Sevier County, Pigeon Forge baseball players have good summer

Aug. 18, 2014 @ 02:19 PM

Sometimes the toughest part of getting to the next level is making sure college coaches and recruiters see you.

Several local baseball players didn’t have to worry about that this summer thanks to the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association’s annual showcase.

“It’s a really neat experience,” said Sevier County coach Casey Taylor. “It allows coaches a chance to see players from other areas. It’s good exposure for the guys who made it, for the teams and programs they’re from.”

Five Smoky Bears got selected to play on the Region 1-2 team that went to Murfreesboro and competed in a two-day showcase that included a pro-style workout and three games against athletes from across the state. Pigeon Forge had two athletes picked from a tryout of about 85 high school baseball players. Chase Effler made the trip to Murfreesboro in mid-June but Jake Griffin missed the showcase with an injury. Nick Osborne, Austin Conner, Dallas Gossett, Zach Linginfelter and Devante Matthews attended for Sevier County.

The tryout was held at Carson-Newman in the spring and included athletes from every classification in Tennessee stretching from Lenoir City to Science Hill. It provided an opportunity for athletes to get to the showcase where Taylor said as many as 50 college scouts would be in attendance, including University of Tennessee coach Dave Serrano. Taylor said no more than 25 players could be picked for the showcase and culling the initial group of 85 down to two dozen is always a challenge.

While the Region 1-2 team eventually went 0-3 at the showcase, Taylor said the local players did well both in the workout and during games. 

“You see how they fit in against those upper-level players,” Taylor said. “They fit in well.”

Perhaps the most impressive Bear was Linginfelter who was throwing in the 90s.

“Kind of his coming-out party,” Taylor said. “He sparked a lot of interest. …. He showed well, showed a lot about who he currently is now and how he projects in two or three years. I thought he was one of the most eye-opening prospects there.”

Taylor also had praise for Matthews, who hit 89 on the gun and showed colleges what he is capable of at the closer position. Osborne made his second trip to the showcase, reading 89 miles per hour with some good at-bats while Conner showed off his arm strength and accuracy on defense, Taylor said. Gossett also did well defensively in a number of positions while the Tigers’ Effler was a strong hitter throughout the tryout process, the coach said.

Stars win CABA world series

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The Knoxville Stars, coached by Aaron Guinn and Josh Warner, won the Continential Amateur Baseball Association's wood-bat 17U World Series for the second time in three years in July.

The team ended up going 8-0-1 in the tournament and featured Pigeon Forge's Jake Griffin and Sevier County's Devante Matthews, Nick Osborne, Austin Conner and Dallas Gossett. Gossett and Matthews made the All-Tournament team.

"We just got really hot a tthe right time," said Pigeon Forge coach Mike Guinn. "We had some good players and they played well. ...  This area has some great support. There's some really good coaches in the area. The kids are willing to work at it."