Central High School has a new house for its diamond programs.
The baseball Purple Pounders, who've struggled with little more than a dugout where they could hang a hat, are no longer changing into their uniforms at home or in their cars.
It's a two-sport facility with baseball housed on the first floor with an entrance to the dugout and softball on the second floor. Both have locker rooms with a bathroom and heating and air-conditioning. The girls' area also has a press box upstairs and a concession stand downstairs.
"We have room for 30 individual lockers," said baseball coach Glen Carter, who has worked long and hard to refurbish the facility.
Hamilton County Schools provided the blueprints and some of the labor, and volunteers representing both programs did the rest.
"We even had some future program parents involved," Carter said. "We had a tremendous amount of volunteer labor and material donated from within the community."
District titles on line
Over the next two weeks all district championships will be decided in two-game series. Key games next week -- Monday and Tuesday -- include Ooltewah vs. Bradley Central (5-AAA), Signal Mountain vs. Chattanooga Christian (7-AA) and Central vs. Red Bank (6-AA).
On April 22-23, pivotal games are CCS vs. Notre Dame (7-AA), East Hamilton vs. Central (6-AA), South Pittsburg vs. Whitwell (6-A) and Boyd-Buchanan vs. Silverdale Baptist (5-A). The second Boyd-Silverdale game will be April 25 rather than April 23.
Allen doing well
Jared Allen, the Polk County player who signed with Tennessee and now is at Walters State, has committed to Middle Tennessee State. Apparent disagreement with the current Vols' batting strategies -- bunting and hitting behind the runner -- were the reasons his brother, Polk assistant Matt Allen, gave for the transfer.
Allen, though, may never get to MTSU. A major league franchise may draft him in June. The outfielder is currently hitting .391 with a .515 on-base percentage and a slugging percentage of .714. He is ranked seventh nationally with seven home runs.
Former Baylor School and Georgia Tech standout Wes Hodges, most recently with the San Francisco Giants organization, decided to retire. He's now selling medical equipment in Atlanta.
A second-round pick by Cleveland in the 2013 major league draft, the infielder spent seven seasons in the minors including three in Columbus, Ohio, with the Indians' Class AAA team.
Burke in extended spring
Former Ooltewah pitcher and outfielder Kyler Burke is in extended spring training at the Chicago Cubs facility in Mesa, Ariz. The former first-round draft pick has begun his third season as a pitcher after being picked by San Diego as an outfielder.
The start to his 2013 season has been delayed because he suffered a strained oblique (muscle) at the beginning of workouts. He is rehabbing and said via text message that he should be ready to go by May 1.
Back for McCallie?
Baylor center fielder Taylor Maxey is hoping to be back for the three-game McCallie series next week, but for now the junior is sidelined with mononucleosis.
When he was sidelined, Maxey was hitting .513 with nine stolen bases and nine RBIs. He also had a 2-0 pitching record.
The Red Raiders' set against McCallie begins on April 17 at Baylor. McCallie will host on the 18th and the teams then return to Baylor.
Weather permitting, East Hamilton's Hurricane Classic starts today with games scheduled at East Brainerd Youth Association and Grace Academy. Games Friday and Saturday will be played at Silverdale and Grace.
Contact Ward Gossett at email@example.com or 423-886-4765.
Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...