Soddy-Daisy's Zach Stephens, who finished an All-Ohio Valley Conference college baseball career at Tennessee Tech this spring, wasn't selected in the major leagues' annual player draft but has signed a free-agent contract with the Texas Rangers. He signed and was on a plane the same day for Arizona, where he'll be playing in the Arizona Rookie League.
• University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior Keon Williams from Red Bank High School has been named to the College Football Performance Awards Running Back Watch List. He is the third Moc to be put on one of the CFPA lists for 2014, following defensive end Davis Tull and quarterback Jacob Huesman. "He will be one of the top Southern Conference players to watch this season," CFPA executive director Brad Smith said in the announcement release. Williams has played in 27 games and started 11 in his UTC career, and he has six games of at least 100 yards rushing and has run for 15 touchdowns. He had nine of those last season, when he was second in the SoCon with 98.1 rushing yards per game before sustaining a season-ending leg injury on the opening kickoff against The Citadel.
• Brainerd High School junior Jamee Ward excelled at the Lady Vols Skills Camp last weekend in Knoxville and earned one of the two "money balls" given to the top players in the all-star game that ended the camp on Sunday. Ward, a Best of Preps first-team selection who averaged 20 points and four steals a game this past season for Brainerd, was on the winning team in that eight-on-eight contest. Asked about her stats in the all-star game, she said, "I don't remember all that. I know we won, though." Ward's first out-of-town skills camp also included "a lot of drills -- passing drills, shooting drills and a lot of five-on-five," she said. "We had a three-on-three contest and then the all-star game."
• Carson-Newman University volleyball players Rachel Harper from Boyd-Buchanan and Kristen Pickett from Cleveland High School recently won two two-person sand tournaments together in Nashville. The first of those qualified them for the National Sand Collegiate Volleyball Association's national tournament at the World Series of Beach Volleyball on July 24 in Long Beach, Calif. "Coach [Dan] Ahiers sent us a note seeing if we'd like to compete since we'd be in the area," Pickett said after their qualifier triumph in May. "We went down there thinking that we'd get absolutely demolished. I don't know how we didn't, but we managed to get it done." She and Harper won seven straight matches in that tournament -- against tandems from Middle Tennessee State, Alabama-Birmingham, Belmont, Lincoln Memorial, Austin Peay and Trevecca Nazarene -- and bounced back from an opening-round loss this past weekend to win five in a row and the championship of the Nashville Beach Women's Doubles Tournament. Their last two victories were against the duo that beat them. "It has been helpful that we've played volleyball for seven or eight years now," Harper said. "We can easily encourage or pick the other up if we need it. We had to rely more on our knowledge of the game than on how high we can jump or how hard we can hit."
• Today is the deadline to buy tickets for Monday's dinner featuring legendary former Georgia and NFL running back Herschel Walker in Athens, Tenn. The Athens Chamber of Commerce event will begin at 6 that night at the McMinn County High School gymnasium, and tickets are available for $50 at www.athenschamber.org or 423-745-0334.
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