Pete Pavusek

“We need to hit and play good defense early in the season. Pitching has the advantage right now with the weather being so bad.”

 

WATAUGA VALLEY CONFERENCE

Predictions

1. University High, 2. North Greene, 3. Sullivan North, 4. Hampton, 5. Unaka, 6. Cloudland

UNIVERSITY HIGH

The Bucs have a pair of wins over Chuckey-Doak.

Top hitters

Brant Hare (1b, Sr.), Cade Pollock (ss, So.), Jacob Pealer (2b, So.), Kaleb Meredith (cf, Jr.)

Top pitchers

Meredith, Hare, Greer Barnett (Sr.), Pealer

Best defensive player

Hare (only 3 errors in 3 years)

Head coach Josh Petty

“The program needs for some players to step up and help solidify the back end of the rotation. We also need guys to fight for and accept certain roles that help our program meet expectations of competing at the state level.”

SULLIVAN NORTH

The Raiders beat Cosby and Providence Academy to open the season.

Top hitters

Tyler DePriest (2b, Jr.), Braydon Wilhoit (ss, c, Sr.), Chandler Raleigh (3b, Jr.), Dale Potter (ss, Sr.)

Top pitchers

Wilhoit

Head coach Steve Dixon

“Wilhoit was 9-2 last year with an ERA of 1.05 and a WHIP of 0.72. We should be solid in the infield, but we are going to have to develop three outfielders to replace three very good outfielders who graduated last year. It has been shaky in preseason.”

UNAKA

After beating the Flames, the Rangers improved to 1-1.

Top hitters

Nolan Bradley (cf, Sr.) and Daniel Shearl (c, So.)

Top pitchers

Luke Carr (Jr.), Joe Slagle (So.)

Head coach Tee Blevins

“We need to continue to grow every day on the field.”

HAMPTON

The Bulldogs are off to a 3-0 start.

Top pitchers

Josh Owens (Jr.), Dalton Rouse (Sr.), Morgan Lyons (So.), and Caleb Royston (So.)

Head coach Nick Perkins

“For us to have the best opportunity to be successful, we have to put the bat on the ball up and down the lineup. We are competing in a conference with three or four schools where baseball is their top male sport. We are aware of the challenge before us, but I am blessed to get to work daily with some of the finest young men I have ever been associated with.”

CLOUDLAND

The Highlanders dropped a pair of games against North Greene.

Top hitters

Collin Morgan (So.), Jordan Issacs (Sr.), Hunter Blair (Sr.)

Top pitchers

Elisha Guinn (Sr.), Collin Morgan (So.)

Best defensive player

Guinn (ss)

Head coach Nathaniel Patterson

“We have to do the little things right, not make errors and throw strikes. There is a lot of work for us to do to be better.”

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