Filed by Ward Gossett
Once youre around for a while, you learn to carry extra jackets, gloves, ear muffs and other cold-weather attire when going to watch early season high school baseball games.
The cold weather, brisk winds and rain didnt affect some of the players, in particular Ooltewah outfielder/pitcher Kyler Burke. Yes, he has signed with Vanderbilt, but he may never get there because of the major-league baseball draft. There were 31 scouts at one of his games.
In the Owls tournament this past weekend, he was 8-for-14 (.571) with four homers, a double and 11 RBIs. The left-hander also pitched a two-hitter with nine strikeouts.
Also among players who impressed last week were East Ridge hitters Andrew Root and Cal Aplin. They were instrumental in both of the Pioneers surprising district 6-AA wins over Hixson.
East Ridge is only 2-7 but the Pioneers right now are finding ways to beat themselves. Give them another month with coach Lee Coffman and they could be in the thick of the district race.
Other impressions from the first two weeks:
Hixson has one of the best playing fields in southeast Tennessee.
Marion County can hit with most anybody.
Red Bank has the pitching, but must improve its hitting to challenge Ooltewah for the 6-AAA title.
Boyd-Buchanan, which moved from Class A to Class AA this year, surprised everybody by beating 5-AAA favorite McMinn County. Still, the Cherokees have one of the areas best clout combos in Will Dowdy and Matt Tanzi.
Ringgolds Kyle Heckathorn may wind up being the best pitcher in the area, but I was surprised that he and the Tigers finished 1-3 in the Scenic City tournament.
Although it finished second in the Scenic City Invitational, Baylor accomplished much by just getting to the finals. This tournament is probably the states strongest, even including the post-season.
E-mail Ward Gossett at wgossett@timesfeepresscom