Get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in.
For the past three seasons, the Tiger tandem of senior second baseman Rihied Harris and senior outfielder Lance Estes have provided Cedar Bluff with an effective 1-2 punch. They’ve set the tone for the rest of the Tiger hitters.
This season, Harris batted .423 with 15 doubles, a triple, 32 stolen bases, 22 walks, 42 runs and 28 RBIs as the Tiger leadoff hitter.
Estes followed Harris in the lineup and batted .356 with 14 doubles, a triple, 36 stolen bases, 27 walks, 43 runs and 26 RBIs. Estes was also hit by a pitch 18 times last season, and finished with 45 HBPs in his career.
Both players’ numbers helped lead the Tigers (25-14) to the Class 1A state quarterfinals.
When it came time for the Cherokee County baseball coaches to select their Most Valuable Player, they were split with their decision. Tiger head coach Taylor Talbot said one couldn’t go without the other, so the coaches voted Harris and Estes co-MVPs.
“They compliment each other so well in what they do in the small game – running, stealing, moving guys. The way they hustle, they kind of play with a reckless abandon,” Talbot said. “Those two go with each other. If one is comparable to be MVP, the other one is too because of what they do at the plate. They make each other work so well and set the tone for the other guys in the middle of our lineup – Curtis (Abernathy), Austin (McCullough) and Lot (Maxwell).
“Those guys have been 1-2 for us for three years, and that’s going to be tough to replace.”
Harris said he’s humbled to share the MVP award with Estes.
“It feels great sharing the honor with Lance because he and I are really good friends,” he said. “We always compete with each other. Whenever I bat first and he’s batting second, he usually gets me in. It’s great being co-MVP with him.”
Estes said there’s no one he’d rather share the MVP award with than Harris.
“Being voted by the coaches to be co-MVP with Rihied is a great honor,” Estes said. “I feel like if Rihied gets a hit, then I’m right behind him with a hit, and when we do that, the rest of the guys are feeding off of us. You can’t stop us then. We’re rolling.
“Going out as seniors, being able to get MVP is really great. We’ve been working a long time for this.”
Harris and Estes aren’t the only Tigers on the All-County team. Cedar Bluff also has five in junior pitchers Abernathy and Levi Mintz, junior catcher/pitcher McCullough, junior outfielder/pitcher C.J. Gilreath and senior first baseman/pitcher Maxwell.
Abernathy was 10-0 with a pair of saves in 62 2/3 innings. He gave up 18 runs (7 earned) on 29 hits with 14 walks and 78 strikeouts. Abernathy also had a shutout and a 0.99 ERA.
Mintz was 6-2 with a save in 53 1/3 innings pitched. He gave up 16 runs (10 earned) on 22 hits with 11 walks and 70 strikeouts. Mintz also had a shutout and a 1.68 ERA.
McCullough batted .321 with a home run and 29 RBIs. He was also 3-1 on the mound with a 2.99 ERA.
Gilreath batted .376 with a homer and 24 RBIs.
Maxwell batted .311 with a home run and 21 RBIs. He was also 2-2 on the mound with a 2.28 ERA.
Spring Garden (20-16) has four selections in senior second baseman/pitcher Ryan Messer, sophomore shortstop/pitcher Grant Benefield, junior catcher Jake Grogan and junior third baseman Will Penton.
Messer batted .357 with 10 doubles, a triple, 40 runs and 24 RBIs. He was also 3-2 on the mound in 46 2/3 innings. Messer gave up 36 runs (23 earned) on 41 hits with 17 walks, 51 strikeouts and a 3.45 ERA.
Benefield batted .340 with three doubles, 23 runs and 23 RBIs. He was also 6-5 on the mound in 58 1/3 innings. Benefield gave up 44 runs (31 earned) on 61 hits with 22 walks, 71 strikeouts and a 3.72 ERA.
Grogan batted .339 with three doubles, a triple, 25 runs and 26 RBIs. Penton batted .327 with 10 doubles, two homers, a triple, 12 walks, 30 runs and 28 RBIs.
Gaylesville (11-17), Cherokee County (8-16) and Sand Rock (8-12) each had three selections on the team.
The Trojans are represented by senior second baseman Zack Cavin, senior first baseman Brian Sanford and senior shortstop/pitcher Levi Morgan.
Cavin batted .395 with five doubles. He also stole 17 bases, scored 27 runs and had 12 RBIs.
Sanford batted .430 with six doubles, three home runs, a triple, 23 runs and 36 RBIs. He also had 19 walks and eight stolen bases.
Morgan batted .375 with a home run, 35 runs and 26 RBIs. He was also 4-4 on the mound in 58 innings with 71 strikeouts and a 2.54 ERA.
The Warriors are represented by junior pitcher/first baseman Tanner Young, junior third baseman Logan Pierce and junior centerfielder Jacob Whitmire.
Young went 4-4 on the mound in 50 innings. He gave up 34 runs (27 earned) on 42 hits with 24 walks, 33 strikeouts and a 3.75 ERA At the plate, Young batted .295 with a pair of doubles, nine walks, five runs and six RBIs.
Pierce batted .373 with six doubles, two home runs, nine walks, 13 runs and 20 RBIs. Whitmire batted .286 with a pair of doubles, nine walks, 13 runs and seven RBIs.
The Wildcats are represented by freshman shortstop/pitcher Austin Chambers, freshman catcher Dustin Chambers and sophomore pitcher Ethan Jimmerson.
Austin Chambers batted .313 with a home run and 15 RBIs. He was also 5-2 on the mound. Dustin Chambers batted .304 with two homers and 19 RBIs. He also stole seven bases. Jimmerson went 2-1 on the mound with a 2.94 ERA. He also batted .403 with 13 runs and six stolen bases.