Eight high school Pioneer baseball players were named to the 6-AAA All District Team. Head coach Phillip King was named Coach of the Year, which is the fourth time in his career that he has been named District Coach of the Year.
All the players with the exception of Layne Roberts are seniors. Roberts is a junior. The Southern Standard spoke with each player and coach King about being named all-district, and the following are their comments about receiving the awards.
IN THEIR OWN WORDS
“This was my first full high school season playing. It feels good, and at the same time I wish I had played before. I sort of hate that it had to wait until my last season of my high school career. That’s on me.”
“I am glad that I was able to help the team out enough to win that award. Holding the district championship plaque would have been a lot better."
“I was all-district my freshman year, but not my sophomore year. It is nice to be recognized, but at the end of the day, it is about your team. It would have been so much better if we had won (against Cookeville in district championship game). Like coach King says, it is over now. We have to worry about Monday. If we win Monday, we get two more.”
“I started the season pretty well … swinging it pretty well, and then I kind of gradually went down. Now I am climbing back up again. When you fall down like that, you take extra reps after practice. Eventually you will find it again.”
“I am alright catching and doing everything during the game, but afterwards I will feel it. I am normally wore out afterwards.”
“I was in good shape after football. Obviously, football takes a toll on your body. After a couple of weeks I was fine. I was back 100%. Playing football was one of the best decisions I made. Baseball is my sport though.”
“First and foremost, I think Layne has done really well out there. He deserves that No. 1 slot. It was the first Stone series that I realized the coaches wanted me to be the No. 2. I am glad to be throwing a little bit, but everyone has done well.”
“Obviously, playing in the field is an everyday thing. Pitching is every 3-4-5 days. In the offseason you strive to be one of those everyday players. That just wasn’t me this year. Ben, Kason, Ryland and Omari have played well in the outfield. We are very deep out there, and they are doing a good job. That is OK.”
“I am very thankful and grateful, but the district championship would have been nice to have. None of my success comes without the guys who play behind me in the field. I am not the type of guy who strikes a lot of guys out. I get a lot of contact, and they play well behind me.”
“I played in the field one or two games, but I have DH’ed for the most part. I have been happy about it.”
“I just do my part, and do what I can to help the team. I enjoy getting hits. Winning the season was good, but I really wanted to win the championship game. It is not over yet. We will keep pushing and try to win more games.”
“At the end of the day, it is more about the team than it is about me. Losing that game (district championship) is disappointing, but at the same time we have to focus on Monday and the game against Bradley Central. We have a job to do.
“It is nice being recognized for your talent. It will give me bragging rights to my kids. I am glad we had good seasons in football and baseball.”
“I was all-district my sophomore year. We did not have a season last year. It is a big accomplishment. Everybody wants to be all-district. I thought as a whole team we deserved it. I think the team played pretty evenly all season. Everyone can hit 1 through 9. It was hard for coaches to pick who would be all-district. I thought Wyatt and Ty would get it. I think we are all at an even level.”
“If I am going to play a sport in college, it has to be one sport. If I tried to play both football and baseball, I think I would flunk out. They don’t give those players any slack. I will have to keep my head in the books.”
“It was nice getting this in my first year. I felt like I worked hard for it. This is my first year being on varsity.”
“When I started pitching, I realized I was pretty good at it. I kept working hard. I could not be as successful on the mound without my boys behind me. They help me out all the time. On Monday we are going out there and bounce back from that loss to Cookeville.”
“All the credit goes to Braden. He calls a great game all the time. He is my catcher. He is the captain. He’s a big guy. Nobody messes with Braden.”
“I just wanted to play good. I figured that we would probably win the district, and when you do, most of the players on the team get it (all-district). I didn’t really care about the individual honor.”
“All I cared about was winning that championship game. Right now it is about moving forward. The award is just one thing. The award doesn’t really matter.”
“We pass out a goal sheet before the season. There are short-term and long-term goals for the team. There is a part on there about doing what I have to do to get there. I don’t mind saying this out loud. What you want is for them to do the best they can. So if there is a kid on your team who wants to be the district pitcher of the year, the MVP of the league, and I want to be coach of the year, if you are, then that means you did well.”
“If I am somebody like Layne who is pitcher of the year, then I have obviously done something to help my team. As far as coach of the year goes, that is an honor. It is voted by the other coaches in the district. Most of the time it goes to who wins the district. The award never gets old. You don’t do it by yourself. You do it because you have great kids. You have a great staff that helps you prepare. It is not just me in this thing.”