The Grundy County Yellow Jacket baseball team came within one game of a return trip to Murfreesboro and the 2019 Spring Fling. The Loudon Redskins used a dominant pitching performance to defeat the Jackets 3 – 0 last Friday at Loudon. Last Wednesday, the Jackets fell to the Sequatchie County Indians 3 – 0 in the Region 4 AA championship.
The Jackets ended a fantastic season with a 17 – 16 record. They were the regular season District 7 AA runners – up and also were runners – up in the district tournament. They were the Region 4 AA runners – up and played in the sectional making them one of 16 remaining Class AA teams. It was a tremendous season considering a coaching change and a very young team. Head Coach Bryan Morris and his staff did a magical job with a young team to get them to the point they reached.
In the region championship the Jackets were limited to two singles and couldn’t get any offense to support senior Ethan Chouinard, who gave a great effort on the mound. The Indians plated two runs in the first inning and added a single run in the fifth.
In the sectional last Friday, the game was a pitching duel. Jacket senior hurler Steven Yates gave another outstanding pitching performance allowing only one hit and no earned runs in going five plus innings to give the Jackets a chance. The Redskins used two tough pitchers, that Coach Morris said, “Probably the best two arms we’ve seen all year,” to no hit the Jackets and limit them to four baserunners.
It was an exciting season and several Jackets were rewarded with postseason honors. Sophomores Jaden Ruehling and Jarom Huntley, along with senior Kenzie Hill made the All District 7 AA team. Sophomore sensation Alex Killian was named Co – “Player of the Year” in the district.
I would like to add a personal opinion of this team and this season regarding Grundy County baseball. Baseball at Grundy County High School has had success over the 52 years of this program with some very good coaches and four trips to the state tournament. Coach Frank Emmett Clay took the program for 17 years and was very competitive with some very memorable victories. Obviously, Coach Ted Ladd, along with the late Coach Chris Pickett had a remarkable run with state tournament appearances in 1988 and 1992. Head Coaches Tom Melton (‘04) and Chase Jones (‘18) also were very successful with state tournament appearances. Even though, Coach Morris and his staff didn’t reach their ultimate goal, it was a pleasure to see what I considered baseball at its purity. Nothing fancy, just good hardworking coaches and players working towards a common goal. It was a young team that didn’t have a lot of depth and battled through injuries, but in the end they battled to the end and I don’t think a lot of people outside that clubhouse would have thought these young men could have returned to the position they were in last year to have a chance to go to the Spring Fling in 2019.
One last thought, I have to mention how proud I am of a former player of mine, Steven Yates. Even though, it was elementary basketball where I coached him, I can’t begin to say what it meant to me to see him compete on the mound like he did, in his last two starts. He was injured early and didn’t get to pitch as much as I’m sure Coach Morris would have liked for him to pitch. Nevertheless, he gutted it out for five plus innings in pressure games to give his team a chance. It did my heart good to see that.
I think all the fans would agree, thank you to the coaches and the players of the 2019 Yellow Jacket baseball team for providing an exciting spring full of baseball enjoyment and good luck in 2020.