Sumner County baseball primer – The Tennessean
Fifteen high school baseball players to watch in Sumner County this season:
Ben Brooks, Pope John Paul II, Sr., shortstop: Memphis signee is reigning All-Sumner County Player of the Year, hit .386 with .493 on-base percentage, 34 runs, 12 stolen bases.
Brett Coker, Hendersonville, Jr., infielder/outfielder: All-District 9-AAA in 2016, hit .302 with seven stolen bases.
Hunter Crowson, Westmoreland, Sr., first base/outfield: .329 batting average, 15 stolen bases.
Andy Denning, Gallatin, Sr., first base: All District 9-AAA and All Region 5-AAA in 2015 and 2016, hit .646 in 10 postseason games in 2016.
Dalton Hall, Beech, Sr., pitcher: 6-1 record in 2016 with 2.85 earned-run average, 52 strikeouts.
Cameron Hansen, Hendersonville, Soph., pitcher: 4-1 record with 0.72 earned-run average as freshman in 2016.
Brady Harris, Gallatin, Soph., pitcher/infield: started 32 games as a freshman, voted to Tennessee Baseball All-Freshman Team.
Mason Hickman, Pope John Paul II, Sr., pitcher: Vanderbilt signee finished 5-3 with 1.82 earned-run average and 80 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings.
Ian McWilliams, Beech, Sr., pitcher: 4-2 record in 2016 with 2.13 earned-run average, 57 strikeouts, nine walks in 46 innings pitched.
Ryan Mortensen, Beech, Sr., catcher: hit .389 with .496 on-base percentage and 24 runs batted in.
Hayden Mullins, Hendersonville, Soph., pitcher/first base: 2-1 with 3.50 earned-run average as freshman, has offer from Auburn.
Dylan Pottorff, Station Camp, Sr., catcher: All-Sumner County first-team catcher in 2016.
Bailey Russell, Gallatin, Sr., catcher: team leader in home runs and runs batted in last season, hit .328 and has started at catcher since freshman year.
Brandon Tucker, Portland, Soph., shortstop/pitcher: 26 strikeouts in 23 innings pitched last season.
Thomas Zazzaro, Station Camp, Sr., pitcher: Lee University signee, All-County first-team all-purpose player last season.
Storylines to watch
Fierce competition in District 9-AAA
District 9-AAA figures to be wide open, with several teams in contention following Gallatin’s upstart run to the Class AAA sectionals last season.
Hendersonville’s pitching staff features several young power arms, while a veteran-laden Beech team figures to be in the mix as well. Station Camp has experience on the mound and behind the plate. The usual suspects also reside in Wilson County with Wilson Central and Mt. Juliet, while a rising Lebanon squad also has an opportunity to factor into the championship picture.
New coach, same goal at Pope John Paul II
With eight seniors and nine juniors – most of whom should factor heavily into the lineup and rotation – Pope John Paul II has its eyes on a deeper state tournament run. The Knights made three state appearances in the last four years under Michael Brown with no victories. Brown stepped down after last season, with new head coach Chris Parker taking over. Parker is no stranger to the program, however – he’s coached Team Tennessee with pitcher Mason Hickman and shortstop Ben Brooks during the past two summers.
White House’s youth movement
The Blue Devils lost eight seniors last season, leaving White House with a very young team in District 9-AA after a 15-12 record in 2016. An all-new defense will take the field up the middle, as the Blue Devils will have newcomers at catcher, shortstop, second base and center field.