East Hamilton baseball coach Steve Garland reached a milestone Tuesday when his Hurricanes beat Central 7-0.
Getting his 400th victory was a spot of good news in a season that has been filled with setbacks and injuries to a dozen players.
"That's the kind of thing that happens when they let you hang around," he said. "Our teams have had lots of talented, hard-working players and several skilled and caring assistant coaches along with tremendous support from parents and communities. I've been very fortunate over the years and am blessed now with our program at East Hamilton."
Garland is in his seventh season at East Hamilton and possesses a 153-84 record there. Prior to East Hamilton and the 2009 season when he worked as an assistant at Chattanooga State, Garland spent 11 years at Soddy-Daisy, where he compiled a 247-171 record. He has coached 13 district champions and a region champion, and his teams won two of three sectional games that resulted in state tournament trips (2004, 2015).
Current Soddy-Daisy coach Jared Hensley played for Garland and also served as his assistant coach.
"I have to be his favorite assistant all-time," Hensley said with a laugh. "I would not be coaching if not for him. He changed my outlook on life. I saw the impact he had on kids."
Hensley, who had entertained thoughts of a career with the FBI or TBI, has had his share of games with and against Garland.
"He's a details guy. His teams rarely make mental mistakes. They're going to be well-prepared, his pitchers are going to throw strikes and his teams are going to play good defense," Henley said of his mentor. "He's very thorough and all of his guys are going to be able to bunt, to hit-and-run and give him good situational hitting. They're well-prepared."
McCallie 43rd in U.S.
McCallie is the 43rd-best high school team in the country, according to the latest CBS/MaxPreps baseball rankings.
"It's nice and it's great publicity for the program. The boys deserve it because of the way they have worked," Blue Tornado coach Greg Payne said. "We're probably not going to get to play another of the other (ranked) teams, but the poll is something that's fun to talk about."
The only other Tennessee team in the top 50 is Hardin Valley Academy, which was listed 50th.
McCallie is 11-1 and part of the reason, at least of late, is senior catcher Quinn Smith. He has hit four home runs in McCallie's last four games.
"He has been as hot as any hitter I have ever coached. He's seeing the ball, but any success he has he has earned because he really works hard at it," Payne said of the VMI signee.
McCallie is No. 1 in Division II-AA in the latest Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association state poll, and Hixson is No. 10 in Class AA.
Also ranked No. 1 in their respective classifications are Siegel (AAA), Spring Hill (AA), Peabody (A) and Harding Academy (DII-A).
Trion third in Georgia A
Several impressive early-season wins have helped Trion be listed No. 3 in MaxPreps' GHSA Class A public school baseball rankings.
The Bulldogs (12-3) gave fourth-ranked private school King's Ridge its only Region 6 loss, and they also beat league rivals Mount Pisgah and Mount Paran. Trion trails only Schley County and Treutlen County in the rankings.
The rankings are crucial to playoff seeding. Trion currently trails King's Ridge in 6-A and is tied with Walker and Mount Pisgah with three league losses heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
Gordon Lee's Trojans have battled injury and a tough early-season schedule to ascend to the top of the Georgia Class AA rankings. Veteran coach Mike Dunfee thinks a weekend tournament enhanced team chemistry.
"We played in the Lookout Valley tournament and I really believe back-to-back 12-hour days — being with each other that long — helped us come together as a team," he said.
"You either become closer or you hate each other. Ideally, they become closer. The more you care about each other, the more you will fight for each other."
Ritchie shining at ECU
Former Bledsoe County pitcher Lydia Ritchie is enjoying a stellar softball season at East Carolina. The junior has started 21 games and has 11 complete games with six shutouts. She has a staff-best 2.68 ERA and leads the team with 139 strikeouts in 130 2/3 innings. She also has three saves.
During her time playing in Pike-ville, Ritchie was a four-time all-district pick and was twice named district MVP. She also was class valedictorian.