New Tennessee Temple University coach Greg Bartley has his first two high school signees and they are both local players — Red Bank’s Bryan Burnette and Central’s Brandon Davis.
Both pitch and Burnette also plays third base while Davis is usually in center field when he isn’t on the mound.
“Coach Bartley has been looking for guys who could do both [positions] and I know also that he was looking for players with good character,” Red Bank coach Trey Hicks said.
Bartley said that he liked the versatility Burnette and Davis will bring to the Crusaders
“They’re dual players, which is something I am looking for,” Bartley said. “I want dual guys although I know I’ll probably sign some guys who just pitch. Most of them want to pitch and play in the field and hit too so I think this is good for both of us.”
Heading into the weekend, Burnette’s record was 3-0 with two saves plus 23 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings. Davis was 5-2 with a 1.40 ERA.
“It's a good fit for Brandon. He wants to get out and play, and I think he wanted to stay close to home,” Central coach Glen Carter said.
11 and counting
When Zach Stephens graduated last spring, Soddy-Daisy supporters were wondering how coach Jared Hensley would replace his power supply. Stephens, after all, hit 17 home runs last year and had 41 for his career.
Now that the big first baseman is off to a good start at Tennessee Tech, Hensley managed to find a replacement.
Senior outfielder and Lee University-bound James Fowlkes has hit 11 home runs and leads the next closest hitter by five. Through the four weeks of the season he is among area leaders in average (.523) and RBIs (29).
“James worked extremely hard in the off season to add some muscle. His incredible work ethic in the weight room and the [batting] cage has opened the door for the success he has had this season.”
Rumors about Zajac
When asked about University of Tennessee signee Brandon Zajac’s undergoing an MRI, Walker Valley coach Joe Shamblin responded by text message. “He’s OK. Probably a pulled or strained muscle below [his] arm pit. Resting until he’s 100 per[cent]. Not going to take any chances on hurting [his] career. He’ll be ready when needed.”
Pro scouts flocked early to watch the left-handed pitcher, but his velocity had dropped to 85 mph (from 90-plus last summer) when he signed with the Vols.
Among the best
South Pittsburg is ranked among the state's top teams in runs scored (10.3 per game), runs allowed (3.1 per game) and entered the weekend with the state's second best record (15-2, a loss behind leader 15-1 Jefferson County).
“We will see where we are next week. We play [Lookout] Valley and Signal [Mountain and] then go to probably the top class A tournament in Murfreesboro on Friday,” coach Wes Stone said. “Going to be a tough week for us.”
Sale Creek and Signal Mountain played a seven-inning game last week in near record time, taking just 56 minutes.
Both pitchers and defenses were on in the error-free game. The Eagles’ Reese Phillips got stung by a line drive early and responded by retiring the next nine batters on the way to a two-hit, 15-strikeout performance in the 1-0 victory. The Panthers’ Hunter Diefenderfer allowed just five hits, according to the home scorebook.
“Their guy did a great job. He worked ahead all night and he had a good defense behind him,” coach Bumper Reese said. “It was a fun game. Almost every hit was major.”
It was a different story in their second District 6-A game, a 12-11 slugfest that Sale Creek won.
“It was amazing, going from 1-0 to 12-11. After the second inning, they had us down 11-1,” Reese said.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...