By Scoop Christian
Commitment, dedication, and loyalty are three characteristics that one must have to be a successful coach and Johnson County’s Pete Pavusek has all the above. The dean of area baseball coaches will begin his 24th season as the Longhorns’ skipper having won 323 games, the most among current head coaches in Northeast, Tennessee.
Pavusek has accomplished his milestone in a league stacked with good teams from top to bottom and this year will be no different. Unicoi County and Elizabethton are expected to be at the top, and Sullivan South and Sullivan East are not far behind.
The weather elements haven’t been kind to the Longhorns either. Pavusek touched on the difficulties of trying to get some quality time in outside the gymnasium and battle tunnel.
“It’s been terrible this year,” said Pavusek. “It’s either cold, raining and now they’re calling for snow tonight. We’re trying to squeeze a few practices in, but it’s a never-ending battle with Mother Nature. It’s just something that we always have to deal with.”
Key returning players
The battery of Milligan College signee, Jayden Joiner and catcher Petie Pavusek, a three-year starter behind the plate will be the key cogs to try and help the Longhorns pull off some big wins over their league foes.
The Horns will also rely on junior Ben Howard and sophomore Stacy Greer to shore up the pitching staff.
“Ben and Petie have played together since Little League, so they have good chemistry for one another. Greer throws hard and has looked good as well. We have a chance anytime Jayden is on the mound.”
Pavusek hopes to get Reese Stout back in the lineup who has been nursing some knee issues.
“His gives us some power in the lineup and can hit the gaps. He’ll likely see some time at third and DH when he recovers.”
Greer will anchor center field when not on the mound. Howard and Joiner will alternate at shortstop when not pitching.
Some newcomers who have caught Pavusek’s eye are freshmen Asa Lewis, Ethan Icenhour, and senior Eric Neely. He also said that senior Weston Throop and junior Bradley Livorsi would see plenty of time in the lineup. Ty Warren is another player that the head coach is high on because of his versatility. Sophomore Jordan Bouchelle and freshman Seth Condor are two more players that have performed well and are improving each day.”
It’s tough to throw a few freshmen in there, but Lewis and Icenhour will have to step up their game and both are very capable. Neely played football along with Throop, and both of them are really good athletes. Warren is another kid who can help us too. We’ll count on Livorsi to give us some innings on the mound when he’s not playing third base. Mason Bragg is only a sophomore but will get the majority of playing time at second base.”
JCHS Baseball Schedule 2019
12 FCA 4:30 JV after
14 HAMPTON 4:30 JV after
18 Sullivan Central 6:30
19 at Sullivan Central 5:00 JV after
21 at Unaka 6:00
26 Sullivan East 5:00 JV after
27 at Sullivan East 5:00 JV after
29 at Patrick Henry, Va. 4:30
1 Elizabethton 5:00 JV after
2 at Elizabethton 5:00 JV after
4 at DB Tourney TBA
5 at DB Tourney TBA
6 at DB Tourney TBA
8 at Happy Valley 5:00 JV after
9 HAPPY VALLEY 5:00 JV after
11 PATRICK HENRY, Va. 4:30
12 at FCA 4:30 JV after
15 at Sullivan South 5:00
16 SULLIVAN SOUTH 5:00
18 at Tennessee High 5:00 JV after
19 UNAKA 6:00
22 UNICOI 5:00
23 at Unicoi 5:00
25 at Hampton 4:30 JV after
Several lineup looks
Lewis will see plenty of time at first base as could Warren. Bragg will hold down the second base with Howard and Joiner flip-flopping between the mound and shortstop. Livorsi will play third base along with Stout who could DH or also see some time at first.
The outfield will have Greer in center, Icenhour in left and Throop in right. Neely will see time there too depending on the pitching rotation.
Lewis, Livorsi, Neely, Warren, and Throop could all log some innings on the mound, but Joiner, Howard, and Greer will be the staff’s aces.
Pavusek feels like the hitting and pitching is ahead of the defense at this point.
“We’ve not had a lot of reps on the field so the defense will improve as the players get time at their positions. I think our team could be pretty solid, but the league competition might be hard to overcome.
Pavusek tabbed Unicoi County and Elizabethton as the frontrunners with Sullivan South and Sullivan East right there in the mix.
“It’s the same almost every year. Unicoi and Elizabethton are always at the top and South will have a very good team. You can’t count out East and Sullivan Central is always a solid team.”
The Longhorns will open up with FCA on Tuesday and Hampton on March 14 at home before their first conference games with Sullivan Central on March 18 and 19. All league games will be played back-to-back on Mondays and Tuesdays.
“Our goal is to get better each day as the season goes along,” said Pavusek. “A lot of our key players are underclassmen, which is good, but I have seen the league being a little stronger this year because some of the better teams have a lot of players returning.”