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By GOOSE LINDSAY
When David Lane left the Rockwood High School baseball team after the 2006 season to become an assistant coach at Roane State Community College, he left behind perhaps the most talented class in school history in the senior class of 2008.
Lane, however, had a sneaking suspicion that he would cross paths with some of those players again at the collegiate level and his premonition was right on the money as Thursday morning Rockwood seniors Bryant Allen, Shane Doughty, Zach Duncan and Beau Mayton all signed their letter-of-intent to play for the Raiders.
“They’re (signings) all important, but this is special for me,” Lane said after the signing ceremony at Rockwood High School. “I’ve watched these guys grow up and now I’ll get to watch them enter a new phase of their life. This will be important for them both for baseball and for their education.”
While Lane is happy to be reunited with his former players, he says the decision that Raider head coach Larry Works made about offering the scholarships had nothing to do with a Tiger stroll down memory lane.
“This is very important for Roane State,” Lane said. “We know what kind of talent these guys have and what it can do for the program we’re trying to build. It helps that they know my style of coaching and I have a good relationship with them, but we want them to help us win games.”
Rockwood head coach Joey Cofer is also thrilled with the quartets decision to become Raiders.
“I’m ecstatic to have four of them signing at one time,” Cofer said. “They’re going to be back with coach Lane and he’ll treat them right. I couldn’t be happier.”
Allen, Doughty, Duncan and Mayton all admit that playing for Lane again was a big reason in their signing with the Raiders, but it wasn’t the deciding factor. Friendship was the biggest reason they are staying together.
“It’s big that we know coach Lane and what he expects,” Allen said. “We know he’s going to treat us right.”
“I’m thrilled,” Doughty added. “I get to play with my teammates and we won’t have to worry about fitting in as much. I’ll be with the boys again.”
While all four come from the same school, all four will have different roles with the Raiders.
Doughty is a power-hitting outfielder with a strong arm. Last season, Doughty cranked out 18 home runs and he has 41 round trippers in his three years as a Tiger.
“Shane has two of the tools that it takes to be successful,” Lane said. “He has a good strong arm and consistent power.
“He’ll start out in the outfield, but we may put him at a corner spot (first or third base) to make him a more attractive player down the road.”
While Doughty has been labeled as purely a free-swinging power hitter, he is quick to point out that he doesn’t swing for the fences.
“My swing isn’t a home run swing,” Doughty said. “I just try to hit the ball where it’s pitched and hit it as hard as I can. The power comes from hitting line drives.”
“Shane’s had a power swing from his freshman year, but we haven’t had to change anything because he’s got a good eye for the baseball,” Cofer added.
Like Doughty, Allen also swings a mean stick, although his home run totals aren’t as high as Doughty’s.
“Shane may hit it farther, but nobody hits it harder than Bryant,” Cofer said. “He knocks the devil out of the baseball and he’s as tough as they come.”
“Bryant will give us increased power at the plate and a good glove in the field (third base),” Lane added. “Plus he’s got a tremendous work ethic and that killer instinct that you have to have at this level.”
“I think my biggest thing is my average,” Allen said. “I’m not a home run hitter, but more of a line drive, gap hitter. My role is to get on base and get extra base hits. I’ll let big boy (pointing at Doughty) drive them in.”
While Allen and Doughty have been recruited more for their offense, Mayton has been signed for his abilities in the field at second base. Although Lane and Cofer are quick to point out that he doesn’t receive enough credit for his ability as a hitter.
“Beau’s one of the best defensive players we’re ever had at Rockwood,” Cofer said. “He covers a lot of ground and he knows what’s going on out there.
“He’s quiet at the plate. He doesn’t hit it as far as a lot of the other guys, but he never strikes out and he always gets on base. He’ll end up hitting .400 and stealing 20 or so bases on the season.”
“Beau’s as solid day in and day out as anybody you’ll see,” Lane added. “He’s got a real solid glove and an incredible work ethic. Plus he’s got a left-handed stick and that’s always a plus.
“He’s one of those guys that will work hard everyday and make his own breaks.”
“I just want to contribute where I can,” Mayton said. “I feel I do pretty good in the field and I know where I stand as a hitter. I just try to get on base and let the other guys bring me in.”
Unlike Allen, Doughty and Mayton, Duncan’s main concern won’t be hitting a baseball or necessarily catching one. His main goal will be throwing strikes and getting hitters out.
“I try to keep hitters off balance,” Duncan said. “I throw five pitches pretty good, but I fell my off speed stuff is best. I know I’ve got to get my velocity up and my control needs to get better.”
“Zach has the ability to throw three different pitches for strikes on any count and that’s big,” Lane said. “Right now we’re projecting him as a middle reliever, but he could be a starter by the spring of his freshman year. He’s really smart and he’s a competitor.”
“Zach’s overall work ethic is great,” Cofer added. “He’s really put the time in to be a good pitcher. He’ll be throwing in the mid 80s or better by the middle of the season.”
While the quartet of Tigers are looking forward to their playing days at Roane State, they know they have unfinished business at Rockwood this season and that unfinished business is trying to win a state championship.
“We want to win the district and region, but winning the state is pretty much our main goal,” Allen said.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do though to get back to Murfreesboro (home of the state tournament),” Doughty added. “But we all believe we can do it.”