Bulldogs eye return to region tournament

Friday, March 6, 2015
Cornersville senior baseball players (front row, left to right) Justin Black, Chance Dyer, Blake Calahan, (back row, left to right) Curt Taylor, David Looney, Hunter Talley, and Tate Lowery look to lead the Bulldogs to their third straight Region tournament appearance. Tribune photos by Louis G. Scheuchenzuber

Coming off two of the most successful seasons in the history of the program, the Cornersville Bulldogs hope to make another deep playoff run during the 2015 campaign with the help of seven returning starters from last year's squad.

In 2013, the Bulldogs captured the District 11-A tournament title en route to advancing to the Class A State Tournament for the first time in the history of the program. Cornersville followed up that magical playoff run by finishing second in the District 11-A tournament last year before falling to a strong Summertown team in the first round of the Region 6-A tourney.

Big goal: Region

"I think the first goal this year is to get out of our own District and make it to the Region tournament. If we can win the District, that would be even better. Our next goal would be to make it back to the State Tournament," said CHS coach Ben Putman.

Cornersville senior pitcher David Looney has compiled an 18-5 record on the mound over the last two seasons.

Senior pitcher David Looney has been a big part of the Bulldogs' playoff success the last two seasons. As a sophomore, Looney posted a 9-2 record and 2.16 ERA while piling up 107 strikeouts over 74 innings of work. Looney was particularly impressive during the playoffs that year, as he finished with a 5-0 record, posted a 1.87 ERA, and tallied 47 strikeouts over 30 innings during the postseason en route to leading Cornersville to the State Tournament.

Top pitcher

The hard throwing left-hander then bettered those numbers his junior year by notching a 9-3 record, registering a 1.80 ERA, and racking up 134 strikeouts over 74 innings while holding opponents to a .165 batting average.

A two-time All-State selection, Looney throws his fastball in the mid to upper 80s, but can also locate an array of off speed pitches to keep hitters off balance. Although he has received some interest from some Division I college programs, Looney is expected to sign with Columbia State Community College this Spring.

"David has a great mentality. He's very confident and thinks he can get anyone out. He wants the ball in big situations and doesn't back down from pressure," said Putman.

Looney has also improved as a hitter over the years and finished with a .344 batting average and 15 RBI last season. He will play one of the corner outfield spots or first base when he isn't on the mound.

Cornersville catcher Aaron Fox earned All-District honors last season after recording a team best .358 batting average and driving in 29 runs.

Battery power

Junior catcher Aaron Fox will be Looney's battery mate for the second straight year. An All-District selection last year, Fox is a solid defensive catcher with a strong arm, but is a threat at the plate as well after tallying a team best .358 batting average and 29 RBI last year.

Senior Tate Lowery will be the Bulldogs' starting shortstop for the third consecutive season. Lowery is one of the best athletes on the team and is an excellent fielder with a strong arm. He is also a good contact hitter and is vying to be Cornersville's number two pitcher this year.

Senior Curt Taylor and younger brother Ben Taylor (Soph.) will likely start at first and third base respectively. Curt provides the Bulldogs with a big target at first base and will see time in CHS' pitching rotation, while Ben is a good fielder and is expected to be an impact hitter for Cornersville this season.

Chance Dyer started at second base for the Bulldogs a year ago, but Putman plans to move the scrappy senior to the outfield this season. Dyer works the count well and led the team in hit by pitches last season with 10.

Second base

Junior Colby Downs and eighth grader Graham Duke could both see time at second base. Downs didn't play as a sophomore, but is rapidly improving and has shown potential as both a hitter and a fielder.

Duke is a good athlete that is capable of playing any of the infield possessions. He is also an advanced pitcher for his age and will help bolster the Bulldogs' rotation.

Senior Hunter Talley will patrol centerfield for Cornersville this season after playing left field last year. Tally can cover a lot of ground in the outfield and breaks on the ball well. He has shown a good work ethic during the off season as well and is expected to be an improved hitter this season.

More options

Junior J.D. Crabtree made several starts in the outfield last year and will help shore up the back end of Cornersville's pitching rotation. Crabtree has good movement on his pitches, but needs to improve his command.

Blake Calahan (Sr.), Justin Black, (Sr.), Cody Caneer (Jr.) Michael Allen (Soph.), Carson Walker (Soph.), Zack Blackwell (Fr.), and Will Vanhooser (Fr.) will also be competing for playing this year.

"This is a good group. They like each other and get along. They don't have any negative personalities and work hard. Sometimes I actually have to run them off so that I can go home at night,' said Putman.

With Looney leading the Bulldogs' pitching rotation, Cornersville should once again contend for the District title, but will have to supplant defending champ Columbia Academy while Culleoka, Mt. Pleasant, and Richland are all expected to be improved this season.

2015 Cornersville Bulldogs baseball schedule

Date Opponent Location Time

March 9 Santa Fe Away 4:00

March 10 Santa Fe Home 5:00

March 12 Wayne County Away 5:00

March 13 Wayne County Home 5:00

March 16 Mt. Pleasant Home 5:00

March 17 Mt. Pleasant Away 5:00

March 19 Moore County Away 4:00

March 20 Fayetteville Home 6:00

March 23 Hampshire Away 5:00

March 24 Hampshire Home 5:00

March 26 Moore County Home 5:00

March 31 Grace Christian Academy Home 5:30

April 2 Eagleville Away 1:00

April 3 Eagleville Home 1:00

April 6 Columbia Academy Home 5:00

April 7 Columbia Academy Away 5:00

April 9 Loretto Away 6:30

April 10 Loretto Home 4:30

April 13 Richland Away 5:30

April 14 Richland Home 5:30

April 20 Culleoka Away 5:30

April 21 Culleoka Home 5:00

April 23 Fayetteville Away 7:00

April 24 Grace Christian Academy Away 7:00

April 28 Middle Tennessee Christian Home 5:30

April 30 District 11-A Tournament TBA TBA