Boyd-Buchanan School graduate Rachel Harper, now a top hitter for the Carson-Newman University volleyball team, will be playing next week in Italy, Montenegro and Croatia as part of Bring It Promotions' ninth annual Global Challenge. Her team will include two players from South Atlantic Conference rival Wingate, one from Stetson, a Miami recruit and four national or regional High Performance players from Florida, Colorado and Wisconsin. The July 15-18 tournament will include junior national, youth national and elite women's club teams from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Israel, Slovenia, Russia and Romania as well as the United States and the three host countries. "I'm thrilled to bring Carson-Newman overseas," Harper said in a school release. "I want to bring the skills I learn over there back to my teammates so we can get better for the fall." The varied competition "always brings a new aspect to our game," said the former Lady Bucs star, who faced the Nicaraguan national team last summer. "It's nice to learn from other countries on how they do things. I'm hoping to use it as a preseason before the preseason." She thanked God for the international experience. "I'm just blessed and glad to honor him with these opportunities," Harper said.
• Aric Thomas has joined head coach Dave Serrano's staff with the University of Tennessee baseball program. Thomas, a former assistant coach at Oklahoma (1996-2004 and 2012-13) who had a 237-159-1 record from 2004 to 2011 as head coach at Eastern Oklahoma State College, comes to the Volunteers with Bill Mosiello having taken a position at TCU after two years helping Serrano, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel. Serrano announced the hiring of Thomas by Twitter on Sunday night. "I went outside the box of hiring a [UT] family member or someone I've worked with or played with," Serrano said, according to the KNS. "I had a great pool [of candidates], and Aric just won me over with his professionalism and his prowess as a recruiter." A 1995 Oklahoma graduate, Thomas is a native of Riverside, Calif., not far from where Serrano worked at Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine, and played at UC Riverside while Serrano was a Fullerton assistant.
• Chattanooga State and Cleveland State community colleges are taking registrations for their annual fall instructional baseball leagues for high-school-aged players. The Chattanooga State league will run Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings from Aug. 19 to Sept. 30 with instruction provided by Tigers coach Greg Dennis and assistants Coty Green and Trey Burstrom. Players will be grouped according to age and ability and will be attempting a schedule, weather permitting, of 12 games. The cutoff for players is 75, at fees of $200 for first-time participants, $150 for second-year league members, $100 for third-year players and $50 for fourth-year guys. Anyone interested can call 697-2418. The Cleveland State league headed by coach Mike Policastro (748-6219) will run Aug. 12-Sept. 15, also with instruction and games.