The biggest player on any diamond so far this spring has been Mother Nature as weather has prohibited on field practice for most teams around the state. The Yellow Jacket baseball team has actually practiced on a field a total of three days.
Monday’s baseball game with DeKalb County was cancelled and will have to be rescheduled.
The Jackets return quite a few starters and both hope to be in the mix chasing the district title.
“This has been a pretty interesting preseason for us. It’s the worst weather I can remember as a player or a coach. The saving grace is that everyone is in the same boat as we are. The first week of practice, which started February 9, we got out on the field the first three days and that’s the only days we’ve been our field so far. We were able to go down and scrimmage Franklin County that first Saturday and then we scrimmaged Tullahoma and Coffee County last week. We’ve been fortunate enough to get those two scrimmages in and been on the field the three other days. That’s probably the average of most teams across the state right now,” said Coach Chase Jones.
Baseball has seven seniors that will be impact players. Five of those will be with Coach Jones for their third year. Another is a transfer that has already signed college papers and the seventh is a player who is returning after not playing the last couple of years.
“This group of seniors were sophomores when I came in my first year. They bought in as soon as I got here and they’ve done everything I’ve asked them to do. They’ve grown as players and as young adults since I’ve been here. It’s going to be exciting to watch them as the season progresses.
“Those seniors are Hunter Condra, who hasn’t played since his freshman year; Dallas Bryan transferred from Coffee County and I think he’s going to help us quite a bit; Chandler Knight, Tanner Foutch, Ethan Smith, Taten McBee, and Elijah Bean are the ones who’ve been there the whole way and we’re depending on them to lead us.
“Elijah will be one that we’re going to have to take it slow getting his knee back to where it needs to be. He took a test the other day and he’s at 80% so we’ll have to take it slow getting him back into the mix. He’ll probably start off in the DH spot and pitch some. His role will increase as he gets healthier. We need him in April and May so we don’t want to do anything to hurt his progress,” said Jones.
The coach thinks the district will be very competitive and the team will have to play strong every single inning.
“It should shape up for a pretty competitive year in the district. Chattanooga Christian returns most of their players. Signal Mountain lost one on the mound but returned everybody else. If anybody has an advantage right now, it’s going to be Sequatchie County because they have that huge indoor facility and they’ve been practicing everyday inside of it. So, they’ll probably be a little bit ahead of everybody in the beginning. Bledsoe will be much improved. Notre Dame had a young squad last year but their coach does a great job with them. They’ll be very competitive.
“Night in and night out, if we don’t show up and play we’re going to get beat. That’s what makes it fun. There’s no pushovers. The thing that we emphasize daily is to treat the game with respect. Play hard and it doesn’t matter if we’re 10 runs up, 10 runs down or a tie ball game, if somebody comes into the ball park and is watching our team play and there wasn’t a scoreboard they shouldn’t be able to tell the score by watching the mannerisms of our kids. We’re going to play as many innings as there needs to be to finish the last out. Our goal is to win every pitch.
“I can’t wait. I know our kids can’t wait. For thousands of high school baseball players across Tennessee opening day is like Christmas morning. There’s an excitement and anticipation with this group that is contagious. As a team and as a coach I can’t wait for this season to begin,” said the coach.
Grundy was set to play at Marion County Tuesday barring rain. Thursday through Sunday, they will play in the Hixson Tournament facing Tyner at 4 p.m. on Thursday and Hixson at 6 p.m. Saturday they play Northeast at 1 p.m. at Hixson and Chattanooga Central at Central at 5 p.m.
Monday begins the Tennessee Valley Classic and the Jackets will play Sequatchie at 3 p.m. and Bledsoe at 5:30 p.m. in Dunlap. Tuesday they host Chattanooga Christian at 5p.m. in the tourney. Wednesday they play Notre Dame at 4 p.m. at Notre Dame.
Get out and support the Jackets this week!