A team of destiny…Cyclones earn return trip to state tourney with dominating 7-2 win over Alcoa

Published 7:40 am Tuesday, May 21, 2019

ALCOA— The season has been overflowing with adversity for an Elizabethton baseball team that came within a hair of playing for the state championship last season.

First, they lost Corey Russell for the season from a football injury against Anderson County and then during district tournament play senior catcher/infielder Evan Perkins broke his leg sliding into second base.

Many thought another trip this season may not even be in the mix, but head coach Ryan Presnell has preached the same sermon all season that this team is a team of destiny and on Friday the Cyclones continued to put aside the naysayers by taking down a 33-5 Alcoa Tornado team in commanding fashion, 7-2.

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It started on the mound

Junior Evan Carter was handed the ball to start the contest and after a shaky first inning where the Tornadoes took advantage of a walk and a wickedly hit ball down the third base line to take a 1-0 lead, Carter dropped anchor and was a rock the rest of the way.

Tossing a complete game, Carter struck out nine Alcoa batters walking only one in throwing the 98-pitch masterpiece.

Carter was on target with 69 strikes out of the 98 pitches he threw for the game.

Alcoa couldn’t figure Carter out who usually commands a blistering fastball but found more success with off-speed pitches that made the Alcoa batters look silly.

The Tornadoes managed only three hits in the seven-inning affair.

“You just have to have some confidence in your defense and our offense as well,” said Carter after the game. “We came out there tonight and hit the ball in all situations and got everybody in when they needed in.

“I didn’t feel any nervousness after that first inning and I don’t think anybody else did either. I was trying to throw all the pitches good and my defense helped me out a lot.”

Carter also identified what the difference has been for the season.

“I think just having God run through our locker room honestly. We love each other and we are best friends with each other. We are just really close and that helps out a lot.”

No fear shown

by Cyclone batters

The Cyclones knew more than likely they were going to be facing Will Shelton, a Chattanooga State signee, who is one of the three finalists for Class AA Mr. Baseball along with Elizabethton’s Matthew Dailey.

Elizabethton didn’t change their approach at the plate as the Cyclones went in hungry and aggressive and the results proved that as ‘Betsy pounded out eight hits in the contest and forced the Tornadoes into committing two errors in the field.

Shelton threw a ton of pitches, especially in the top of the third inning, and had to be lifted in the sixth after hitting the maximum 120 pitch limit.

The Cyclones missed out on the opportunity to score a couple more runs but the aggressiveness definitely caught the Tornadoes off guard.

That’s no freshman

Bryson Rollins continues to swing one of the hottest bats around as the freshman has been tearing the seams off the ball with his bat in the last eight to ten games.

The shortstop had two hits in three trips to the plate against Alcoa and drove in three Cyclone runs in the contest.

“I have been getting a little extra work after practice and before games,” said Rollins. “Actually, Evan has been throwing to me a lot and that has helped me a lot.

“It’s really, really special to be going back to state. I love each and every one of these guys. The coaches have been really great and they teach you a lot of life lessons on how to love God and have a good time.”

Carter helped himself out with two hits in the game as well. Karson Dillard, Jaden Anderson, Jacob Mullins, and Nico Ashley collected one hit each.

Giving praise where praise is due

“First thing I want to say is that I want to give all glory to my Savior, Jesus Christ, for everything that he has given my family and me,” said an emotion Presnell after the game. “I want to thank my family for the sacrifice they go through so I can be with these kids and make them a second family and teach them love.

“I had no doubt about this game since Wednesday night and it has nothing to do with Alcoa. That’s a heck of a baseball club.

“If we played three times, that third game would be a doozy I do know that,” continued Presnell. “I knew after Wednesday night that these kids grew up so much this week that nothing was going to stop them— nothing was going to stop this team. Nothing can stop a team of destiny and they are a team of destiny.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next week, nor do I care, I just know there are a bunch of guys that stepped up and are taking two seniors that can’t play right now back to Murfreesboro for a send-off and I am so proud of them that I can’t see straight.

First game announced

Elizabethton will take on the Nolensville Knights in the tournaments first game on Tuesday at 6:30 CST. The game can be listened to live on the Tom Taylor Sports Show available on Facebook.

Presnell knows that a lot of Cyclone fans will be traveling down to support his team and encourages the community to come if at all possible, to support the Cyclones at this year’s tournament.

There was a huge turnout for the sectional contest at Alcoa which Presnell acknowledged.

“We strive for excellence and our town is unapologetically old school—we don’t care what anybody thinks about us—we are going to roll out and support 15 and 16-year old kids and that we love them.”