EHS breaks ground on new baseball facility

Published 6:01 pm Thursday, January 25, 2024

By Ron Marvel

Star Correspondent

Groundbreaking took place this week on what will become the Evan Carter Hitting Facility. It will provide both batting cages and pitching lanes to Elizabethton High School and the community. The service that took place provided a reminder of what is possible when a community comes together. Cyclones Head Baseball Coach Ryan Presnell shared how the opening of the facility will be the culmination of a dream that took place 10 years ago. “This will mean no longer on cold rainy days will we be twiddling our thumbs; we will be inside working; it will provide the opportunity for athletes to get better at their craft. It will have four 70-foot cages or eight 35-foot lanes, and there will be two pitching lanes as well. This has been a dream a long time coming; today when the shovel hits the ground it will be a surreal kind of moment,” Presnell shared.

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In attendance was former Cyclone, hometown hero, and World Series Champion Evan Carter who currently plays for the Texas Rangers. Sales from his “Jesus Won” t-shirt helped propel the fundraising efforts for this endeavor. The public nature of Evan Carter’s donation made Coach Presnell’s fundraising efforts much easier. Evan Carter was quick to reflect and to give credit to the community during the event, “whenever I was coming up with my buddies, we didn’t have anything like this, to be able to help provide not only this to the high school but to the community.” This says a lot about this place to reach out to people and have them jump on board is a testament to what we are about,” Carter shared.

The groundbreaking ceremony started with current baseball player Brayden Buckles welcoming everyone and giving an opening prayer. Coach Presnell then talked about the dream being fulfilled and his hopes for the facility, including his hope that the new field house would be in use 363 days a year. Coach Presnell then announced that the facility would be named the Evan Carter Hitting Facility in honor of Carter’s work in bringing this dream to life. Carter was surprised Coach Presnell tabbed the field house in his honor. “I had no idea he was going to do that; they’re just all a huge part of where I am at today because they have shown so much support for me; so to be able to give back means a lot,” Carter explained. Daniel Lewis, representing Mitch Cox Construction, shared information on all the companies that have agreed to donate as the facility is being erected. The donors then came forward with shovels in hand to ceremonially break ground, and finally, Bryson Rowland, current Cyclones baseball player, closed the ceremony off once again, giving thanks to donors and offering a prayer of invocation.

Coach Presnell, post-ceremony, shared his hope that the facility could have “open swing nights” where people could just walk off the street and come in and hit and that there will be a process where folks could register their teams and use the facility. The field house will also feature Rapsodo technology that will be able to look at things like exit velocity and spin rate as well as numerous cameras so athletes can review their performance and make necessary adjustments. Sponsors who have donated or will be donating include 84 Lumber, UFP Construction, Mullins Insulation, Andrew and Casey McKeehan, General Shale, Summers-Taylor, NCI, Evan Carter, FCA, Xtreme Apparel, Citizens Bank, Secure Test Alarms, Guardian Homes, Richard Barker and Blackburn, Childres, and Steagall as well as several anonymous donors.