Vol State baseball player commits to Tennessee Tech

 

By Nick Kieser

Jacob Cole, pitcher for the Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team, committed to furthering his athletic and academic career at Tennessee Tech April 6.

“I’ve had many family members that went to Tennessee Tech. They love it, and I didn’t need to visit their campus to know that’s where I want to be,” said Cole.

“A lot of guys sign late to four year schools. Tennessee Tech is where he’s always wanted to go even back in high school. It’s like his dream school,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

This season Cole has pitched a total of 51 innings and has 51 strikeouts as of April 6. His fit into the Tennessee Tech pitching rotation next season perhaps as a starting pitcher is evident.

“I think a strikeout per inning is definitely doing something right,” said Cole.

“If you look at the rankings, they are right there with Vanderbilt, which is pretty prestigious. I have a strong work ethic and a desire to win, in my opinion. I don’t think you find a player who wants to compete more than I do. I hope that Tech is ready,” said Cole.

Cole has been part of a revamp of the Pioneer baseball program, and this team will look to build off his success when he packs his bags to head to Cookeville, Tennessee.

“Jacob has been a big factor in establishing where our program is now and where it’s going to go,” said Hunt.

“He’s been a part of a team that wants to win 30 games this season. He’s an incredibly talented student athlete,” said Jason Barrett, assistant coach.

“He’s really one of the hardest working kids on the team, and he puts in everything he needs to do to get ready for the weekend. I think that he’s going to be an impact player for Tennessee Tech right off the bat,” said Cameron Grogan, Cole’s teammate.

According to Barrett, Cole, is developing a pitch called a cutter to add to his resume.

“It’s a pretty good pitch. He developed pretty quickly. Jacob is going to be successful no matter what he chooses to do. He’s just that type of guy,” said Hunt.

Cole and the Pioneers have 14 games left to play in the regular season.

“I think when you’re not nervous, you can play at your best ability. It’s not about playing the best. It’s about picking up your teammates when they’re down. It’s about being a good guy and teammate. I want to continue to do that,” said Cole.

“He’s a tremendous worker, tremendous young man. He’s everything you want in a player on and off the field,” said Hunt.

“I want to be the guy that was known to work hard in everything he did. Each day I was trying to be a positive influence. It’s been a heck of two years. I’ve really enjoyed it,” said Cole.

Watch Pioneers baseball on Twitter @VSCCPioneersBSB.

 

Home Plate event supports baseball and softball teams

 

By Presley Green

Volunteer State Community College’s annual Vol State Home Plate will be held Saturday, April 14, at noon, at the baseball and softball fields.

The Office of Student Engagement & Support will be hosting the event to celebrate the baseball and softball teams. There will be food, and everyone is invited.

“We celebrate the basketball teams in the fall semester with Homecoming, so the Vol State Home Plate is the spring edition of Homecoming to celebrate our baseball and softball teams,” according to an email from Tabitha Sherrell. “We will have the cafeteria catering free burgers, hotdogs, and chips at the concession stands and then we will have free giveaways.”

Both the softball and baseball teams play at home twice against Motlow State Community College that day. The baseball games are at noon and 2:30 p.m. The softball games are at noon and 2:00 p.m.

Pioneers hope to finish strong in last half of season

 

Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 8.51.59 PMBy Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has played 22 games and is halfway through the season, as of Sunday, March 18.

The Pioneers split a series to visiting non-conference team the Joliet Junior College Wolves, March 13.

The first game against Joliet had a score of 8-5, and Bill Hamilton, first baseman, hit a grand slam in the seventh inning to score the last four runs in. Hamilton now has two home runs on the season.

Lawson Factor, pitcher, made his starting debut in this first game at home against Joliet.

“No pun intended, but Lawson can be a factor for us when we need him,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

Lawson finished the game with four innings pitched and had three strikeouts.

“We were able to scrap together a win in game one with some heroics. A six-run inning in the seventh doesn’t happen often,” said Jason Barrett, assistant coach, about the late first game rally against Joliet.

The Pioneers’ momentum from that play did not transition into the next game.

“The hitting and pitching was not fully there. This was the first time this season that a team has worked harder than us,” said Hunt.

Hunt continued speaking about being the loss to Joliet, 7-2.

“The split is fine, but the effort and drive wasn’t there. We did not deserve to win the first game but we did.”

The Pioneers will go on to a conference game against Walters State.

Individually, one player has stuck out to Barrett, Brent Richey, sophomore outfielder.

“Good to see Brent Richey kind of snap out of an early season swoon,” said Barrett.

“I don’t think our guys will have any trouble getting up for the game with the ranking they have. I am sure we’ll be ready to play focused,” said Barrett, referring to the game versus Walters State. “Early wins and loses don’t matter much. It’s all about how we develop over the season.”Screen Shot 2018-03-16 at 8.51.53 PM

Hunt is clear on what he expects of his team when they go head-to-head with Walters State.

“Be ready to play as hard as you can. Don’t worry about the scoreboard,” said Hunt.  

The Pioneers are playing well at home with a record of 9-2 so far going into the conference games versus Walters State.

Hunt commented on facing Walters State, the top-ranked team in TCCAA standings.

“If we play afraid, we’ll get whats headed to us,” he said.

Cumberland JV is the next team the Pioneers will play after Walters State on Wednesday, March 21, at 3 p.m. The home games will be live streamed on @VSCCPioneersBSB, the team’s Twitter page.

Photos by Emanuel DeJesus

Pioneers baseball team continues win streak

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has won 11 games in a row, as of March 4. Most recently, the Pioneers swept a three-game series against Columbia State, March 3-4.

Collin Hopkins, catcher, commented on the streak that the Pioneers are on.

“It is preparation for conference play. We need momentum for the games that truly matter. We have that fluff,” said Hopkins.

With the 11-game win streak, the Pioneers are second in the TCCAA with a record of 11-3, behind Walters State with a record of 19-3.

“If we win the conference series we are going to be in a better position for the playoffs. A good playoff spot will help us out in the postseason,” said Raul Mercado, an outfielder and native of the Dominican Republic.

Applying Mercado’s comment, Hopkins seconded what his teammate said on how the conference games matter more than they appear.

“For a sweep, it would be better to get a conference sweep,” said Hopkins.

Despite sweeping a team that is out of state, Hopkins is seeking to win conference games and more importantly maybe sweep some in-conference teams this season.

Jason Barrett, assistant coach, spoke on the win streak and conference games that are beginning.

“It certainly gives us more confidence after starting 0-3. It doesn’t mean a whole lot going into the conference season. The conference season is what really matters the most. It was a chance to get good confidence back,” said Barrett.

The Pioneers will play Dyersburg State and Walters State in the next three weeks. All opponents are in the same conference, and nine games will be played between March 9-17. The only non-conference team played in this span is Joliet College on March 12-13.

“No matter who you are playing you still have to play the game. You still have to get outs. You still have to defend,” said Logan Maloney, assistant coach.

Ryan Hunt, head coach, called the conference teams “powerhouses” for how much depth each team has.

“You need depth, especially to battle in this conference,” said Barrett.

“We got to make the simple plays. No matter who we play, you don’t necessarily prepare differently for each team because then you are losing track of the goal that you are trying to do, and that’s just winning,” said Maloney.

Hopkins commented on whether he thinks the streak will continue.

“There’s no telling. Baseball is baseball. You could be the better team and lose any day,” said Hopkins.

The Pioneers will go to Dyersburg, Tennessee, March 9, and play a weekend series.

“We can do whatever we put our minds to. Keep the guys focused on one day at a time,” said Maloney.

 

Vol State Pioneers ready to face off against Columbia this weekend

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team is in the midst of a five-game winning streak since beating Lake Land College, Moraine Valley Community College, and Cumberland University’s JV team.  

The 5-3 Pioneers have now made it over .500 and hope to keep their record that way.

“It feels good. Finally over .500, especially starting 0-3. Hopefully we keep this going,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach of the team.

Hunt commented on his team’s offensive play during the Feb. 20 doubleheader against Cumberland University’s JV team.

“Looking for some guys to be more consistent with the bat. We have some guys really struggling offensively, and hopefully that gets better because it’s still early,” he said.

The Pioneers did have high scoring games against Cumberland, but Hunt still thinks the game could have gone differently.

“We didn’t do what we thought we’d do. They helped us out with some errors and that’s how we scored most of the runs,” he said.

After the doubleheader, the Pioneers had won five straight games and were in fifth place in the conference.

Hunt did comment on the successful run, saying that “pitching was really [good].

“Anytime you get a couple of wins is always good. Anytime you win five in a row it feels good no matter who you are playing,” he said.

Baylor Steelman, sophomore leadoff hitter and outfielder, commented on how the nearing conference games would go.

“It’s gonna be huge. It will be hard against all conference teams. We have to go out there and give it all we got.” Baylor said. “I hope to not think too much and just hit more line drives to be a better player.”

Since the start of the 2018 season, Steelman has been the Pioneers leadoff man (the first hitter). “This is my first year that I’ve led off. I’m starting to get used to it,” said Steelman, who went 0-1 with two walks against Cumberland Feb. 20.

With the regular season in play, the positions on defense and offense have been locked up. “There’s already a few guys who have solidified their position. Still waiting on a few guys to produce with the bat,” said Hunt.

The everyday starters are still in the mix for final decisions that Coach Hunt will make, and Steelman believes he is a solidified guy where he is.

“I think I have played good enough to earn the starting spot in center field. I have to keep working hard and not lose it,” said Steelman.

The Pioneers will soon travel to Columbia State University to take on the Chargers, who are 5-6-1, as of Feb. 22. Columbia defeated Chipola College in Chipola, Florida, Sunday, Feb. 18, 12-8.

“It’ll be tough playing Columbia at their place. They just beat the preseason number one team in the country in Chipola,” said Hunt.

“It is going to be a hard fought battle, but we can win it though,” said Steelman confidently about going to Columbia.

The Pioneers will travel to Columbia this weekend, March 2-3. Three games will be played. One on Friday and two on Saturday. The games will be live streamed on The Settler’s Twitter page, @TheSettler. Friday’s game is at 2 p.m., and Saturday’s games are at noon and 2:30 p.m.

Vol State is 220 paved parking spots short

 

Photo by Lauren Whitaker

Photo by Lauren Whitaker

By Lauren Whitaker

Volunteer State Community College is 220 paved parking spots short for the number of students who attend the college.

“This past year, well it was about a two-year process, we worked with a design and architectural firm out of Atlanta called TSW to do a master facility plan. One of the things they look at is a formula to determine how many parking spaces you should have,” said Dr. Jerry Faulkner, president of Vol State. “They came back and said we should have more parking spaces on this campus.”

During this evaluation by TSW, paved parking was the only parking considered. The two gravel overflow parking lots were not taken into account.

“I don’t know the exact number the gravel lots have. Where the gravel lots do not have lines, it’s hard to get an exact number,” Faulkner said.

Vol State plans to pave the two gravel overflow parking lots in the future.

The Tennessee Reconnect program goes into effect August 2018 at Vol State. The Reconnect program is one designed to allow adult students to go back to school tuition-free. Vol State expects an increase in students when the program begins.

“We believe a lot of these returning students are going to be students that work during the day. They will be interested in evening classes and online classes, and we are even planning to have Saturday classes to accommodate those students,” Faulkner said. “I don’t think we will have a significant parking issue.”

During the first semester of the Tennessee Promise students, Vol State addressed the parking issue by having students park in grass areas as needed. This plan will be reactivated if needed, said Faulkner.

“We can’t do that all the time because as the fall comes and the winter comes, people would get stuck,” Faulkner said.

Current students who arrive to school around mid-morning find parking to be difficult.

“I decided to take earlier classes on Tuesday and Thursday because I didn’t want to spend so much time searching for a parking space,” said Sarah Hall, a sophomore at Vol State.

“I have noticed, as the semester progresses, the parking situation gets better. I think students drop classes or people carpool,” said Shelby Swaby, a sophomore at Vol State. “I feel like there is a lot more staff parking that isn’t always filled. I don’t know how many spaces are reserved for staff, but I feel like there are always empty staff spaces.”

Pioneers gear up for baseball season

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball season is now in full swing.

Although the team only started playing this past weekend, the players feel like they are heading in the right direction.

Collin Hopkins, starting catcher for the Pioneers, summarized his current role on the team.

“I am being a leader on the field and knowing the game strategy is important,” he said.

Hopkins also talked about the team’s pitching.

“We are going to work on pitching, other than that I feel like we have a really great team, especially offensively,” said Hopkins.

“The pitching is on the right track, we just have to get there,” he said.

Redshirt Chase Haley gave an update based on where he believes he sits for this season.

“I think coach will just redshirt me this year, and if not then he’ll make his judgment based on seeing me a few more times,” said Haley.

“If I am not 100% this week, then I will be for sure next week,” he said.

With his PRP (platelet-rich-plasma) injection just last July, Haley is partaking in practice and still seeing if he fits on the regular season roster. He commented on what he would do if he did not make the final cut.

“I could work out then go to the game and be there as support,” said Haley.

Last Tuesday, Feb. 13, the Pioneers lost 9-1 to visiting team Wabash Valley College, who placed third in the NJCAA College World Series last season, said Logan Maloney, assistant coach.

“Everyone is getting into the swing of playing again, we’ve seen really good pitching and now some guys can make an adjustment at the plate,” said Maloney.

“We hung in there early, just had an inning that got away from us a little bit,” said Maloney.

“We are going to be a hard-nose gritty team. That is who we are going to be,” said Maloney about his team.

Maloney also said this team has a pretty good chemistry in the locker room.

Maloney discussed who would be starting for the Pioneers.

“We are still looking for our everyday starters. That is all up to Coach Hunt,” said Maloney.

Maloney has set a goal for his outfielders fielding the long hits by the batters.

“No ground ball errors. That is a goal we have set for ourselves in the outfield,” said Maloney.

“It’s about how you finish. It is not about how you start,” Maloney said.

The Pioneers will play Schoolcraft College and Parkland College on Saturday, Feb. 24. The first game will begin at 12:30 p.m. at Garrett Field on Vol State’s campus. The second game will begin at 2:30 p.m.

During spring break, the Pioneers will take the road to face off against the Columbia State Chargers at Dave Hall Baseball Field in Columbia, Tennessee, the weekend of March 2-3.

Pioneers to play in Flag City Tournament

Screen Shot 2018-02-09 at 8.58.00 PM

Photo courtesy of Immanuel DeJesus

 

By Nick Kieser

It is time to hit the road for the Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team this weekend. The team will play in the annual Flag City Tournament in Memphis, Tennessee.

The team is looking to get a win early in their season.

Ryan Hunt, head coach, knows that his guys still have some things to work on and is trying to “get all the kinks worked out” with the team.

Because of rain, one of the three games in Memphis has been moved to Vol State’s Garrett Field Feb. 12 at 2 p.m.

The Pioneers feel there are some improvements to be made in pitching.

“We need to throw our strikes better. We walked quite a few guys in our scrimmage versus Trevecca,” said Hunt.

This tournament will help the Pioneers in a few ways. First, the new freshman players will get a sense for how college baseball feels. Each player will have to transition to the fast-paced game played in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association). The trip to Memphis will also help preview how the team can play at its full potential this season.

“We could do good or even better than last year,” said Hunt about this tournament.

The team has a consistent work ethic and attends practices every weekday. The pitchers arrive at 1:30 p.m., and position players arrive at 2:30 p.m. If there is an intersquad scrimmage, everyone will be at the field at 1:30 p.m.

Freshman relief pitcher, Chase Haley, knows from his time scrimmaging that his coach is watching everyone closely.

Hunt has been running a lot of intersquads lately to see who will fit well into the system before the regular season starts, said Haley.

Still a redshirt, Haley wants to be back to where his pitching performance was in high school. He knows that throwing at 84 mph is not enough to crack the team as a freshman, but the feat is not impossible.

“I want to get back up to 87 mph so I can show the scouts that I am not the same I was in high school,” said Haley.

Despite having a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection for soreness, Haley feels he is progressing at a steady pace. Haley mentioned if he ever gets a chance to play over the weekend that he will “more than likely” throw a fastball as his first pitch.

To make the weekend and season easier, Haley reminds himself to keep an uplifting attitude. “I’ve been sore and that’s the body saying it’s working. If I dwell on my failure, it will continue to happen,” said Haley.

As the regular season nears, the team is realizing what this means for them.

“It’s starting to get close and more real to me,” said Haley.

After the Flag City Tournament, the Pioneers have a hefty workload in front of them.

“It can be a pretty daunting schedule,” said Hunt, talking about the long season his team will have.

Each game will need to have an element of urgency and to be taken seriously. No game on the schedule needs to be taken for granted, but rather, no matter the opponent, each game needs to be played at full speed.

“We’ll have our hands full. There is some good competition this year,” said Hunt.

Aggressiveness will be a major key for the Pioneers as a whole. Making themselves unpredictable will throw opponents off, and hopefully, by listening to Hunt, they can be happy with how they will perform.

The Pioneers home opener is Friday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. at Garrett Field versus the Moraine Valley Community College Cyclones.

 

Pioneers Prepare for 2018 Baseball Season

 

By Nick Kieser

The Volunteer State Community College Pioneers baseball team has started practicing and preparing for their full 45-game schedule.

The team has scrimmaged to give the coaches a chance to look at their players.

“I know that these guys will give me all they got,” said Ryan Hunt, head coach.

The Pioneers record last year was 29-20, and the team is focused on carrying over the positive aspects from last season.

“Having a winning season was good,” said Hunt. He hopes the winning tradition will continue into this 2018 season.

The Pioneers fell to the Parkland College Cobras late in the last few innings of the postseason last year.

“We played well in conference tournament and had the number one seed beat until the last inning,” said Hunt.

Now, the team wants to go is to put that loss behind them and move on. An early goal for the Pioneers is to beat Walter State and Dyersburg State. Both teams are considered ‘powerhouses’ by Hunt.  

The first regular season game is Feb. 9.  

Chase Haley, freshman relief pitcher, believes that his team has a lot to offer as the games are coming up.

Haley is currently a redshirt due to his health. Haley is trying to gain some muscle weight and strength as he is building back up to full participation. If he gets “back to 100 percent” and plays well, Hunt would take away the redshirt, Haley said.

Jordan Williams, freshman right outfielder, is also a redshirt.

“As a redshirt my goal is to develop and get better with skills,” said Williams. He wants to play his game and focus on his job on the field the best he can.

Williams, who has been playing baseball since he was five, sees the team heading in the right direction.

“We’ve come together a lot with having skilled players, and I think we’re going to be pretty good this year,” said Williams, a future sports athletic trainer.

“There were teams who beat us consistently, and we want to change that,” said Williams,.

One thing that has seemed important to all the team is keeping each other accountable and having good leaders.

Collin Hopkins, a catcher in his last year as a Pioneer, is looked up to by Williams.

“I know I can look up to him and that he has my back, but he also helps everyone gain confidence,” said Williams.

Jake Lyle, pitcher, is a role model for Haley.

“Jake has signed with ETSU, and we hope that more players will get looks as well,” said Hunt.

The goal for the team is to make it to the postseason and go to the College World Series.

“The key to our season is going to be our starting pitching, goal is to keep teams off balance,” said Hunt.

In order to have a successful season Hunt also has three elevated expectations of his players.

“Work hard, go to class, and represent yourself in the right way on and off the field,” he said.

The Vol State Pioneers will begin their regular season schedule in Millington, Tennessee, Feb. 9th against the Johnson County Community College Cavaliers in the Flag City Classic tournament this weekend. Their first home game at Garrett Baseball Field is Friday, Feb. 16, at 2 p.m.

Interest Piece: The wrestler among us

By: Barbara Harmon, Assistant Editor

 

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Brian Ferrell, a student at Volunteer State Community College, is also referred to by another name.

While Brian Ferrell is what his fellow classmates hear in class, “Brian Valor” is his name in the ring.

Ferrell is 26-years-old and pursuing his dream as a professional wrestler.

“I’ve been a wrestling fan since I was 5-years-old,” said Ferrell.

“The earliest match that I can remember watching was Macho Man Randy Savage vs The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania 7.

“Ever since then, I’ve been hooked,” he said.

Ferrell said he grew up with three brothers and they spent a lot of time wrestling around the house.

As a child, he said he collected wrestling video tapes, wrestling action figures, and wrestling magazines.

“From an early age, I always knew I wanted to be a wrestler and had an aspiration to become one,” said Ferrell.

“There were times I tried to shy away from it, because I knew about the risk and injuries.

“Seeing all the old timers who are old and broken down and can barely walk, plus the traveling and never being at home,” he said.

Ferrell said he used those reasons as excuses to pursue other things, but remained a loyal wrestling fan.

“But after a pep talk with my dad, about growing up with no regrets, it got me to thinking again about pursuing this career,” said Ferrell.

“That’s when I started looking for schools to go train at, and the rest is history,” he said.

Ferrell started training early last year in Lewisburg, Tennessee with Mikey Dunn.

After about five months with him, he went on the road with Shaun Hoodrich.

Ferrell continued to train with Hoodrich and became his tag team partner.

“I wrestle for USA Championship Wrestling, and they run shows in Gladeville, Tennessee; Lebanon, Tennessee; Dickson, Tennessee; Covington, Tennessee; and Jackson, Tennessee,” said Ferrell.

He wrestles for the Southern Wrestling Federation (SWF) in Tullahoma, Tennessee and Next Generation Wrestling (NGW) in Newport, Tennessee, as well.

“I am also one half of the NGW Tag Team Champion for Next Generation Wrestling down in Newport, Tennessee,” said Ferrell.

Ferrell has met or been in the ring with famous wrestlers like Ricky Morton, Bill Dundee and Jerry “The King” Lawler.

Ferrell explained that depending on which promotion he is with, determined if he was a heel (bad guy) or a baby-face (good guy).

He said wrestling is a typical superhero story—the heel gets heat from the crowd, and the baby-face gets cheered.

“I prefer being a bad guy—I like being a heel,” said Ferrell.

“I’m better at smack talking and feel like I’m a natural heel at heart, too,” he said.

Ferrell said it does not really bother him when people call wrestling fake, because they do not fully understand what wrestlers have to put their bodies through.

Ferrell explained that you do get hurt when you hit the mat, which is metal bars covered by wood and a mat.

“So it hurts when you get slammed on the ring,” said Ferrell. “You feel it every time.”

“Literally you are getting hurt out there, and at times I’m hurting myself more than my opponent,” said Ferrell.

“You have to brace yourself when you are doing moves off the top rope, because you are receiving the brunt of the impact,” he said.

“It’s the best decision I have ever made, and I feel that when pro wrestling is done right, it’s the greatest thing on earth,” said Ferrell.

“My only regret is that I wish I had started earlier, when I was 18 or 19,” he said.

“But now my goal is to make it to the WWE,” said Ferrell.

He will have a tryout with WWE in Nashville, Tennessee at the Bridgestone Arena, Feb. 29.

“I will be an extra talent and will possibly be on TV,” said Ferrell.

“Then, Tuesday, March 1, I will be traveling to Atlanta to have a tryout in front of talent agents and some of the superstars for evaluation.

“And I will also be on the TV taping of SmackDown, as an extra talent,” he said.

Ferrell encourages everyone to check out Monday Night Raw on the USA Network and SmackDown on Thursday nights at 7 p.m.

According to usanetwork.com, “SmackDown delivers a shot of adrenaline to viewers and bring fans over-the-top action, feats of athleticism beyond the reach of mortal men, and WWE’s special brand of drama.”

Tickets can be purchased at bridgestonearena.com, if any fellow students would like to cheer for Ferrell on Feb. 29.

“See all your favorite WWE Superstars LIVE including Roman Reigns, “The Lunatic Fringe” Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Triple H and the Authority, the WWE Divas and many more,” according to bridgestonearena.com.