After losing most of last season to the coronavirus pandemic, Brentwood Academy coach Chandler Ganick is happy that baseball is back.
So are the rest of the coaches in the Williamson County area.
“I’m glad that sports have gone the way they have this year so far and it’s kind of down to anything we can do to get the boys back on the field,” Ganick said. “I just think athletics is so important, especially during all of this. Being able to have, hopefully, a full season would be just a blessing.”
BA opens its season March 15 against a team from Oklahoma in the Gulf Shores Classic in Alabama.
The Eagles were off to a 1-1 start last year when the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association halted spring sports early due to COVID-19 concerns. The season was later canceled that following April.
“It was tough,” Ganick said. “I mean, we’ve got guys who have been playing baseball their whole lives. Just getting it ripped out from under your feet without any preparation is really tough.”
Nolensville won its first three games over Tullahoma, Warren County and Brentwood last season before the pandemic shut things down.
“It happened so quickly,” Knights coach Zach Hudson said. “You didn’t really have time to process what all was happening and then you’re holding out hope that things would turn for the better as we’re kind of waiting it out. And then, obviously, things got shut down.”
Nolensville was scheduled to open practice Feb. 15, but the snowy weather prevented the Knights from getting outside.
“I figure we’ve probably waited about 11 months anyway to do baseball, so we can wait a few more days,” Hudson said. “We’re ready to get going and excited for the season.”
Nolensville made it to the Class AA semifinals in 2019, so expectations were high for the season that was ruined by COVID-19.
“We only lost two seniors going into 2020, so we had an experienced group that had been through it,” Hudson said. “We really felt like we had all the pieces to make a deep run. (The seniors) were freshmen the year we started. They had been through the hard times. Year one, their freshman year, we went 2-26. You just hurt for those guys.”
The Knights host Independence in their season opener on March 15.
Losing last season will undoubtedly make most players appreciate this year even more.
“They came out hungry,” Franklin coach Wally Whidby said. “Our offseason workouts have been tremendous. You can tell that they missed it and they’re not taking this for granted.”
College prospects suffered lost opportunities last year.
“This pandemic has taken so much from (the players), from the recruiting process,” Whidby said. “Some of the guys that possibly had a future in college baseball have kind of almost had to table that dream because the recruiting process has gotten so crazy. They’re already recruiting for the Class of ’23, so the ’21s didn’t even get a season to really show what they had the year that most of them would be getting highly recruited.”
Whidby, a Franklin assistant the previous four seasons, has high hopes for his first season as head coach.
“(The seniors) are used to winning,” Whidby said. “They won it all when they were together at Grassland, they won it all their sophomore season at the JV tournament out at Nolensville. It would be nice if history repeated itself and we continued their winning ways.”
Whidby, a former Franklin pitcher, played in the Division II College World Series for North Alabama in 1999.
Franklin’s opener is March 17 at Battle Ground Academy. The Rebels got off to a 0-4 start in 2020 before the pandemic ended the season.
Top returning players
Taylor Montiel, pitcher/outfielder/first baseman, Mississippi State signee
Joe Battaglia, pitcher/first baseman, Cairn (Pennsylvania) signee
Casen Calmus, shortstop, son of former Titans/Oklahoma linebacker Rocky Calmus
Ian Scott, infield, sophomore
Christian Murphy, pitcher/utility, Central (Iowa) signee
Cooper Derryberry, infield, junior
“It’s a really athletic group,” Ganick said of the Eagles.
Ethan McElvain, LHP/outfielder/first baseman, sophomore, Summit transfer, 6-foot-4, fastball velocity 90-92-mph, Vanderbilt commit; older brother, Chris, pitches for Commodores.
Tyler Hummel, pitcher/infield/outfield, junior
Ethan Syling, outfielder, senior
Jackson Hill, outfielder, senior
Brian Cluck, senior, designated hitter
Carson Garner, shortstop, third-year starter, Murray State commit, hit seven homers for summer travel team
Daniel Sherman, catcher, Rhodes commit
Joseph Waters, middle infielder, Liberty signee, returning from wrist injury, soft hands defensively
AJ Russell, RHP, Lakeridge, Lake Oswego, Ore., transfer, 6-5, college prospect
Caleb Anderson sophomore, utility/likely second baseman, Division I prospect
Mason Swartz, first baseman, LHP/ junior college prospect
Ben Brown, pitcher/first baseman, senior, team’s second-leading hitter last season
Jack Scully, pitcher/infielder, senior
Aiden Gray, pitcher/outfielder, senior
Peyton Conley, outfielder, senior
Clay Curtis, utilityman, senior
Garett Stinson, outfielder, senior
Nolan Wells, pitcher, junior
Ryan Connally, pitcher, junior
Jackson Riggs, catcher
Jason Bennett, catcher
Jason Bennett, sophomore, led team in hitting last year
Ben Severance, shortstop, Tennessee-Martin signee, second team All-District 11-AAA in 2019
Austin Johnson, second baseman, Freed-Hardeman signee
Ryan Augustin first baseman, senior
Juniors Thomas Cooper, third baseman, junior
Myles Denton, utilityman/pitcher, junior
Blake Bevis, first baseman/pitcher, junior
Seniors Tyler Petro, outfielder, senior
Jake Kreider, outfielder, senior
Juniors Nic Raum, outfielder, junior, All-District Tournament team in 2019
Stephen Bell, outfielder/pitcher, junior
Lucas Kocian, outfielder, junior
Andrew Dudas, catcher, junior
Seniors Bobby Bevis, pitcher, senior
Logan Davis, pitcher, senior
Alex Sterling, pitcher, junior
Ben Schmisseur, pitcher, junior
Cade Cauthern, catcher, Roane State signee
Brooks McDonnough, pitcher, senior, St. Johns River State (Fla.) commit
Matthew Coggin, shortstop, three-year starter
Ben Caylor, pitcher/infielder, versatile player
Scott Collins, catcher/outfielder, junior, 2019 All-District 11-AAA selection
Aaron Walton, outfielder/pitcher, junior, Samford commit
Former Brentwood infielder/pitcher Cade Granzow underwent shoulder surgery in December and graduated early.
Garett Sims, LHP, senior, Austin Peay signee
Cam Lee, infielder, senior, Tennessee-Martin signee
Eston Snider, shortstop/third baseman, Middle Tennessee signee, senior led Page in on-base percentage (.434), doubles (8) and runs (19) in 2019, team leader can play any position on the field.
Tripp Hancock, catcher/first baseman/third baseman, senior will be a big bat in the middle of the lineup, strong defensively.
Kyle Gaffney, catcher/first baseman/third baseman, junior was a back-up catcher in 2019 before becoming starter last year, he showed some power to the gaps in three games last season.
Lorne Steele, shortstop/second baseman, good defensively, will bat in top portion of lineup.
Will Tobin, LHP/outfielder, senior, Pennsylvania signee, first team All-District 11-AAA in 2019, hit .336 withs 22 RBIs, 5-1 pitching record, 1.85 ERA in 2019
Cade Hollingsworth, first baseman/pitcher, senior, Dordt (Iowa) commit
Jacob Almon, RHP, senior, 2.83 ERA in 2019
Jack Baughman, infielder/catcher, senior
Creed McClellan, outfielder, senior
Alex Chen, infielder, senior
Derek Boylan, outfielder, senior OF
Halston Hargrove, first baseman, senior, Davidson Academy transfer will hit in middle of lineup.
Zach Lampley, outfielder/pitcher, senior, team leader, four-year starter
Hunter Davis, third baseman/pitcher, junior, two-year starter will be one of team’s top pitchers.
Morgan Jean, outfielder/pitcher, junior, all-district in 2019
Newcomers: Lane Howell, IF/P, Soph.; Brady Mangrum, C, Soph.; Brody Mann, IF/P, Soph.; Josh Lee, IF/P, Fr.; Thomas Lankford, IF/P, Soph.
Christ Presbyterian Academy
Jack Carlisle, RHP, senior, Covenant commit
James Dickson, RHP, senior, Trevecca signee, 1-0, 2.27 ERA in 12.1 innings in 2019
Ben Ivey, middle infielder, senior, batted .375 with 7 doubles, 2 home runs in 2019
Cade Reynolds, first baseman, senior, four-year starter, batted .348 with 14 doubles, 5 home runs in 2019
Zee Thompson, RHP, Transylvania signee, 1-0 in 3 innings in 2019
JJ Williams, center fielder, Lee signee, batted .318 with 14 doubles, 5 home runs in 2019
Cade Law, catcher, junior, highly recruited left-handed hitter; offers from SEC, ACC, Atlantic Sun and OVC
Langston Patterson, infielder/outfielder, junior, highly recruited linebacker (football offers from Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee and others); should get DI baseball looks as well
Bo Burklow, first baseman/third baseman, sophomore, Tennessee commit; also has major college offers in football
Battle Ground Academy
Ethan Harden, LHP/outfielder, senior, Belmont commit
Blake Rowe, middle infielder/RHP, senior, Southwest Tennessee Community College commit
AJ McLemore, outfielder, junior
Ryan Casimier, infielder, junior
Jake Fleser, catcher, junior
Kennith Lohmann, RHP/outfielder, freshman
Grace Christian Academy
Blake Barton, catcher, Belmont signee
Luke Gill, pitcher/outfielder, senior
Brock Arender, pitcher/outfielder, Walters State signee
Ryan Spychalski, pitcher, senior
Dickson County at CPA
Fairview at Harpeth
Lebanon at Summit
GCA at Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., Classic.
Lions coach Brad Myers has been taking his teams at GCA and BGA to this tournament since 2004. The Classic is run by Rich Hofman, who coached Alex Rodriguez in high school. Hofman is one of the nation’s winningest coaches. “He has been my mentor for years,” Myers said.
Page vs. Beech at Grand Slam Tournament at Siegel
Centennial vs. Smyrna at Grand Slam Tournament at Oakland
Ravenwood at Riverdale at Grand Slam Tournament