Pitching will be the strength of the Eagles this Spring
Evensville, Tn — Rhea county will be well armed this year as they look to the 2018 season opener in March. Gone are some key players from last year’s team. Departing seniors Cameron Wilkerson, Weston Ray, Braxton Dieckhaus and Lane Keylon provided a ton of offense last year, and they will be missed. Rhea County even without staff ace Braxton Dieckhaus, will have a staff with very good potential. Back are Ricky Guthrie, Ross Pendergrass, Baylor Dulaney and Dawson Lytle(returning after a year at Baylor) to anchor the staff.
There will be seven seniors returning to lead the team this year. Those will be Baylor Dulaney, Matt Levi, Braden Sims, Cameron Travis, Reece Cooley, Hunter Hale and Lucas Travis. There are some other key underclassmen returning this year. Some of those include Dusty Smith, Ricky Guthrie, Ross Pendergrass, and Jared Fisher.
There will be eleven freshmen joining the team this year. Assistant coaches this spring will be Michael Swafford and Jalen Smith. Rhea County begins practice on Monday, February 12th. The Eagles will play their Green and Gold Series and Alumni games before opening the season on March 13 at Cookeville.
Coach Rusty Ray said, “We had`some freshman who stepped up pretty big last year. I expect them to step up as Sophomores. We did lose a lot of offensive power last year. We finished eighth in the state in batting average. We lost seniors that hit well over 400 last year.”
“This is a seasoned group. A lot of these seniors have been two and three year starters. They are going to have to step up. Hopefully we can manufacture some runs.”
“Right now, every position is open. I need two outfielders. I need first baseman, a second baseman and shortstop. I have a catcher, but I need another catcher.”
“March 9th at 7 pm will be our Alumni game. We let them come out and play. No admission to get into the game. It will be just a fun night.”
“The main competition as always will be Cookeville. The last few years, it has been between Cookeville, Warren County and us.”
“Our schedule will be essentially against the same competition as last year.”
Talk about Lucas Travis, who signed with Bryan College recently.
“Bryan is getting a guy with character and coach Hasty knows that. Lucas is a guy that always jumps up first and leaves late on the baseball field. He’s got it in his blood. Someday he will be coaching somewhere.”
What have you seen from Dawson Lytle, who has committed to Kentucky University and comes to Rhea County after a year at Baylor?
“Dawson Lytle looks pretty good. It is not often you get 6’4″ lefty coming through Rhea County. He have a live arm. He is rehabbing his arm right now. Kentucky will be getting a good one.”
How are your departing seniors doing at College?
“Cameron Wilkerson is at Walters State. I see him playing some time in the future.”
“Braxton and Westin will be redshirted this year at Volunteer State. Westin tore his labrum before he went over there.”
Dawson Lytle talked a little about his College choice and the upcoming season.
“I went to Baylor last year and got to see a lot of good pitching. I got to go to a couple of colleges like Vanderbilt and Kentucky. I saw the college and how pretty it was and loved the coaches. I decided that was my choice. I really like the family atmosphere up there.”
“It is going to be really fun being back with my old Rhea Middle teammates. We should be dominant on the mound.”