Ooltewah High School senior T.J. Binder has committed to play baseball for Troy University.
“Part of [the reason] was playing time and part of it was feeling more comfortable with those coaches,” Binder said. “They said I’d be in the lineup somewhere my freshman year. I don’t know if it will be at third base, first base, catcher or DH.”
Binder has played primarily third base for Ooltewah.
“I think they’ll play him at third base and he’ll have a chance to catch some. He could play some at first early, but he’ll be hitting in the middle of their lineup,” Ooltewah coach Brian Hitchcox said. “He’ll give them a solid left-handed hitter.”
Binder, who moved to Chattanooga from Jacksonville, Fla., before his freshman season, had other scholarship offers from Tennessee Tech, Wake Forest, Marshall and Lee University and also was recruited by Tennessee and Southern Mississippi.
“He could have wound up at Tennessee, but I think they’re in a scholarship shortage right now,” Hitchcox said. “This is a good situation for him baseball-wise and school-wise. They’re a Top 20-type program and they’ve been a mid-major powerhouse the last few years. He had some great offers, but I think he was just so comfortable with their coaching staff.”
Binder has a .470 career batting average at Ooltewah, and Troy was among the first to contact him on July 1, the first day coaches were allowed to make contract according to NCAA rules.
“I visited Wake Forest, Tennessee Tech, Tennessee and Troy,” he said.
As a member of the Chattanooga Cyclones, Binder has played at Troy, where the Cyclones have hosted some tournaments. He was familiar with the campus and had gotten to know those coaches during some of those tournaments.
The head coach at Troy is Bobby Pierce, who was among those interviewed at Tennessee to fill the Volunteers position when Todd Raleigh was dismissed.
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 ...