Summer in Atlanta is really nice this time of year. The feeling of essence you get when you step foot at Lakepoint is something I think every baseball player lives for. It’s an unreal experience and something we truly take pride in at every event we play in. You never know when it is going to be your last, but you will always remember those times you played at a place like Lakepoint, East Cobb, or on Vandy’s field. They are memories that will last with you for a lifetime. That’s what this is all about. Creating an incredible experience for a group of young men, that will build friendships that will last with them forever. So to all that we say thank you to those that allow us to participate in these incredible events. The tip of the cap from the 5 Star Midsouth staff.
Now… onto the good stuff! Our 2023 National group is in for quite the summer ahead of them. Already a roster featuring two dudes committed to D1 schools, we expect big things ahead for this rising group.
“Going to be interesting to watch this team play as a whole,” said Head Coach Josh Taylor. “We have to have the ability to contribute in all aspects of the game if we are going to have a strong showing this summer.”
That is definitely the intriguing part of this group. They have the depth, and the arms to really be one of the top teams in the area. That’s what they are going to rely on, is their ability to step toe for toe with anybody on the mound, and with the depth, they have their ability to play really strong defense no matter who is on the field.
“Defense is going to be the secret sauce,” said Taylor. “We have some top-end arms that are going to be able to keep teams off-balance. We just need to utilize our athleticism defensively to take care of the horses we have going on the mound.”
Speaking of horses, this pitching staff has already seen 5 dudes live in the low 80’s and, some even pushing into the mid 8’s this Spring & last Fall. One of the biggest pieces to the staff is Andrew Moore (CAK) who has lived in the mid 80 marks all Spring. He is a part of one of the deepest staff in the state and was seen pretty regularly throughout the week competing for innings. Even touching up to 88 on the bump. He’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. His teammate Luke Jones (CAK) was in a very similar position as well. Has been consistent in that low 80 mark getting up into that 85 to 86 range from time to time, he is another really strong kid that is ready to make a huge jump this summer on the travel ball circuit.
Let’s continue the trend for pitchers who are teammates as well as we talk about Trent Miller and Jacob Conquest from (Greenbrier H.S.). Trent has put together a really strong Spring for the Bobcats. Living in the 82-84 range up to 87 this Spring. The physical body Trent possesses shows there is a lot more in the tank for this young man. Jacob may not possess the body Trent has, but he’s got a lot of strength and athleticism that really competes well for him on the mound. He was a guy that was 82-85 this Fall touching 86. He’s working himself back from an injury, but he should be able to compete for really strong quality innings by June.
Hunter Harris (Ensworth) is another freak-athlete that who can play anywhere in the outfield. Hunter really has a strong arm, that’s his huge strength. He was a guy earlier this year up to 86 from the OF and 84 on the mound back in the Fall. He is continuing to put in the work, and he is going to be one of the biggest sleepers we believe in.
Caleb Ferguson (Lebanon H.S.) is another arm on the mound this group will rely on. A guy who came on late last summer, unfortunately, had an injury in the Fall that kept him out most of Spring. He’s in for a long summer season as he has recently increased his workload on the mound.
Let’s get to the offensive standpoint and talk about the fellas who will be doing the bulk of the duties behind the plate. Adam Partin (Green Hill H.S.), Kyle Fitzgibbons (Mount Juliet H.S.), and Ty Gantt (Cookeville H.S.). All have the ability to catch at a very high level. Adam both offensively and defensively is a trendsetter for this group. He’s been in the middle of the lineup all year for his high school and was a guy this past fall that hit over .400. He just finds ways to get on base, and with his leadership behind the plate, he is one of the best catchers without a doubt in the state.
“I feel our team is going to do very well and compete deep into the tournaments,” said Partin. “We want to compete against the best teams.”
Kyle is an extremely athletic catcher who can also play quite a bit of outfield. He runs well and will utilize his athleticism wherever he is asked to do so. He could be one of the strongest kids on this team, so it’s going to be exciting to watch his development unfold. Ty is built like a brick house. Don’t be mistaken though, this guy moves well for his size. His ability to find the barrel and the ability to hit it out of the park is going to be a huge difference-maker for this team.
Around the infield, we have Christian Taylor (Green Hill H.S.), Taylor Head (Jo Byrns H.S.), Jackson Lea (Lebanon H.S.), Connor Gannon (Lebanon H.S.), and Easton Krenzke (Mount Juliet H.S.). Christian, is an (MTSU commit) and is the first commit inside this really talented 2023 class. He is one of the best middle infielders in the state respectfully. He’s as clean with the glove as anyone we have seen no matter the class you are in. His ability to run, 6.87 | 60’ time allows him to be an extra-base hit machine. He’s a ton of fun to watch, and we are proud the hard work he continues to put in continues to get noticed on a national level.
“We will be one of the higher caliber teams this summer,” said Taylor. “Every tournament we play in, we expect to be able to hang with the best of them, and find ways to win.”
Taylor Head is Mr.Fundamental in our eyes. He is really versatile as he can play anywhere on the infield. He’s really put in the work this off-season and is getting much stronger as he has two home runs on the year for his high school club. We also expect him to have a lot of mound time for this group this summer. Jackson Lea does all the little things right for this team. The middle infielder runs well, and always finds ways to get on-base. He’s an OBP machine with his ability to work counts and set the tone with his discipline at the plate.
His teammate for his high school, Connor Gannon, is a very physical-looking kid. His ability to hit baseballs is what sets him apart as he utilizes much of that strength he has to barrel balls up. He can play both corner positions and will be able to do so all summer long. Easton Krenzke, aka “Mr.Bunt,” is a true teammate for the guys on this team. He provides a ton of energy for the team, and it reflects that top to bottom with the group of players we have. He’s also a bunting guru we think because it does not matter who’s on base, or the count he is in, his ability to get on-base with the bunt game is a huge difference-maker especially for what this team hopes to accomplish.
“We are going to cause a lot of action on the offensive standpoint,” said Coach Taylor. “We are going to bunt, we are going to use the hit & run, we just want to create a lot of moving parts for the opposing team to decide how to play us.”
Patrolling the bulk of the outfield comes pure athleticism in Bishop Quarles (Goodpasture Christian), Brody Ballou (Siegel H.S.), and Ben Marshall (Blackman H.S.). Bishop, who is the youngest on the team, is a 2024 commit and the first 2024 commit to being committed in the class as he is committed to Ohio State. He’s one of the top players in the class and is being recognized on a national level with his showings he had this Fall and Winter. The smooth-moving OF is going to be a lot of fun to watch, as he is a true difference-maker for this team both offensively and defensively. Brody is another smooth-moving lefty who can play anywhere in the outfield. He can impact similarly like Bishop, both offensively and defensively for this team. He has shown just that this spring as he’s been in the starting outfield in just about every single game this season for Siegel. Ben, is another freak athlete who is the starting TE currently on the Blackman football team. He runs well for his huge size, which allows him to be another XBH monster in the summer season. He will look to make a big splash for the team.
A lot to really like for this group. They have the depth to make runs in big events both on the offensive side and on the mound. It’s a talented group, and we expect nothing less from them when it comes to competing and wanting to play against the best.
“We are going to see a lot of colleges wanting to come and watch these guys,” said Coach Taylor. “They all have a ton to contribute, which will make this summer really fun for these guys when their number is called.”
“Grit: It’s the resilience to fight back when a game gets tough. It’s the will to push beyond one’s current physical capacities on the field. It’s what disciplines the elite player to hit the hay early while others succumb to late-night distractions. And most of all, it’s what keeps these players from giving up in the long haul – even after injuries, setbacks, and adversity. Day after day, week after week, year after year, these athletes continue to show up,” from Angela Duckworth.
Love this definition and portrayal of the word grit. We always hear stories of the player who has a lot of grit, or the player who is hard-nosed. The way to sum it up is exactly like the end of the quote says; “it’s what keeps the players from giving up,” said CEO of Character Lab Duckworth.
This mindset is built for mental toughness. Why is that so important you ask? Well if we are playing in a high-pressure situation, those are the guys we want. The guys that are not going to back down from anybody. The no-excuses type, the ones that are disciplined enough to stay the course. It’s a mindset that comes from within because when the going gets tough you only have two options:
2.) Fight Back
That’s what going to make this group so much fun to watch. They are a bunch of fighters. Doesn’t matter who they are going to fight against, they are going to stay in your face and let you know that we aren’t going to back down. It starts from the top, and Coach Zach Sanders has already said his group better be ready to bring it.
“We are going to be the team that excels at doing the little things right,” said Sanders. We are going to get hit by pitches, advance on dirt balls, bunt for hits, and battle to the last out.”
That they for sure will. The roster is set up with 14 players that are extremely versatile at what they do. Lots of guys have the ability to play multiple positions and do so at a very high level. Isaac Schafer (Wilson Central H.S.) is as athletic as they come. He runs a 6.99 / 60’ time that allows him to play everywhere in the outfield. However, the bulk of his success this spring season has been his ability on the mound. One notable performance from him earlier this year, was him shutting out Mount Juliet H.S. in a 1-0 victory in district play. He has been an absolute competitor all season long, and he is going to translate that well once summer begins.
“I’m ready for the summer,” said Schafer. I am looking forward to competing as a team, and competing against some of the best talents.”
Dylan Guethlein (Wilson Central H.S.) is a returner to the Mafia from last year, and the crafty lefty / OF is ready to make a huge jump this summer. He’s been battling with a knot in his throwing arm but should be able to return throughout the summer. This will be big as the southpaw fills up the zone, and creates a lot of good matchups with his off-speed stuff to complement everything.
Donovan Peebles (Smyrna H.S.) was with us last year as well, so he knows the expectation that is needed to compete against these really high-level teams.
“We are going to get our job done this summer,” said Peebles. “We have a lot of talent on this team for us to be a winning team. Now we just gotta go get it done.”
Peebles will be another huge piece on the mound this summer as he’s been up into the low 80’s this spring. His bat from the left-hand side has quite the pop. Hitting 2 home runs on his varsity campaign.
Speaking of pop, Jack Murray (Sycamore H.S.), Nicolas Kropf (Davidson Academy), Cameron Curtis (Rockvale H.S.), and Daniel Floyd (MTCS) are going to be asked to be huge run-producers for the squad, and they definitely have the strength to do so as well. Murray, who will do some catching this summer, can absolutely hit baseballs at will. His strength is legit as he showed back in October with an 89 exit velocity to his resume. He’s a freak athlete. Kropf, another catcher for the squad has been asked to do quite a lot of it this spring for Davidson Academy. He responded well, and his bat really came to life and stayed that way all season long. His approach is simple which allows him to barrel up baseball as consistent as they come.
Cameron Curtis who is a young buck for the old guys on the 2023 team is ready for the challenge this upcoming summer. Don’t be mistaken this 2024 can really swing it and has really thrown well this spring, even making an appearance on the bump for varsity. Daniel Floyd looks like a gentle giant, but again if you haven’t kept up with the theme, he can really swing it. Another guy with an easy approach that allows him to hit a baseball to all fields, is also going to be asked to do some mound time for the squad this summer as well.
Bakari Rush (MLK) is another catcher that provides this group a ton of depth if ever in a pinch behind the plate. Bakari moves well for his size and has a really strong arm to go with it. He’s one of the hardest working people we have had the chance to be around.
Drew Jones (Wilson Central H.S.), Landon Phillips (Lebanon H.S.), and Ty Burk (Cookeville H.S.) create a lot of that versatility we were referring to earlier in the article. All three are going to be asked to play multiple positions and do so at a very high level. Especially along the infield which all three have the ability to play on the left-side or at 2B. Drew Jones is another fast-twitch athlete that is going to be a force to be reckoned with when he gets on 1B. The man can absolutely run with the best of them. On the mound, Burk has received innings late on varsity this spring in Cookeville. Phillips was asked to be a huge contributor for his team this Spring on the bump. Both are going to compete against anybody and challenge hitters every single time they step foot on the rubber.
The “Clarksville Gang” Eli Proctor (Clarksville H.S.), Preston Brooks (Clarksville H.S.), and Briley Hagewood (Clarksville H.S.) might be 2024’s, but these boys are going to compete against anybody. They were a part of a Clarksville JV group that went a ridiculous 19-0 this spring season. These boys know how to compete, and they know how to win. Eli, a smooth-moving OF can really swing it. He patrolled a lot of CF this spring and is continuing to come into his own with his frame. He has been really solid on the bump and will be huge for us as he continues to grow and get stronger. Preston is as smooth as a middle infielder as there is going to be. Moves really well laterally to combo it with his quick hands. He is your prototypical SS type who is going to bring a lot of leadership to the squad. Briley, a left-handed hitting swinging stick is going to be another big bat to add to an already strong lineup. He’s got the size, and the tenacity to go toe for toe with anyone.
Hard work and determination are going to help lead this group to a strong summer season. From top to bottom, all of the players know they are going to fight and fight until the very end. That’s what Coach Sanders wants though. He wants what he calls “a DAWG Mentality.”
“I would much rather have a group of DAWGS out there than a bunch of arrogant dudes with talent doing their own thing,” said Sanders. “We need to play together, be disciplined, and do things others won’t. If we embrace this mindset early, you are going to see a lot of really strong success as a team this summer.”
The young bucks in the 8th-grade class step up to the plate first in this team preview. A group built on guys who are going to bust their tails day in and day out. These guys are going to continue to thrive to become the very best versions of themselves.
“Our goal for the season is to have these guys prepared,” said 2025 head coach Tyler Maskill. “We are going to do our very best to advance them both physically and mentally. We want the head coach of their rising high school team to be amazed at their baseball IQ first as physical maturity will come as they grow older.”
That’s always the challenge when it comes to this age group, is understanding that there will be growing pains as they continue to mature over time. Nonetheless, this group is ready to make an impact early and often as the season is right around the corner.
This team is built around 13 players in all, with 12 out of the 13 all having the chance to step foot on the mound and make an impact right away. Expect huge innings from Logan Barney (Mount Juliet MS) and Chase Fernandez (Stewarts Creek MS) as both have been in the upper 70’s all spring long. Both guys showing their strength & pitchability to beat anybody. They are a nice duo to pair with Zeb Major (Tuckers Crossroads) who is your crafty lefty who can come in any spot you need him to be for this pitching staff as a whole. Let’s just call him the “glue” for the staff.
Controlling the staff behind the plate this summer season is going to belong to none other than Baylor Osborne (West Wilson MS). His ability to control the game for his guys on the bump will continue to be a huge asset for this team to succeed.
“I feel like we got a great group of young guys that can do some damage,” said Osborne. “People are going to remember what we are all about when they play us. We want everyone to fear us.”
Around the infield, we have Alexander Peck (USN) who is as athletic as anyone we have seen play middle infield. Which did not go unnoticed this Spring season when he officially got the call up to play varsity baseball on the high school team. He gets paired with the “super-twins”, in Cory & Carson Hoard (Grassland MS) who are your utility men around the field. Wherever you need them, they will go and compete in any spot for you.
Every team has to have their grinders. Pair Cade Thorne (Winfree Bryant MS) & Gabe Gray (Mount Juliet MS) together and you get just that. Both dudes are selfless, hard-nosed, and willing to do the dirty work to help the team succeed.
“Those are going to be two dudes that every coach loves to have,” said H.S. Director Matt Cohick. “They will get hit by pitches, they will work counts, they’ll do all the dirty work while staying locked-in no matter where they are in the game for their team.”
Offensively, all of these dudes are going to make huge impacts as the offense is a huge strength for this team as a whole. However, Caden Webber (Gladeville MS), Brady Burns (Eagleville), Chase Cameron (Henry County), and Cameron Obee (Ensworth) are going to be the main run-producers for this squad this season.
Caden Webber is a walking RBI machine and proved that all Fall as he finished 2nd in RBI’s on the campaign. It felt like he came up with the big hit when needed during the Fall. He’s a guy who is not afraid of the moment that’s for sure. Brady Burns just finds a barrel every time he steps in the box. As coaches, we know even if the numbers may not show in the box score, a QAB is more often than not shown when Brady Burns’ name appears.
Chase Cameron is probably the biggest secret on this team. Big strong left-handed stick who has already parked a bomb on this Spring season this middle school. The lefty stick is legit, and he’s in line to be a huge run-producer for the mafia. Cameron Obee, (brother to Devin Obee, recent Duke commit), may not look like it with his huge physical stature, but he’s the youngest on this group as he’s still a 2026 grad. He sure doesn’t play like a 7th grader though as he put together one of the more impressive Falls from a swinging standpoint.
The 2025 group is well-assembled to make a huge run in every event they play in with the versatility and depth they have at each position on the field. Their tournament schedule is no joke as they play all the way down into Hoover, AL in the WWBA National Championships, all the way up to Westfield, IN to play against some of the best teams in the Midwest at Grand Park. They are definitely ready for the challenge as they are biting at the bits to get this season rolling.
“I already have players asking me what they can do to take their game to the next level,” said Coach Tyler Maskill. “I expect a lot of growth from this summer, we will continue to grow within the game, and you never know maybe even bring back some hardware to 5 Star along with it.”
– Midsouth Staff