McNairy County pipeline for Bethel Baseball
By Andrew Alexander
Adamsville’s Will Erwin signs with the Bethel University Baseball Program and is accompanied by his mother, Ginger Erwin, Bethel Head Coach Rusty Thompson, bottom-left, and Assistant Coach Eric Patton, top center.
Former Bobcat Eric Moore, center, sits with parents Wayne and Robin Moore and is also accompanied by Bethel Assistant Coach Eric Patton, top left, MCHS Head Coach Brian Franks, top middle, and Bethel Head Coach Rusty Thompson, top right, while signing with the Bethel University Baseball Program.
McNairy Central High School’s Eric Moore and Adamsville High School’s Will Erwin signed with the Bethel University Baseball Program July 18, according to a report on the Wildcat’s official website.
During his senior season Moore boasted a 6-1 record, a 3.91 earned run average, and 40 strikeouts over 34 innings pitched, according to MCHS Head Coach Brian Franks. He was also named to the 15AA All-District Team along with being an honorable mention on Jackson Sun’s All-West Tenn. Team along with Erwin.
“Proud to see [Moore] play on the next level,” said Franks. “He’s an excellent kid, hard worker, and you can always count on him.”
According to Bethel’s report, Wildcat Head Coach Rusty Thompson feels the same.
“[Moore] will be an asset to our team as he matures,” said Thompson. “We look forward to him being a part of our family for the next four years.”
Thompson commented on the Wildcats inking Erwin to an athletic scholarship as well.
“Will is an exciting player who has a chance to be a very good player in our program,” said Thompson. “He has a passion for the game and comes from a winning program at the high school level.”
Erwin was named to the 15A All-District Team and 8A All-Region Team after batting .381 with 21 RBIs, 18 stolen bases, and 43 runs scored in his senior season. Erwin was also named to the All-State team his junior year at AHS.
With the addition of MCHS Pitcher Moore and AHS Infielder Erwin, Bethel now tallies seven players from McNairy County on the teams official roster.
Moore and Erwin will join former Cardinals Buddy Robinson, Jason Foley, and Cade Chambers, along with former Bobcat JP Dickey at Bethel’s campus in McKenzie, Tenn. this fall.
Last year’s Bethel roster included two additional Cardinals Dustin Blakney and Robert McArthur, and former Bobcat Jordan Dickey who would have made the total number of former McNairy County players nine, but according to teammates, they will not return to the team.
With familiar faces in the dugout and on the campus, the baseball experience at Bethel is one the players are enjoying.
Robinson has played on Bethel’s junior varsity squad the past three seasons and says having other McNairy County players around makes life a little easier.
“I enjoy it. We keep each other going during games,” said Robinson. “If I’m watching Cade or Jason pitch I’m always yelling, and if I’m down during one of my games they try to keep my spirits up.”
Foley suffered an arm injury in the seventh game of Bethel’s 2010-2011 season that forced him to sit out the remainder of the season.
“It was very frustrating. I had gotten off to a good start and having to sit and watch helplessly wasn’t very easy to do,” said Foley. “I’ve done some rehab, and I expect to be back to 100 percent by the time our season starts.”
Foley said his role will be as a reliever for the Wildcats, and that he feels like the environment at Bethel is unique.
“Being able to continue my baseball career with some of my high school teammates and closest friends is pretty surreal for me,” said Foley. “It is a great privilege that many people do not have.”
Chambers, who is also coming off a season of injury, plans on developing his off-speed pitches to better suit his role as the Wildcat closer, a position he covets.
“Being hurt for the majority of the year did not give me much of an opportunity to improve my physical skills as far as baseball,” said Chambers, “but it helped me to improve my mental toughness to keep my composure through adversity.”
Chambers said being on a team with players from high school was a major contributing factor in choosing to play for Bethel.
“It’s the reason I chose Bethel as my next school. I wanted to finish out college with my best friends and have fun playing baseball at the same time,” Chambers said. “Being at Bethel has put me in the perfect situation to accomplish both of those things.”
With six local players on the Bethel roster, whose classes range from freshman to senior, it is apparent that McNairy County has become a pipeline of sorts for the Bethel Baseball Program.