First round pairings, tee times announced for PrepXtra Masters

First-round Tee times and pairings for the PrepXtra Masters were announced on Friday. The two-day tournament, set for Monday and Tuesday at Tennessee National Golf Club in Loudon, features the top golfers from the News Sentinel’s coverage area.

Monday’s First Round

Tee No. 1

8:30 a.m.: Chip Thomas (Farragut), Ryan Hall (Halls), Steven Bagwell (Maryville)
8:40 a.m.: Tyler Johnson (Farragut), Jake Hall (Halls), Matt Copeland (Maryville)
8:50 a.m.: Brian Clark (Farragut), Cameron Yeary (Halls), Andrew Herman (Maryville)
9 a.m.: Steven Haremski (Farragut), Alex Hodge (Halls), Bryce Beeler (Maryville)
9:10 a.m.: Spencer Dye (Farragut), Anthony Basillio (Halls), Luke Bagwell (Maryville)
9:20 a.m.: Cade Russell (CAK), Sam Jones (Hardin Valley), Turner South (Webb)
9:30 a.m.: Mitchell Deeson (CAK), Dylan Vieyra (Hardin Valley), Nathan Allen (Webb)
9:40 a.m.: Chad Homan (CAK), Spencer Dodson (Hardin Valley), Blake Moore (Webb)
9:50 a.m.: Tyler Young (CAK), Derek Green (Hardin Valley), Ben Wofford (Webb)
10 a.m.: Preston Burleson (CAK), Will Heater (Hardin Valley), Palmer Bradshaw (Webb)
10:10 a.m.: Parker Simpson (Lenoir City), Kyle Cottam (Catholic), Luke Scealf (Grace Christian)

Tee No. 10

8:30 am.: Rachel McMahan (Farragut), Shelby Liford (Halls), Kelly Herman (Maryville)
8:40 a.m.: Emily Keeling (Farragut), Harper Cherry (Halls), McKenzie Davis (Maryville)
8:50 a.m.: Jenally Nolan (Farragut), Savannah Johnson (Halls), Sarah Hartsell (Maryville)
9 a.m.: Emma Click (Lenoir City), Dani Swaggerty (West), Kalina Scarbrough (Webb)
9:10 am.: Caroline Cavin (CAK), Ella Morton (Lenoir City), Lexi Shaw (South-Doyle)
9:20 a.m.: Alexis Hartwig (Webb), Emma Wasson (CAK), Victoria Noles (Lenoir City)
9:30 a.m.: Savannah Szozda (Kingston), Natasha Hughes (Anderson County), Kennedy Smith (CAK)
9:40 a.m.: John Sims (Lenoir City), Andrew Briggs (Jefferson County), Zeb Rogers (Anderson County)
9:50 a.m.: Wyatt Morton (Lenoir City), Jake Barnes (Patriot Academy), Caleb Milligan (Powell)
10 a.m.: Tanner Cook (Lenoir City), Brady Davis (Kingston), Kaegan Hackworth (Anderson County)
10:10 a.m.: Mason Moser (Lenoir City), Eli Cox (Catholic), Bo Fischer (West)

Alcoa pitcher Redmond Walsh to be preferred walk-on at Tennessee

Redmond Walsh is getting an opportunity to play SEC baseball, thanks to his high upside and impressive showing on this summer’s baseball circuit.

Walsh, a senior left-handed pitcher from Alcoa High School, committed to Tennessee on Wednesday as a preferred walk-on, announcing the news on his Twitter account.

“I played with Diamond Simcox 17U Blue, and had just a great summer, great team and great coaches,” Walsh said. “(Recently hired Tennessee assistant) Larry Simcox was really on my side through the whole thing. He coached our team for part of the summer, and then got with (UT coach Dave) Serrano.”

Walsh, who’s 5-foot-10, 155 pounds, is a high-upside pitcher who relies on location and execution rather than an overpowering fastball. He mixed his off-speed stuff and a low-80s fastball to finish 3-2 with a 1.64 ERA last season at Alcoa, striking out 57 in 51 1-3 innings.

“If you look up sleeper in the dictionary, it’s his picture,” said longtime area pitching instructor Brian Hochevar, who works with Walsh during the offseason. “He can command two-seam, changeup, breaking ball anywhere in the count. He’s an excellent competitor, and he can flat execute pitches. His best pitching is ahead of him. He’s about 5-foot-10, and … he’s a thin guy. If he gets bigger and stronger in that Tennessee program, he could be special. The biggest thing about him is he just flat gets guys out.”

Walsh said he chose UT over a scholarship offer from Tennessee Tech. He also considered Wofford College.

“What they told me is: ‘You’re going to have to earn everything once you get on campus,” ’ Walsh said. “They’re going to give me the opportunities, but my performance will determine whether I do end up on scholarship or not.”

Zach Reese promoted as Jefferson County baseball coach after Gaines Cox resigns

Jefferson County baseball assistant Zach Reese has been promoted to lead the Patriots’ program, school athletic direct Randy Rogers said Thursday.

Reese replaces Gaines Cox, who resigned for health and personal reasons. Cox, who was hired in February 2014, released this statement regarding his resignation:

“I would like to thank Dr. Walker and Mr. Rogers for the opportunity to fulfill a dream job two years ago. Having to step away from this job was difficult, but having physical problems that involve both hips, as well as neuropathy in both legs, made carrying out the responsibilities of the job extremely difficult. The symptoms began 6 months after being hired in February of 2014. I received cortisone shots in both hips this past March to make the baseball season bearable.  Hip surgery was done on one hip in late May. The other hip will need surgery sometime in the near future. I have a diagnosis of neuropathy, but have yet to find out the cause, which has made treatment difficult.

“Thank you to my wife, Kristi, and our four children for their support while coaching and as we are addressing these health issues. Many thanks to the coaches, Zach Reese, Zach Long, Charlie Munroe, and Langdon Potts for all of their hard work and help. Thanks to the players for their dedication and the improvement you achieved from 2014 to 2015. Thank you to Steve Devotie and parents for their work in supporting your sons as well as the program.

“I am extremely excited that Zach Reese has been hired. He does a fantastic job and his teams will be successful under his leadership. Coach Reese is a great person and coach. He knows the game and how to teach the game. He has a positive connection with the players and they respect him. He was a tremendous asset in many areas since he has been here as a coach. All the best to him, his coaching staff, and the players.”

— Gaines Cox

HVA’s Ryder Green vying for spot on USA Baseball’s 15U National Team

Hardin Valley Academy sophomore pitcher Ryder Green is one of 40 players still competing for a spot on USA Baseball’s 15-and-under national team.

Green was among the group that qualified on Tuesday for the 15U National Team Trials, a precursor to making the national team’s final 20-player roster. The national team will compete in the COPABE “AA”/15U Pan American Championships in Aguascalientes, Mexico, starting Aug. 21.  The final roster will be announced on USABaseball.com.

Green, who committed to Kentucky in June, appeared in 36 games as a freshman last season, playing a role in HVA’s run to its first Class AAA state championship.

The 6-foot, 205-pound right-handed utility player, who’s listed as a pitcher by USA Baseball, batted .260 with four doubles and 18 RBIs in 117 plate appearances last season. He made the most of his 12 innings on the mound by finishing 1-0 with one save, 11 strikeouts and a 2.92 ERA.

Jakes Stiles replaces Chad Tate as Grainger’s baseball coach

Jake Stiles was hired as Grainger High School’s baseball coach on July 10, replacing Chad Tate, who resigned from his post to focus on his roles as the school’s assistant principal and football coach.

Stiles rejoins the program after serving as Rutledge Middle School’s baseball coach last season. The former Carson-Newman standout previously served as an assistant on Tate’s staff at Rutledge High, his alma mater, and Grainger from 2007-14.

It’s the first high school head coaching job for Stiles.

“Following Chad is tough. He’s very meticulous and very ordered and a super manager,” said Stiles on Friday. “I kind of see how it goes and go with the flow, ride the waves as they come. I don’t know how my coaching personality will turn out, but I’m excited.”

Tate coached 11 seasons after being hired before the 2005 season at Rutledge, which eventually dissolved to form Grainger. The program won 242 games under his guidance, finishing 23-9 last season en route to the Region 1-AA semifinals.

“I’m glad (Stiles) got the job. I think he’s a great hire for Grainger,” Tate said. “He’s a baseball guy. He was a big asset for us. We hated not having him last season, that’s for sure.”

Tate said his departure wasn’t a surprise to school administrators.

“I just had to keep it quiet. I didn’t want to say it during the season,” Tate said.  “Just doing both sports, football and baseball, I got two little girls, and you’ve got to be dad, No. 1. Plus being an assistant principal and head football coach, it takes a lot of time. … . I’ll miss it, I love baseball. We were able to do a lot of good things. It was a great 11 years.”

Catholic’s Amari Rodgers, son of Tee Martin, offered by Tennessee

Catholic High School junior running back Amari Rodgers has reportedly been offered a football scholarship offer from Tennessee, the school his father, Tee Martin, quarterbacked to a national championship during the 1998 season.

Rodgers, a Southern Cal commitment, announced the news on his Twitter account on Friday. Martin is currently an assistant at USC, serving as the Trojans’ passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach.

Rodgers, who committed to USC in June, is rated a four-star prospect in the 2017 class and the No. 7 player in Tennessee by 247Sports Composite. The 5-foot-9, 200-pound prospect also holds offers from LSU, Vanderbilt, Duke and Wake Forest, among others.

How they voted: Public vs. Private split

The TSSAA’s Legislative Council rejected a proposal to completely split public and private school on Thursday during a special session at the Murfreesboro Doubletree Hotel.

The proposal failed, 5-4. Here’s how the council voted:

  1. Keith Turner, Science Hill: Yes
  2. Michael Reynolds, Central (Vice President): No
  3. Danny Gilbert, Soddy-Daisy: Yes
  4. Jeff Luttrell, Watertown: Yes
  5. Ron Woodard, Maplewood: No
  6. Mike Tatum, Lewis County: Yes
  7. William McAdams, Hardin County: No
  8. Dan Black, Bradford Special Schools (President): No
  9. Greg McCullough, Memphis Central: No

Sequoyah hires Spencer Beaty as girls basketball coach

Spencer Beaty, a former Maryville College basketball assistant and one-time girls coach at Gatlinburg-Pittman High School, was announced as Sequoyah’s girls basketball coach on Monday.

“Sequoyah is an area very similar to the area I grew up,” said Beaty, raised in Jamestown, Tenn. “It’s small-knit, a lot of pride. They’re close to home. I don’t have to move. I can continue to live where I live in Maryville and go there. Nothing hurts the fact they’ve had success.”

Beaty, 39, replaces Eddie Gambrell, who resigned in March amid an “unfortunate situation” of which neither he nor Sequoyah administrators elaborated. Beaty takes over a program on the heels of consecutive Class AA state sectional appearances.

“Obviously, these girls and this community have things going right,” Beaty said. “And that’s good. Expectations are high, and nobody’s expectations are as high as mine. They expect to win, and I’m excited for that challenge.”

Beaty returns to coaching after four-year break. He last served as an assistant on Mark Eldridge’s boys basketball staff at Maryville from 2007-2011. His only girls basketball experience came during the 2006-07 season, when he guided a struggling Gatlinburg-Pittman program to a 13-12 finish to earn district coach of the year honors.

“I have still been at Maryville teaching (since I left coaching),” Beaty said. “I just had to battle through some personal and family issues, so I got out of coaching. I had to readjust, but I’m ready to get back into it. My kids and family are intact, so it’s time to move forward.”

Beaty also served as a women’s basketball assistant at Maryville College, his alma mater, for one season after graduating, before joining the men’s staff for four more. He coached in five Division III NCAA Tournaments, and played in two more as a player for the Scots.

Bearden’s Alaeni Ray decides not to walk on at Tennessee

Former Bearden High School softball standout Alaeni Ray plans to enroll at Chattanooga State this upcoming season instead of accepting a preferred walk-on spot at Tennessee.

Lori Ray, Alaeni’s mother, confirmed the news to the News Sentinel on Sunday night.

“Alaeni has changed her commitment from UT,” Lori Ray said. “She decided a few weeks ago to go to Chattanooga State. She just wanted to be ready before she went to a bigger school, and we know UT has a lot of girls coming in this year, and she wanted to make sure she was in her top form.”

Ray, a skilled shortstop, earned All-PrepXtra first-team honors this past season, helping Bearden make its first Class AAA state tournament appearance by batting .409 with five homers.

Hardin Valley’s Joe Michalski, four area baseball players honored

Hardin Valley Academy’s Joe Michalski has been named coach of the year on American Family Insurance’s All-USA baseball team for Tennessee.

The lists, which were revealed on Wednesday by USA Today Sports, were compiled based on players’ athletic achievements during the 2015 season.

Michalski also earned PrepXtra Coach of the Year honors this past season after guiding the Hawks to their first Class AAA state championship. Here’s the writeup on Michalski from the release:

“Going 1-for-1 is perfect. It’s also pretty amazing, considering Michalski skippered Hardin Valley into its first state tournament this year (the school opened in 2008) and won it all. The Hawks broke open a 2-2 score in the ninth inning by scoring eight runs in the Class AAA title game against rival (and defending champion) Farragut in May. Hardin Valley finished 30-15.”

Four players from the PrepXtra coverage area were named to the teams.

Farragut pitcher Patrick Raby, who was named PrepXtra Pitcher of the Year the past two seasons, joined senior teammate Chase Fullington (second base) and Grainger’s Trey Cabbage (third base) on the first team. Fullington signed with North Carolina. Cabbage signed with Tennessee, before opting for a pro contract with the Minnesota Twins. He was drafted in the fourth round of last month’s Major League Baseball draft.

Catholic catcher Kole Cottam, named PrepXtra Offensive Player of the Year this past season, garnered second-team honors.