May 28th , 2012 10:36 am Leave a comment

Cyclones’ Miller gains nod as player of year

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Carter and Johnson County baseball in 2012 was a lot like the new Wild Eagle roller coaster at Dollywood — ups and downs with a whole lot of curves.

Photo by Danny Davis - Outstanding behind the plate, Cyclone catcher Thomas Miller also hit .446 with a team-high 29 RBIs.

The same can be said about the 17 players that comprise the All Carter/Johnson County team. It was a year where hardly anything was clear cut.

The last time an all-county team was named was in 2008, where sophomores Jake Davis of Elizabethton and Drew Chambers of Unaka shared player of the year honors after both put up some massive numbers. After a three-year absence, the team is back by popular demand at the request of our readers.

Sharing honors will once again highlights this year’s team in a couple of categories .

One of those was coach of the year, where Elizabethton’s J.P. Nix and Johnson County’s Pete Pavusek gets the nod.

Nix help guide the Cyclones to a 23-10 mark and their first outright conference championship since 1979.

The Longhorns went to the sub-state for the first time under Pavusek’s tillage and finished the year with a 17-13 mark.

In regards to player of the year, Elizabethton’s junior signal caller, Thomas Miller, edged out teammate Wes Montgomery and Johnson County ace Ryan Mahala.

Miller finished the year hitting .446 with teamhigh 29 RBIs and 10 doubles. His on-base percentage was .500, plus he’s regarded as one of the best defensive catchers in Northeast Tennessee with a strong throwing arm.

Happy Valley’s lone representative was freshman shortstop Justin Maupin, who was unanimously tabbed as the most promising underclassman. He ended the year hitting .319 with seven doubles and 23 RBIs from his leadoff spot.

Johnson County placed four players on the team, led by Mahala. The hard-throwing righty was 9-2 on the season with a 1.96 ERA. He struck out 72 batters in 68 innings and was 8-2 in conference game pitched.

Joining him as the team’s other starting pitcher is Elizabethton’s McKenly Berry. The Tusculum signee had an impressive 2.15 ERA and finished the season at 5-3. In 52 innings pitched, he fanned 62 batters and walked only 21.

Senior teammate Cory Richardson is penciled in as the team’s closer. He had a team best 7-2 mark with a 2.77 ERA as ’Betsy’s top reliever. In 31 innings, he whiffed 23 batters and demonstrated pinpoint control.

Three more Longhorns were selected to the starting infield.

Daniel Helm is at first after hitting .424 with a .500 on base percentage. He scored 22 runs and stole 11 bases.

Judd Hammons racked up every vote at the shortstop spot. He ended the year at .420 with 23 RBIs and 25 runs, also providing nine doubles.

Unaka’s Danny Bales wins a spot at the keystone corner after batting .417 with three homers and 24 RBIs.

Another Ranger, Josh Rasnick, will join Harley Reece as the All-Carter/Johnson third basemen after the two tied in the voting. Both players have the stats that prove their worthy of the honor. Rasnick hit .375, with three home runs and 25 RBIs. He was 5-6 on the mound with 55 Ks.

As for Reece, he hit .345 with four home runs and 25 RBI’s. He compiled a 3-1 mark as a pitcher with a 2.86 ERA in six starts and 12 appearances.

Miller’s catching spot rounds out the infield.

The outfield had a few surprises as well.

Elizabethton’s Quincy Jackson and Wes Montgomery were named on every ballot to start in left and center field, respectively. Jackson hit a sizzling team-high .467 after starting the season as a reserve. Montgomery batted .342 with nine doubles, 15 RBIs and 17 stolen bases. He was 2-1 on the mound with 54 strikeouts in 44 innings pitched.

A three-way tie highlighted the final slot for right field. Unaka’s Isaac Ray and Billy Bales share the final slot with Hampton’s Mark Ailport.

Ray hit .310, and was a vacuum in left field when not on the mound. As a pitcher, he was 5-5 (3.41 ERA) with 61 Ks against just 27 walks.

Bales batted .320 with 15 RBIs as Unaka’s leadoff batter Ailport ended the season hitting .365 for Hampton; he also provided 18 RBIs.

Taylor Edwards, who recently signed with Milligan, earns a spot as the team’s designated hitter. Edwards batted .409 with one home run and 21 RBIs.

Rounding out the team as a utility player is Elizabethton’s Austin Smith. He fit the bill well for this slot after striking out 45 batters and walked only eight in 52 innings of work. Smith batted .326 in 52 plate appearances.

The honorable mention list included: Chris Lanthorn and Anthony Ward, Elizabethton; David Finney, Hampton; Eli Rasnick, Unaka; Dusty Stout, Johnson County; Daniel Arnett, Cloudland; and Justin Norris, Justin Reagan and Zack Miller of Happy Valley.

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