Blackburn wins MVP in Legion title run

Friday, July 27, 2012
Cornersville's Cody Blackburn (9) is flanked by Columbia Post 19 assistant coach Ray Daly, right, and head coach Lee Williams, left. Photos submitted

Cornersville's Cody Blackburn, who will be entering his senior year with the Bulldogs, took home MVP honors last weekend in Tullahoma for the Columbia Post 19 junior baseball squad that captured their fourth straight American Legion State title.

Blackburn played first and third base for Post 19 and put up some impressive offensive numbers with a .615 batting average in the tournament, while driving in seven and scoring three times.

"Cody was really swinging a hot bat," said Columbia Post 19 head coach Lee Williams. "When he had his opportunities at the plate, he drove in the runs."

American Legion Post 19 and Cornersville teammates Matt Callender (22) and Cody Blackburn (9) pose with the state tournament trophy after Columbia Post 19 defeated Tullahoma Post 43 8-2 Monday night in the championship game.

Post 19 went undefeated in the tournament, capping off their four-year dominance with an 8-2 win over Tullahoma Post 43 in Monday's championship game.

Along with his MVP hardware, Blackburn will also receive a $500 scholarship check at the American Legion Banquet in Nashville in February.

"Cody did everything I asked him to do this summer," said Williams. "He is just a hard-nosed ballplayer."

In his junior season at Cornersville, Blackburn also put up some big offensive numbers for the Bulldogs with a .395 batting average, eight walks, six doubles, one triple, three home runs, 21 RBIs, 11 runs scored, a .456 on-base percentage and a 605 slugging percentage.

Williams said, "My understanding is that Cody is a pretty good football player too. If he continues to work hard at baseball, there is no doubt in my mind that he could play at the next level for a JUCO squad or NAIA team."

Also on the Post 19 championship squad was Blackburn's teammate at Cornersville, Matt Callender.

"Over the years, we have gotten several kids from Cornersville and they have really helped us out," said Williams.

Callender had a nice summer at the plate and on the mound, winning some ballgames on the hill for Columbia, but his biggest moment came in Monday's title game when he came on in relief in the sixth inning with runners on second and third and no outs.

Callender gave up one hit before retiring the side on two groundouts and an inning-ending strikeout that preserved the lead for Post 19.

"When Matt had his opportunities, he performed at his best in tough situations, especially in that sixth inning of the championship game when we needed those outs," said Williams.

Post 19 finished the season with a 28-19 record, but did not come into the state tournament as the favorite to win.

"Nobody really expected us to win it this year," said Williams. "There were a lot of people doubting us. We did have our struggles during the summer, but this group came on strong at the end and just got the job done."

Williams added, "Overall, we have had a good run and I hope it can continue."