By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
The Three Rivers Conference is one of the top leagues in the state and that definitely held true for baseball. Elizabethton advanced to the final four of the state tournament and defeated Greeneville in the regional championship game who won the state championship.
Johnson County finished near the bottom but was able to pull off a few significant victories.
The Cyclones amassed 28 wins the best finish since 1958 when they lost to Memphis Christian Brothers in the state championship game 4-3 led by former major leaguer and announcer Tim McCarver.
Their dominance that included the District and Regional championships allow them to stockpile our 2018 Tomahawk’s Dandy Dozen All Johnson/Carter County baseball squad plus one.
Trying to select a player of the year was a tossup between teammates Cory Russell and Evan Carter. Both players were tabbed as co-players of the year after putting up impressive numbers against the area’s best competition.
Russell hit for a .390 average that including a team high 50 RBI’s with 10 coming in the postseason. He also scored 43 runs and was 2-1 on the mound. He already drawing rave reviews as one of East Tennessee’s best shortstops.
Carter batted .377 collecting 44 hits while driving in 46 runs and scoring 33. He amassed 12 doubles and was one of the league’s top pitchers. He has already committed to Duke University to play baseball.
Our top pitcher award goes to Elizabethton’s ace Tre Shoun. It would be hard-pressed to find someone who was more dominating against some of the area’s best teams, especially in postseason play. He finished the year going 10-2, which included a 12-0 win over Grundy County during the state tournament combining with two other pitchers for a no-hitter. He hurled 67 innings in 15 starts with an overall 1.35 ERA. He had a 1.05 ERA in his five starts during the postseason.
Joining the trio of Cyclones on the team is slick fielding second baseman Ethan Eagleston, Evan Perkins and outfielder Ryan Wetzel.
Eggleston was the team’s top defensive player and hit .367 on the season. Perkins batted .409 with 47 hits and 11 doubles and was the league’s top catcher. Wetzel also hit .409 and covered lots of territory from his centerfield position.
Unaka didn’t dominate the Watauga Valley Conference like they had in past years, but they did have a couple of the area’s better players.
John Ramsey earns a spot on the team after going 9-3 on the mound that included three no-hitters. He hit .411 that including 10 doubles and had an ERA of 1.00 with 115 strikeouts in 62 2/3 innings. Blake King who was productive as one of the league’s best hitters and all-around players joins him on the squad. King hit .390 with nine doubles, 2 triples, 3 homers and 40 RBI’s. He was also 5-3 on the mound with two saves.
Hampton’s Dru Owens was named on every ballot along with their lefty ace Dalton Rouse.
Owens hit .400 with 10 doubles and 27 runs scored. He was also 38-for-39 in stolen base attempts. Rouse was 5-3 with three complete games and one shutout. He ended the year with 87 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings with a 2.58 ERA.
Happy Valley’s Nolan Easlic will represent the Warriors along with outfielder Will Hampton. Easlic hit .380 and was 5-4 on the mound. Hampton batted .350 and was a deer on defense with a vacuum glove.
Cloudland’s shortstop Dillon Johnson had a big season for the Highlanders are their lone representative. He, Hampton and Rouse tied for the final slot with all three being selected making it a baker’s dozen.
Johnson County’s Shane Greer and Josh Tierney are the lone two Longhorns that round out the squad.
Greer hit a sizzling .419 and led the team in base hits and RBI’s Tierney batted a hefty .362 and was second in total base hits.
Our most promising newcomer award goes to Hampton’s freshman first baseman Josh Owens. He hit .254 as an everyday starter but had a .450 on-base percentage. He led the team with 21 walks.
Elizabethton’s Ryan Presnell was the unanimous choice for coach of the year honors.
Bud Icenhour, Jayden Joiner, and Petie Pavusek logged spots on the honorable mention squad for the Longhorns.
Tomahawk’s Dandy Dozen All Johnson/Carter Baseball Team
Co-players of the year:
Cory Russell, Evan Carter, Elizabethton
Pitcher of the year:
Tre Shoun, Elizabethton
Newcomer of the year:
Josh Owens, Hampton
Coach of the Year:
Ryan Presnell, Elizabethton
Best of the Rest
Ethan Eagleston, Ryan Wetzel, Evan Perkins
John Ramsey, Blake King
Dru Owens, Dalton Rouse
Shane Greer, Josh Tierney
Elizabethton: Logan Estep, Matthew Dailey
Happy Valley: Eli Fleenor, Hayden Holtsclaw
Unaka: Daniel Ensor, Bryson Street
Hampton: Gavin Hardin. Caleb Oaks
Cloudland: Colin Morgan