In this file photo, McCallie's Kade McGlohon (8) waits for a call with head coach Chris Richardson while on third base during the 11th Scenic City Classic Tournament.Staff File Photo
His McCallie club has played only seven games thanks in part to the rain that has plagued all spring sports and won just two and yet Chris Richardson is happier as a coach than he has been in several years.
He didn’t know what to expect. There were two full-time starters back from a team that posted a somewhat disappointing 12-20 record a year ago.
“I wasn’t sure what we would have. We’re a very young club and when the team is young it can leave coaches wondering, but I like the makeup of this team,” he said. “We have 20 guys dressed out and there are 20 guys that are making a contribution in some way every day. That’s something that has been neat about this group.”
Of the Tornado’s four losses — they also have a 4-4 tie with Walker Valley from the Scenic City Classic — two came in extra innings and three by a single run.
“One of those we had the lead going into the fifth,” he said.
Another of those was a 1-0 loss to Knox Farragut, which was ranked No. 2 in the country at the time of the teams’ game in McCallie’s tournament.
“If there is such a thing as a quality loss, that would qualify,” Richardson said.
Walker Valley had a 4-1 lead and McCallie rallied to tie it in the seventh, forcing an extra inning before the game was ended according to tournament rules.
“We were ahead late and they didn’t quit,” Walker Valley coach Joe Shamblin said. “They got baserunners on and then they got the big hit.”
Key leaders have been George Harrison, who hit a three-run homer to straightaway center field against Shamblin’s team, and big (6-foot-6) pitcher Sam Campbell along with Matt Reynolds, Tommy Green, Chase Morris and Mitch Dolinger.
It was Campbell who pitched the game against Farragut. He gave up a first-inning home run and then pitched three-hit ball the rest of the way.
“He has just been pitching about 10 months but the reason I threw him against Farragut was primarily because he wanted the ball,” Richardson said.
He has seen maturity.
“We’re in a growing-up process,” he said. “Against Farragut, Bradley [Central], Soddy-Daisy and Walker Valley we had the tying or winning run on. Some of it is those are good teams with a lot of tradition. In those situations we just have to step up and get that big hit.”
The Tornado bested Huntsville Sparkman, which beat Farragut.
“When you have young kids playing those type teams and never having done it, sometimes you have to fail before you can succeed,” Richardson said.
There appears, though, to be little doubt among his peers about McCallie baseball.
“Chris does a good job. Year in and year out his teams approach to the game as a whole is always good,” Soddy-Daisy coach Jared Hensley said. “Last year wasn’t what they had expected but after watching them and playing them, he has those guys turned around and they are a really, really good ball club.”
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 ...