Hammons named in Super 22
By Jonathan PleasantThe JCHS baseball team has had many great players over the years but few have been quite as decorated as Judd Hammons. Having earned two back-to-back All Conference spots, Hammons went on to claim numerous distinctions from several regional organizations including a 2012 and 2013 spot on Johnson City Press’s Super 22 Team. A pick of the best players from across Upper East Tennessee, the honor of being selected was one that only a handful of Johnson County players have ever had, and even more rarely two seasons in a row.
Yet, as one of the best short stops in Longhorn history coupled with a solid batting average and a pure love of the game, it’s no wonder that Hammons has gotten this far, going on to sign with Alice Lloyd College to play in the fall. What is shocking is that Hammons pulled off many of these accomplishments while battling more than one serious injuries, including a lengthy rehabilitation after shoulder surgery.
“I completely pulled my labrum and shredded my bicep,” Hammons said. “When I had my surgery the doctors told me I wouldn’t play this year. I just tried hard to come back and I was really surprised I got all-conference considering we didn’t do that well this year. The doctor said I would be able to hit but I wouldn’t be able to field. When I went back a month or two later he said my shoulder was healing faster than he thought it would. He kept me hitting but no fielding but I tried throwing side arm and I could. When I went back to him again he told me my shoulder was fine and he didn’t understand how it could heal so fast, so I guess I was lucky. He gave me physical therapy three days a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I stretched it after my surgery and strengthened it. I ended up further ahead in my physical therapy than he though I would be and when they did measurements, I could stretch better than I could before the surgery.”
By the end of his senior season, Hammons was back on the field and once again playing a major role for his team, landing numerous multi-base hits and even helping on the defense. Yet, the 2013 season could not compare with 2012 when, as a junior Hammons helped his team go on to make school history by landing the game winning hit against Unicoi county that earned the Longhorns a shot in the regional championship. Yet, Hammons has kept a humble attitude even with all the hype, attributing his success more to having an excellent group of coaches than to anything else.
“I didn’t think I would get super 22 this year just because we didn’t do that well.” Hammons said. “When I saw it in the paper that day I was very shocked. I don’t guess it has really hit me yet. I was really fortunate to have a great coach like Perkins. If it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t be half the player I am. Gary Evans helped make me a great fielder along with Perkins. I was very fortunate to have those coaches around. My freshman year I played second base, but my biggest improvement was between my sophomore and junior years, during the summer when we played summer ball. I could field really well and I could hit really well. Coach Perkins just encouraged me to keep working and I did. I worked on my hitting every single day and my fielding every single day.”
Coach Nicholas Perkins seemed equally proud of his time working with Judd, noting that he saw potential in him from the very first time he saw Hammons play. “I knew he was a good young athlete when I saw him play Little League,” Perkins said. “He just really loves to play the game and I’m excited he is going to get to play and practice for the next four years. He is very tough and he plays as hard as anyone I’ve ever coached. When he joined our high school program in the spring of 2010, I could tell quickly that this was a good athlete with the potential to be a really good baseball player. Even as a sophomore he was our starting varsity short stop and had an on base percentage of over .400. He’s just a good player. When you combine agility, speed, a strong throwing arm, hand eye coordination, and the ability to have a pretty good batting average, it categorizes Judd Hammons as a baseball player.”
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