By Tim Chambers
Cloudland will try and bolster its high school program by playing a junior high baseball schedule this spring.
Former high school football and baseball head coach Robby Turbyfill heads the squad and is starting things from scratch. He’s hoping to provide the high school with some meat and potato players — much like adding soup beans and fried taters to your ordinary hot corn bread.
“We’ve been out here a couple of weeks and I can already see a difference,” said Turbyfill. “We’re hitting the ball well, producing runs and learning fundamentals. That’s what I was hoping to do.”
The team will be made up of 20 players and some of them have previous experience on the diamond.
Austin Whitehead and T.J. Davis are two eighth-graders that they’ll count on in addition to Chandler Starnes.
Whitehead has been a catalyst on the football and basketball teams that dominated play this season. Both teams won championships — the football team went undefeated while the basketball team lost only one game. Davis played for the Elizabethton Aces 12-year old All-Star team.
Starnes showed a lot of promise in the Elizabethton Cal Ripken League by hitting .455. James Arwood, Brinkley Mull, Preston Benfield, Cameron Stevens, Dakota Ashley, Noah Arnett and Joseph Trivett are also kids that Turbyfill can become good players.
“They can all help us and everyone of them have good attitudes,” Turbyfill said. “These kids all want to get better.”
The pitching staff will consist of Whitehead, Mull, Starnes, Stevens and Arwood according to Turbyfill. Davis, a southpaw, has lot of velocity — but they’re working hard with him on his control.
Thus far, the head coach singled out Whitehead and Davis as his top hitters.
The team will be made up of a duke’s mixture.
“We’ve got about half and half seventh- and eighth-graders,” added Turbyfill. “They all come to practice and try hard. I think they’re enjoy it now that they see they can be competitive. These kids go at everything hard.”
Arwood will catch most of the time while Whitehead and Mull will combine to play short and second. Benfield will step in their spot when either is on the mound. Starnes can play anywhere in the infield. Davis will get the call at first base.
“The years that I coached high school we didn’t have a feeder team,” Turbyfill said. “It’s hard when they get to that level to teach kids that’s never played. We’re hoping this helps the high school, but most of all I’m hoping they enjoy the game.
They junior high will play a 24-game schedule. Included are games with Vance, T.A. Dugger, Bowman, North Carolina, Sullivan Middle and Mosheim.
“We’re hoping by playing good teams the kids will get better,” said Turbyfill. “I thinks we’ll be all right. They just need to gain some experience and we’ll do that by playing several games.”