Saluqis conquer academic goals in spite of COVID-19
The 2020 season for Southwest’s baseball and softball teams was cut short by the Coronavirus pandemic, but it did not derail student-athletes from continuing their education.
Although a difficult time for both coaches and players, many decisions were made in light of an uncertain future. Sophomore players were hit particularly hard regarding which direction to take as some will continue their education and baseball or softball career at four-year colleges or universities, while others have opted to continue their education but not play a sport, and a few may return to Southwest for another season of eligibility.
The baseball team played 19 games, and the softball team played 22 games, which is barely a third of their schedule. Disappointingly, both teams only played two of the nine scheduled Tennessee Community College Athletic Association (TCCAA) series, yet each team had the potential for outstanding seasons. Due to a ruling by the National Junior Athletic Association (NJCAA), the 2019-20 season will not count against athletes’ eligibility.
Both teams ended the season with winning scores on the field and in the classroom.
Softball and Baseball Team Highlights
The following sophomores signed with four-year colleges:
Saluqi Baseball Team
- Darrius Bomer, an outfielder from Lexington, Tennessee, who transferred from Bethel University, was the team's top hitter among every game starter with a .320 batting average and .469 on-base average.
- Hunter Hudson, a first baseman from Trenton, Tennessee, who transferred from Jackson State Community College, batted .298, led the team with 12 runs and batted in and tied for the lead with two home runs.
- Jared Kirkman, an infielder from Harding Academy in Memphis, batted .258 and was second on the team with 11 runs batted in.
- Jackson Little, an infielder/outfielder from Houston High School in Memphis, batted .250, led the team with five doubles and tied for the lead with two home runs.
- Addison Carmack, a catcher/first baseman from Ripley High School in Tennessee, batted .214 and was one of the team leaders with a .926 fielding average.
- Cole Howard, a catcher/infielder from Covington High School in Memphis, was second on the team with 10 walks and was also among team leaders with six stolen bases and a .323 on-base average. Howard has signed with Ecclesia College in Springdale, Arkansas.
- Austin Gentry, a catcher from Lewisburg High School in Mississippi, batted .400 in 20 at-bats, was one of the team leaders with a .984 fielding average and led the team with eight runners caught stealing.
- Nick Johnson, a left-handed pitcher from Munford High School in Munford, Tennessee, led the pitching staff with 26 innings and six games started and was second with 25 strikeouts. Johnson has signed with the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, Ohio.
- Conner Hobbs, a right-handed pitcher from Memphis University School, was second on the staff with two wins and third with 20 strikeouts. Hobbs has signed with Bethel University in McKenzie, Tennessee.
- Andrew Feola, a right-handed pitcher from Westminster, Colorado, who transferred from Joliet Junior College, appeared in four games including two starts and struck out eight batters in 8-1/3 innings. Feola has signed with Point University in East Point, Georgia.
- Tanner Kimminau, a right-handed pitcher from Arvada, Colorado, who transferred from Northeastern Junior College, appeared in six games, all in relief, and struck out five batters in 5-1/3 innings.
- Evan Crenshaw, a right-handed pitcher from Evangelical Christian School in Memphis, appeared in four games, all in relief, and struck out five batters in five innings.
- Jared Shelton, a right-handed pitcher from Collierville High School in Collierville, Tennessee, appeared in four games, all in relief, and struck out nine batters in just five innings, an average of 16.2 strikeouts per nine innings which led the team. Shelton has signed with the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky.
Lady Saluqi Softball Team
- Ta'mya Johnson, a graduate of Brighton High School in Tennessee and transfer from Delta State University, was the lead-off hitter and centerfielder. She batted .321 and led the team with two triples and 12 stolen bases. She will play next season at Grambling State University in Grambling, Louisiana.
- Blakeleigh Garrison, one of three players from Marion High School in Arkansas, was a two-year starter at shortstop and batted second in the order. Garrison led the team with a .493 on-base average and was second on the team with a .414 batting average.
- Jennie Bryant, from Independence, Mississippi, batted third in the order and played third base and first base. A first team All-TCCAA infielder as a freshman, Bryant batted .410, led the team with 22 runs batted in and tied for the lead with six home runs.
- MaKayla Pugh, a catcher/third baseman from Munford High School, was the cleanup hitter. As first team All-TCCAA catcher last year, Pugh led the team with a .417 batting average and hit three home runs.
- Haley Cook, the second Marion High School graduate, started as catcher and on first base. Cook batted .338 and tied for the team lead with six home runs, five of those coming in the last week of the season.
- Shelby Carpenter, the third Marion High School graduate, was a utility infielder and played primarily second base. Carpenter batted .308 with three doubles.
- Maria Maxwell, from Collierville High School, also started at second base, splitting time with Carpenter. Maxwell batted .250 and was one of the top fielders on the team with a .925 average.
- Lily Soverns, from Smyrna High School in Tennessee, led the team and ranked second in the conference with a 1.89 earned run average.
- Destiny Upton, from Montevallo High School in Alabama, led the pitching staff with 33 strikeouts and 14 appearances. She led the nation with eight saves last year as a freshman.
A complete list of student-athletes from all of Southwest’s athletic teams who have signed-on to four-year colleges will be available soon.
National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athletes
Six members of the Lady Saluqi softball team received the National Fastpitch Coaches Association All-America Scholar-Athlete award. Congratulations to sophomores Shelby Carpenter, Haley Cook, Blakeleigh Garrison and MaKayla Pugh, and freshmen Madison Norris and Ashton Mauldin. To qualify for the award, students must achieve at least a 3.5 grade point average (GPA) for the 2019-20 academic year. Blakeleigh and Ashton each had a perfect 4.0 GPA!
Student-Athletes Graduating with Degrees
Congratulations to all the student-athletes for their resilience to stay in the game and complete their education goals. We proudly recognize thirteen student-athletes who received their associate degree in spring 2020.
- Cole Howard
- Hunter Hudson
- Tanner Kimminau
- Nathan Ruble
- Justin Batts
- Clythus Griffith
- Josh Kelly
- Stephanie Gregory
- Jaelyn Royal
- Jennie Bryant
- Shelby Carpenter
- Haley Cook
- Blakeleigh Garrison
Saluqi 2020 Season Softball Sophomores
Saluqi 2020 Season Baseball Sophomores
Scoop - May/June 2020