His grades might have caught Yale's eye but his baseball prowess is what got Jackson McClain accepted.
Ask the guys from Soddy-Daisy, who were handcuffed for the first three innings before touching the Ooltewah pitcher for singles in the fourth and fifth innings.
Ooltewah moved to 2-0 overall and in District 5-AAA, its bats matching The 6-foot-4, 235-pound McClain's precision pitching in a 15-0 walk over the Trojans.
"Jackson threw the ball well, and we got a couple of runs early," Ooltewah coach Brian Hitchcox said after the season-opening sweep of the Owls' longtime district rivals.
McClain, who struck out nine in the five-inning game, set the pace early by striking out the side in the first.
"There are usually a number of momentum swings within a game and that was one," Hitchcock said.
It didn't matter that the temperature had plunged to the low 40s at game time or that a howling wind made it feel that much colder, Soddy-Daisy coach Jared Hensley sensed a bad omen that had nothing to do with the weather.
"After seeing [Zach] Thompson on Monday night, I had a feeling we were in trouble tonight, and they've got more [pitching] beyond these two guys," he said.
Thompson was the winner in a 9-0 Ooltewah win over the Trojans on Tuesday.
Soddy-Daisy looked its part, trying to forestall a rollover by a young team laden with freshmen.
"We're not going to use that as an excuse. We play baseball, and we have to focus and have a better approach," Hensley said. "And I certainly don't want to take anything away from McClain. He had a great performance."
After McClain's first-inning beatdown, Ooltewah batters immediately turned up the pressure on Soddy-Daisy while giving their pitcher some breathing room. They scored three runs with five of the first six batters reaching base and four of those coming up with base hits. The big blow came from Kevin Dupree, a two-run single to right.
If they didn't put the game out of reach with four more runs in the second -- three on Chase Morrissey's three-run homer to right -- the Owls certainly did in the third when they added an error-aided seven more.
Key hits were Morrissey's two-run single and Logan Burnette's two-run double.
"We had a good approach at the plate and we took advantage of a couple of miscues," Hitchcox said. "[Soddy-Daisy] just had one of those nights. I know. I've been there, and it's just not a lot of fun. But they're young and they have a lot of guys learning on the job. They'll be right there in May [for the postseason]."
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 ...