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Pioneer baseball team shows plenty of promise
Raleigh Gilliam.jpg
Monty Childers, Allie Childers and Angie Childers
Brady Melton pitches.jpg
Brady Melton pitches off a mound in the WCHS baseball team’s indoor facility on Friday.

The rest of District 6AAA has likely already received the memo. 

Beware of the Warren County baseball team this year.

The Pioneers have high expectations under the leadership of first-year coach Phillip King behind a team that features deep pitching and well-rounded athletes.

“First and foremost, this is a great group of kids to be around,” said coach King. “They like each other, they’ve bought into our philosophy and they’ve done whatever we’ve asked. This would be a great group even if they weren’t good at baseball. It just so happens they’re a great group and they’re good at baseball so that makes it even better.”

The Pioneers are bolstered by a true No. 1 pitching ace in Jack Keele, who has already signed to play college baseball at Trevecca Nazarene.

“Jack is our horse and we’re going to ride him,” said King. “We have a lot of guys behind him who are fighting to be No. 2 and we should really be very good in terms of our depth. Those No. 4 and No. 5 guys are needed in weekend tournaments or when we play out-of-district games. You still want to be competitive in those games when you’re not pitching your best guys.”

King said the primary goal is winning the district, which so often means getting past Cookeville. King calls the district games the ones that matter most.

King shied away from mentioning many players by name because so many positions are wide open, but he did talk about senior Heath Kuykendall, a pitcher and infielder, and senior Trace Adcock, a pitcher and outfielder.

As for other players who have already proven themselves against district competition, King said he’s glad to have Braden Bottoms back behind the plate at catcher and he said Ryland Holder’s bat was big in the middle of the lineup last year.

“We’re looking for kids who are willing to go out and give it their all, no matter the situation,” said King. “If it’s tryouts, make yourself noticed so there’s no way I can make a roster without your name on it. If it’s playing time, make it so I’m not about to make out a lineup without your name on it. Leave it all between the lines.”

King is a 1989 Warren County High School graduate. He played for baseball coaches that included Ronnie Brown and Jimmy Walker. He said he wanted to win for those coaches but he best remembers wanting to win for his teammates because they were a tight-knit group.

The Pioneers open the regular season March 9 in a non-district game against Mt. Juliet. For anyone who wants to get an early look at the Pioneers, the team will be scrimmaging this Monday against Rockvale.

Because Monday is Presidents Day and there is no school, the scrimmage will be held at 12 p.m. noon at Patrick Ramsey Field at WCHS.