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Nucleus set for Pharr’s 4th title run


Despite question marks in the outfield and at second base, the 2008 Farragut High School baseball team features a solid nucleus of players who contributed to the team’s 2006 Class AAA state championship run.

“I think they’re similar to some of the other [championship] teams we’ve had in the fact that they have real good chemistry, our seniors are all very close,” said head coach Tommy Pharr, who in his first 10 seasons at Farragut has produced three state titles and three runners-up. “To me that’s the biggest strength of the team.

“From a talent standpoint, we have a chance to be a really talented team.”

The Admirals are coming off a 28-11 season in 2007, finishing second in District 4-AAA’s regular season before being upset by Lenoir City to be eliminated in the 4-AAA tourney.

Last year was only the third time in Pharr’s tenure an FHS team did not reach the state tourney (1998, 2000).

“That was probably a good lesson for us last year,” Pharr said. “Hopefully we’ll stay focused on playing the game, every game.”

Farragut’s talent list starts with senior standout Matt “The Hammer” Ramsey, staff pitching ace and starting center fielder.

“Matt, he’s played here a long time and he’s one of the better players we’ve got,” Pharr said. “He’s in that same kind of group as some of the storied guys we’ve had in the past.

“I think he’s going to be a good one and have a great year for us on the mound, at the plate and defensively, too,” Pharr added.

On the mound, Ramsey’s biggest assets are “great arm strength, very good velocity, will pitch in the upper 80s [mph], low 90s,” Pharr said. “He can locate, he’s around the plate. Good breaking ball, throws a good change-up, he a competitor. Good athlete out there.”

Next in the rotation are “several guys, I don’t know how it’s going to play out,” Pharr said. (More on these players later in the story).

Senior Michael Williams is a three-year starter at catcher. “Michael is very good defensively, has a very strong arm,” Pharr said. “He’s a Division One-type player. He’s a good leader for us. As far as on the field, he takes control for us. He’s a very solid player.

“Offensively, I think he’s going to have a really good year for us,” Pharr added. “He’s gotten a lot stronger. Average-wise, he was one of our better hitters last year, so I look for him to have a really big year.”

Sophomore Ethan Bennett will back-up Williams.

Junior standout Curt Powell again will start at shortstop, a role he’s held since a freshman. “To me he’s kinda our catalyst, he’s our lead-off hitter,” Pharr said. “He’s a guy that can run, very good hitter, extremely good defensive player.

“He’s a Division One player,” the FHS skipper added. “He’s as good as any we’ve had over there, and we’ve had some good ones. He’s going to be in the same mold as Tony [Delmonico] and some of the other guys that we’ve had.”

Standout junior Cade Stallings, another two-year starter, returns at third base and will bat third or clean-up.

“Cade has been one of our best hitters — probably was our best hitter last year,” Pharr said. “Got a ton of power.

“And the thing that people don’t realize is that he’s also a very good defensive player,” the coach added. “Good feet, good hands, strong arm. Plays a real good third base.”

At first base, senior Joey Delmonico and junior Mac Thoreson “will probably split some time there,” Pharr said. “Mac’s a good, solid hitter, kinda a student of the game. Works extremely hard.

“Joey has [been designated hitter] the past couple of years ... he’s got some power. I think that’ll be one of our better offensive players.” Pharr said. Delmonico may see some time at third base.

Second base “is kinda wide open,” with senior Ryan Burnett, junior Ellison Fitchpatrick, junior Brian Isom and freshman Nicky Delmonico all in the mix, Pharr said.

As for his other pitchers, Pharr said junior Jordan Cooper, a lefty, “is one of our better pitchers” and joins Thoreson, seniors Hunter Newby and Chris Hatfield and freshman Philip Pfeifer in the starting rotation mix.

Shane Glarrow, a senior, returns as Pharr’s bullpen closer and general relief arm.

Besides Ramsey, the Admiral outfield is “wide open” according to Pharr. Senior Matt Sayers “has worked extremely hard, I think he’s going to have a chance to play for us somewhere in the outfield,” the coach said.

Senior Eric Bigeral and junior Blake Hayes also are in the mix, along with Cooper.

Senior Zach Allen, out while recovering from shoulder surgery, started in the FHS outfield last season. “We hope to get him back at some time,” Pharr said.

Other Admirals looking to contribute are infielder Trip Keeton, pitcher Ryan Littman, outfielder Grant Tabor, pitcher Marshall Leavell, infielder/pitcher Sam Thomas, outfielders David Allen and Steven Weaver, pitcher Phil Ferriera-Alves, outfielder Brandon Palmer and pitcher/infielder Nick Williams.

Assistant coaches are Davis Burklin, Mike Giroud and Kenny Lewis.

 

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