published Thursday, March 28th, 2013

Red Bank's Hagen Wilkey has options

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    Red Bank High School pitcher Hagen Wilkey.
    Photo by Connor Choate.
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Hagen Wilkey may have options.

Red Bank's quarterback had offers from Carson-Newman and Birmingham-Southern but his offense, pitching and outfield play may soon attract college baseball recruiters.

"I had always spent more time on football," the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder said.

He has, however, been honing in on baseball and already has six home runs and 21 RBIs and nine of his 13 hits have gone for extra bases. And while he also pitches, Wilkey already has gunned down five runners at the plate.

"If I don't get any baseball offers, I'll probably go to [the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga] as a preferred walk-on," he said.

The good old days

Looking over his snow-covered field earlier this week brought back memories of the good old days for Signal Mountain coach Bumper Reese.

As he looked over the situation and shivered in the 30-degree temperatures, Reese recalled a miserable day in Hixson's season-opening Wildcat Classic.

"It was back in the mid-nineties when I was an assistant at Red Bank. We played in sleet and snow," he recalled. "It was before the mule-mix (field dry) days but John Plumlee had a contact and would put down wood shavings to dry the field."

A 'white-out'

While most coaches opted out of playing Monday and Tuesday, Polk County's Michael Carter found himself traveling up the highway to play Sweetwater in a game that had been postponed due to weather the first week of the season.

"It was borderline white-out conditions," he said after a five-inning win over the Wildcats. "When we got there the snow was blowing sideways and it was 25 degrees. I could see OK, though, when the snow wasn't pelting me in the face."

There was little in the way of cold-weather gear but Carter said one of the parents did set up a heater in the dugout.

Echoing the thoughts of Carter and most spring sports coaches, Cleveland's Ted Carson said, "Between rain, the cold and the snow, this is the most brutal spring I've seen in a long time. We haven't had too many decent days."

'Know your role'

Dwayne Johnson, better known as "the Rock" in pro wrestling circles, is having an influence on Soddy-Daisy.

Many of the players wear T-shirts under their uniforms that portray Johnson's brahma bull logo with one of his sayings -- "Know your role and shut your mouth."

It is a way that coach Jared Hensley has enforced his team-first philosophy.

A couple of years ago he had a shirt that said "Pack your own parachute."

"It's a matter of each guy doing his part and not worrying about others," Hensley said. "We're not going to talk about what we're going to do. We're not talking about making it out of the district or playing in the region or the substate. It's about embracing each day and trying to get better."

The senior-less Trojans have struggled early, winning but two of their first 10 games through Tuesday night.

Tournament weekend

Two tournaments are going on this weekend, Central's Invitational at Central and Hixson and Lookout Valley's annual Yellow Jacket Classic.

Both tournaments will have championships Saturday, Lookout Valley at 3:30 and Central at 7:30, to avoid playing on Easter Sunday.

Local teams joining Lookout Valley are Boyd-Buchanan and South Pittsburg. The Central field includes Cleveland, Hixson and Polk County.

East Hamilton and Ooltewah are playing in Riverdale's annual tournament in Murfreesboro.

Red Bank-Hixson next Wednesday

Red Bank and Hixson were scheduled to play earlier this week and finally got in Game 1 of their two-game series last night.

The second game has been postponed until next week due to the weather and a sprinkler leak at Hixson. The Lions, who'll be coming off a Monday-Tuesday series against East Hamilton, will play at Hixson at 7 p.m. next week. Red Bank, Central and East Hamilton were preseason favorites to win District 6-AA.

about Ward Gossett...

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 ...

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