published Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Branca, Fitzgerald, Hasty best in AAC

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — Preseason favorite Union College, the third seed, beat second-seeded Bryan College 11-3 before top-seeded Tennessee Wesleyan downed Milligan 15-4 in the Appalachian Athletic Conference baseball tournament Wednesday night. Earlier in the day, Wesleyan senior Stephen Branca was announced as the AAC player of the year and junior teammate Jeremy Fitzgerald was named pitcher of the year, while Bryan (40-17) had the freshman of the year in pitcher Kenny Knudsen and the coach of the year in Taylor Hasty. TWC is ranked No. 7 in the NAIA poll; Bryan has the ninth-most points outside the Top 25. Branca and Fitzgerald were joined on the All-AAC team by fellow Bulldogs Josh Culler, Taylor Oldham and Jake Stone and Bryan's DeWayne Boyd, Tanner Brown, Shane Clawson and Tyler Latham. Boyd, Clawson, Oldham, Stone and TWC's Zach Fleshman made the nine-man Gold Glove team. Branca came into the tournament with a .424 batting average, 16 home runs, 16 doubles, a triple, 15 stolen bases, 62 RBIs and 71 runs scored. Fitzgerald had a 9-0 record in 12 starts and 13 appearances, a 3.36 earned run average and 74 strikeouts in 75 innings. Knudsen made 24 relief appearances and was 3-1 with two saves, a 1.71 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 42 innings. Wednesday, Union (34-20) had a three-run third inning and an eight-run fifth against Bryan, which didn't score until second-team All-AAC Kevin Layne's two-run homer in the ninth. Josh Harris, Doug Stroup and Billy Veal each was 2-for-4 for the Lions, Stroup adding an RBI when hit by a pitch. They play Montreat at 11 this morning. AAC saves record-holder Adam Sanders was another second-team player for Bryan.

• Former Chattanooga Christian School and Montreat College pitcher Seth Blevins has started his professional baseball career in Austria and is 2-0 with a 1.50 ERA in 18 innings with the Stockerau Cubs. Pitching all 11 innings in a 2-1 win last Saturday against the Vienna Wanderers, he allowed four hits and no walks and struck out 13 batters.

Softball/Golf/Tennis

• University of Tennessee at Chattanooga freshman Taylor Deason from Clarksville, Tenn., was chosen the Southern Conference softball pitcher of the month for April, and UTC's Stephan Jaeger and Jordan Britt were the golfers of the month after pacing team SoCon tournament triumphs as the medalists. Deason went 8-1 with a save and a 2.18 ERA for the month, and she leads the league in wins with a 20-7 league record. She is the first SoCon pitcher with 20 wins since UTC's Brooke Loudermilk in 2007. Both Britt and Jaeger played high school locally, Britt for GPS and Signal Mountain and Jaeger for Baylor

• Three Reinhardt University athletes from Chattanooga-area schools in northwest Georgia were honored as AAC standouts of the week for their sports: Maddie Monroe from Calhoun as softball pitcher of the week and Cassie Quast from Murray County and Andrew Cobb from LaFayette as tennis players of the week. All are multiple honorees this season. Monroe pitched all four games, with three shutouts, in Reinhardt's run to the AAC tournament championship and an NAIA national berth. The AAC pitcher of the year, she is 20-7 with a 1.12 ERA. Quast won both in singles and doubles as the Lady Eagles lost 6-3 to Bethel (Tenn.) in their only match last week, and Cobb went 2-0 both at No. 3 singles and No. 1 doubles in road wins at UVA-Wise and Bluefield.

Golf

• Kelvin Burgin, the head golf professional at Bear Trace at Cumberland Mountain, tied Lebanon's Audie Murphy for pro honors in the Millstone Pro-Am held Monday and Tuesday in Morristown, Tenn., with 10-under-par 134s, and another Crossville pro, Greg Wyatt, tied for sixth at 140. Bob Rice of Riceville was the senior amateur winner at 137, and Chattanooga's Matt Robertson tied for second at 136 in the regular amateur division. Tennessee Wesleyan College basketball and golf coach Mike Poe tied for fifth at 146 among the senior amateurs.

Volleyball

• The Choo Choo City club program had 12 teams finish ninth or better in the Southern Region Volleyball Association tournament last weekend in Atlanta, led by a Club Division championship for the Choo Choo City 15 White team coached by Aaron Paris, a Club third place for Choo Choo City 17 White, a fourth-place Power Division finish for the club's 15 Black team and fifth-place Power showings for the 18 Black, 13 Black and 12 Black squads. The tournament included 551 teams from Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama. Choo Choo City's 18 White, 16 White and 13 White wound up fifth in Club brackets. The 17, 16, 15 and 13 Black teams will play in the AAU national tournament this summer in Orlando, Fla.

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