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JCHS baseball team only team from northeast Tennessee schools to attend summer training camp

For the first time in at least two decades the JCHS baseball team attended a summer training camp. Coach Nicholas Perkins traveled with 12 members of the Johnson County team all the way to Murfreesboro to take part in the Middle Tennessee State University High School Team Camp. Johnson County was the only Northeast Tennessee school among the nine other teams attending, including one school from Georgia and as well as a travel team made up of students from several schools.
For the better part of a week the Longhorns not only competed against these other teams but also attended instructional sessions taught by coaches from five colleges or universities in addition to the MTSU Blue Raider Coaching staff. Representing Presbyterian College, Columbia State Community College, Trevecca Nazarene University, and Eastern Kentucky University, these coaches covered a wide variety of themes such as team defense, team offense, base running, hitting, weight training, arm care, pitching, and catching.
Matched up against similar sized schools, the Longhorns also played in four complete games, pulling out only one victory but holding their own in two others. Their sole win came against McMinn High School, in a 4-2 game that saw some excellent pitching across the board. With only 86 pitches total Andy Woods dominated the first four innings before turning it over to Judd Hammons and Jon Vannoy to finish up a very efficient performance at the mound.
The Longhorns also took on Hendersonville, battling back from a 1-5 deficit, resulting from some sloppy defense at the beginning of the game, to come up just shy of the win at 4-5. Johnson County played a second close game against Fayetteville, falling victim to a suicide squeeze in the seventh inning to close out the game 1-2. Despite that loss, Judd Hammons pitched a complete game with only two hits.
The last match up was against the training camp travel team. Made up of some of the better players from across Middle Tennessee, the Longhorns had their hands full, unfortunately resulting in a run away 0-7 loss. Yet, even then Coach Perkins was excited about the opportunity to play against such a talented opponent. “The training camp travel team was a very talented, very athletic, very well coached, very aggressive team. They continued to put runners in motion and looked to take the extra base whenever possible. The training team also included 2012 graduates, and one of the training camp players have already signed to a collegiate team. Every team we played and every team at the camp was a very solid to very good baseball team. This was a tremendous experience and a lot of fun. All of us including myself learned a lot, including many things that we intend to incorporate into our own program.”
Between the games and the instruction sessions the Longhorns also got a glimpse at college life, staying in MTSU’s dorms, eating in their cafeteria, and playing on their fields. In fact, Johnson County played on three separate fields and got to meet with and learn from some of MTSU’s players as well as head coach Steve Peterson and Associate Head Coach Jim McGuire. With 27,000 students, MTSU is a NCAA Division I school with a well-respected baseball program.
The Longhorns faced a packed schedule the whole week, leaving early enough Monday morning to get in several hours that evening. Between the two-hour long instruction sessions, games, and travel times between the fields, the Longhorns were very busy Tuesday and Wednesday before returning home Thursday.
Impressed with the experience, Coach Perkins was hopeful that the camp could become a regular part of JCHS’s summer program. “It was a first class baseball camp. Everyone was warm and welcoming. Coach Peterson and McGuire were very nice guys and grade A baseball men. I was very pleased with the summer program overall, pleased with the numbers we had out, the schedule we put together and pleased with the interest that the players showed in summer baseball and in wanting to improve their individual skill sets. The team camp was a wonderful way to end. I feel several players including some of the players that were lower on our depth chart have really improved. There is an old saying that goes you are only as good as your weakest link, and if that’s the truth we are really improving,” said Perkins.
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