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Taking home top honors
Four Pioneers named all-district
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Claiming a District 6-AAA championship was a huge accomplishment for the Warren County High School baseball team and several players had strong individual seasons to make it happen. Four of those Pioneers were named Wednesday on the All-District 6-AAA team.
Senior Logan Underhill shared Co-District 6-AAA player of the year honors while senior pitcher Ryan Jennings, junior hurler Will Sweeton and junior first baseman Chayse Frye were each named first-team All-District 6-AAA. All four were instrumental in helping the Pioneers finish the season 17-22, which included four wins in the district tournament that helped take home the school’s first district title since 2001.
Underhill, an all-district performer the past two seasons for the Pioneers, shared player of the year honors with Cumberland County star Matt Ledbetter. A starter since his freshman season, Underhill blossomed as a senior while adding new roles. Already the team’s starting shortstop and lead-off batter, Underhill stepped up as one of the team’s aces on the mound this year.
Underhill pitched in two of the team’s biggest wins of the season – the District 6-AAA title game against Cookeville and an elimination matchup against Rhea County in the district tournament. Underhill got the win in both games, which raised his season record to 5-2 overall. Underhill had two shutouts on the mound – one coming in his first-ever district start against White County – and finished with a 2.48 ERA.
At the plate, Underhill was a terror for opposing pitchers. For the year, the Pioneer lead-off hitter finished with a .467 average. Underhill upped his batting average to .490 in 18 district games, highlighted by four-hit games against Stone Memorial and Cumberland County. His offensive stats also included a home run against Lawrence County, 24 RBIs, 35 runs scored and eight stolen bases.
Coach Adam Childs had plenty of great things to say about his star shortstop.
“Logan has been a big part of this team for the last three years and put it all together to have a great senior year,” said Childs. “We counted on him to get things rolling at the top of the lineup and he did that for most of the year. He also stepped up big on the mound and helped us get some big wins.”
Jennings, Sweeton and Frye were each honored as all-district for the second straight season.
Jennings opened the season as the Pioneers No. 1 starter and the senior lefty didn’t disappoint. From opening night, Jennings was a vital part of the Pioneers’ success. In the first game of the season, Jennings was brilliant against Coffee County. The southpaw struck out 10 batters while shutting down the Red Raiders for seven innings. Warren County would go on to win the game 2-1 in 14 innings.
In district action, Jennings was on the hill when the Pioneers beat Rhea County on senior night. Jennings went the distance in one of his three complete games this season. Jennings also earned a victory against Cumberland County in a must-win District 6-AAA tournament game at Patrick Ramsey Field. For the year, Jennings was 3-3 with a 2.77 ERA.
Consistency was always something coach Childs believed he got from Jennings.
“Ryan had another solid year. We counted on him to be one of our No. 1 guys this year and he came through,” said Childs. “He was someone we knew we could put out there and he would keep us in games. He is another example of hard work.”
Sweeton continued to emerge as a great option on the mound for the Pioneers in his junior year. A submariner, Sweeton got a chance to get more opportunities against district opponents this year as part of a three-man rotation that included Underhill and Jennings. Sweeton’s break-out performance came in the District 6-AAA preseason tournament when he went eight innings to help the Pioneers beat Rhea County 4-3 in extra innings. He’d go on to finish the season 4-5 overall, but 3-2 in district games.
Coach Childs believes Sweeton seems to get better each season.
“Will was a bit of a surprise last year and then this year he just continued to get better,” said Childs. “We weren't sure how much we were going to use him but as the year went on he kept throwing well so we put him in some more pressure situations and he almost always came through. He is just a competitor and worked hard and it showed in the year he had.”
After a slow start to the season at the plate, Frye hit his stride when the district games started. The powerful lefty was the one Pioneer coaches wanted at the plate when runners needed to be brought around, as evidenced by Frye leading the team with four home runs and 41 RBIs. None of Frye’s blasts were bigger than the three-run home run he hit against Cookeville in the District 6-AAA title game.
For the year, Frye finished with a .456 batting average – just a few points below Underhill’s team-leading mark. In 18 district games, Frye jumped his average to an outstanding .541 as he had 33 hits in 61 at-bats.
Coach Childs is happy to have his feared clean-up hitter coming back next season.
“Chayse had a great year. Based on stats, it looked like he came out of nowhere but this is the Chayse we have seen in practice for three years,” said Frye. “He finally put it all together at the plate. He was someone we counted on to get the big hits and he rarely disappointed. We are excited to see what he can do for his senior year.”