Two pitchers from the Shoals who were each picked seventh overall in their respective MLB Draft classes are making progress toward what they hope will be major league baseball careers.
Brax Garrett, a 2016 graduate of Florence High, was selected seventh overall by the Miami Marlins and is currently pitching for the Jupiter Hammerheads in the Class A Advanced Florida State League.
In his most recent outing June 18 against the Palm Beach Cardinals, the left-handed Garrett allowed four hits, three walks and one run over five innings to earn his second win of the season. His ERA was as high as 5.27 in late April, but he has since lowered it to 3.21.
Garrett missed last season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery.
Ryan Weathers, a 2018 graduate of Loretto High, was selected seventh overall by the San Diego Padres last year and is pitching for the Fort Wayne TinCaps of the Class A Midwest League. He is 2-2 with a 3.64 ERA.
The left-hander gave up four earned runs on a season-high eight hits over three innings in his last game Friday against Great Lakes, but he held Lake County to an unearned run over three innings in his previous appearance.
Puckett gets four more Division I offers
Muscle Shoals basketball player Sara Puckett has added four more scholarship offers so far this offseason, the latest coming Thursday from recent national power Mississippi State.
That brings the rising junior’s total of scholarship offers to 25 (all in NCAA Division I) according to the Twitter feed of her AAU team, the Alabama Southern Starz.
Georgia Tech (May 22), Tennessee (May 31) and South Florida (June 4) have also offered Puckett this summer.
Coach Vic Schaefer’s Mississippi State team reached the Elite Eight last year and finished as national runner-up the two previous seasons. Tennessee has a new coach this year, Kellie Harper, tasked with restoring the Lady Vols’ championship tradition.
A 6-1 forward, Puckett got her first scholarship offer two years ago from North Alabama.
She has also collected offers from Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina State, Old Dominion, Ole Miss, Purdue, South Alabama, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin.
Puckett, who also plays volleyball, was named the TimesDaily’s high school female athlete of the year for 2018-19 at a banquet earlier this month.
Hamilton has new baseball coach
Trent Williams, a 2010 graduate of Phillips and 2014 graduate of UNA, is the new head baseball coach at Hamilton.
Previously at Hamilton he has coached middle school baseball, B-team basketball and worked with wide receivers and defensive backs on the football team. He has also worked at Florence and middle Tennessee schools Ravenwood and Page.
“It means a great deal,” Williams, 27, said of getting his first varsity head coaching job. “I know the kids real well. Every kid that’s on the varsity baseball team, JV baseball team, I know. I love those kids. I want what’s best for them.
“I’ve already met with them and laid out expectations.
Hamilton won nine games last season and Williams believes the Aggies need to work on their plate approaches and mental toughness.
“In certain instances where things have gone wrong, it’s sort of snowballed.”
Tanner Smothers and Williams’ brother, Trey, both 24, will help coach, and Trent Williams said the young staff “will not be lacking in energy, I can promise that.” Despite playing in Class 5A, Area 14 with Russellville, Lawrence County and West Point, Williams said he plans for Hamilton to make the playoffs.
“I want us to scratch and claw and find ways to win baseball games,” he said. “I think the program’s in a really good spot.”
Florence grad headed to West Alabama
Former Florence High softball player Presley Witt signed this past week to play softball for Gulf South member West Alabama, UWA announced on its web site. She is a utility player.
Witt played for coach Brian Shollenberger at Florence and then spent last season at Snead State Community College. She made the TimesDaily’s all-area softball first team as a high school senior.
Three from Brooks pick colleges
Hayden Walton got all he wanted out of his last high school postseason as the starting catcher for Brooks’ 2019 Class 4A state championship team.
But his college future remained up in the air until a recent phone call.
Shelton State Community College head baseball coach Bobby Sprowl called Walton to let him know there would be a spot for him on that team, and Walton committed recently to head to Tuscaloosa and play for Shelton State.
“It was an answered prayer when everything ended up working out,” Walton said. “I felt everything would work out in the long run if I was just patient and waited.”
Walton, outfielder Lake Spurgeon (Columbia State C.C.) and second baseman Brett Urban (Wallace State C.C.) all recently committed to college baseball programs.
“It took a lot of weight off my chest for sure,” Walton said. “It’s a good program and they’ve sent guys to the next level.”
Walton carried a .390 batting average with eight extra-base hits into the late rounds of the postseason. He was involved in one of Brooks’ more memorable plays of the year, fielding outfielder Thorne Tapp’s throw in the quarterfinal round against Haleyville and tagging out a runner to end the game.
He plans to major in criminal justice and eventually enter law enforcement.
Spurgeon is excited to shift from right field to center.
“I like it. It gives me a little more ground to cover,” he said.
He hopes to get better hitting fastballs, which will be more advanced from college pitchers. Part of the reason he chose Columbia was to get started working toward being an X-ray technician.
Spurgeon, who also played football and basketball, took a .351 batting average into the late rounds of the postseason and starred in the Lions’ clinching game three win over Hokes Bluff in the semifinals.
“It’s unbelievable really, looking back at it, the things that had to go our way,” he said. “It’s a great group of guys I wouldn’t trade for anything.”
Urban carried a team-high .430 batting average with 11 doubles and a triple into the early rounds of the playoffs. He was also a prominent guard on the Brooks basketball team.