Hunter McSwain

Former Henry County High School left-handed pitcher Hunter McSwain lets go of a pitch during a 2012 game at HCHS. McSwain joins his father, Mike, on fantasy staff.

It’s going to be hard for any opponent to compete with my All-Tee Pee Talks fantasy baseball team.

The sheer star power in my lineup of players that competed at Henry County High School since 1985 is blinding. The infield is stacked, the outfield is loaded and the catchers are unmatched. Now I just need to add a pitching staff.

I’m going to talk about a group that throws from both sides of the pitching rubber. They feature speed guys and some other hurlers who have great breaking pitches. The main thing they all have is great competitiveness and most importantly they are consistent winners.

FOUR RIGHT-HANDERS TO START

My starters from the right side are going to be Mike McSwain, Chris Hudgins, Matt Crowder and Adam Weatherly.

McSwain and Hudgins were Patriot teammates in the mid-1980s. They grew up as neighbors in the Atkins-Porter School area where they played every sport possible.

For many years the kids in that area met to play baseball at Porter Field. That wasn’t really a baseball field but was an open portion of the yard behind the Porter mansion on Dunlap Street. Bald spots in the grass were bases and home plate was a tree stump. You had to pay if you broke a window on the garage at the back of the field and they were supposed to stay out of the garden.

That field was home to an untold legion of ball players and played a big part in developing the Patriot baseball family tree.

With that kind of raising, both Hudgins and McSwain developed hard-throwing arms that could throw all day. McSwain went on to pitch at the University of Tennessee at Martin and Hudgins at Lambuth University. I once took photos of them pitching for their teams against each other in Martin while they were in college.

Hudgins wasn’t known for being a great power hitter in high school but he once walked out to the on-deck circle at Clarksville High School where I was taking photos and told me he was going to hit a home run — and did it! Of course, he also met me at the door at HCHS one morning telling me that Patriot assistant coach Randy Veazey was driving the bus the night before and knocked down the bridge at Dover. He was exaggerating, of course. When I asked Veazey about it he said no, he didn’t knock down the bridge but he did knock a mirror off the bus on the old narrow bridge that used to cross the Cumberland River there.

Crowder was out of that same mold as the first two as a pitcher. He could control three or four pitches that he kept hitters off balance with. He also was a good hitter and played at Lambuth in the late 1990s.

Weatherly was Crowder’s teammate at HCHS and gave the Patriots a great 1-2 punch on the mound. He and Crowder both were All-District in 2001 and were part of Patriot teams that were in the midst of five straight District 10-AAA championships from 1997-2001.

HOW ABOUT SOME SOUTHPAWS?

I’d announced earlier this week that Paul Putman was my fantasy coach. To give him some options to play matchups against certain opponents, I’m naming lefties Hunter McSwain and Jared Pugh to the squad.

McSwain will be joining his father on this pitching staff but throws with the other arm. Health was always an issue with the younger McSwain but when healthy he could dominate an opposing lineup. He pitched in college at Volunteer State Community College in Gallatin after graduating from HCHS in 2012.

Jared Pugh is a more recent Patriot who was the district’s pitcher of the year in 2016. He had great control and enough speed to enjoy a very successful high school career.

POWER ARMS CAN CLOSE GAMES

Dane Archer did most of his pitching at HCHS as a starter and did it well enough to earn the district’s Most Valuable Player award. He was a middle of the order presence as a hitter, too. I like the idea of him throwing the last two or three innings of games where he could really let the ball go and not hold anything back. He’ll be joining his brother Josh who is the catcher on this team.

Dustin Summers is the other reliever I’m naming here and he did just that a lot for the Patriots when he was in high school. An All-District performer in 1999, Summers threw hard but with control and had the toughness to finish off opponents.

If Putman feels he needs another arm or two, hurlers like Doug Barner, Dock McDonald, Shane Kemp and Richard Raymer are listed at other spots on this team but were renowned pitchers in their own right in high school. I’m sure they can deliver effective innings when needed.

THAT’S MY PITCHING STAFF

That’s my pitching staff but my goodness there have been a ton of great pitchers at HCHS. Even if I mention stars like Ricky Collier, Luke Millraney, Thom Hunter Pratt, Matt Lee, Eric Chandler, Mark McClure, Corey Searcy, Ryan Hastings, David McDonald, Jason Wade, Donnie Webb and Chris Lee, then I’m still leaving a lot of guys out.

Go Big Red!

TOMMY PRIDDY is a Paris native who has been sports editor at The Post-Intelligencer since 1985. He can be reached by email at sports@parispi.net.

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