By Cullen Smiddie
Coach Greg Dennis has been coaching baseball for the Chattanooga State Tigers for 11 seasons, and in those 11 seasons, he and his teams have had tremendous success. His Tigers’ baseball teams have been ranked within the top 25 in the nation in the NJCAA (National Junior College Athletic Association) in six of the past seven seasons. Such successes set the standard bar for the future teams to come and Coach Dennis believes this team, albeit young and inexperienced, has the potential to live up to the expectations.
The Chattanooga State Tigers baseball team finished last season with a 38-15 record overall and 15-10 in TCCAA (Tennessee Community College Athletic Association) Region VII conference play. Last season, the Tigers finished with a record well over the .500 mark, but they fell short of their perennial goal of a conference championship. Coach Dennis had this to say when asked about the expectations for the coming year, “Every year, our goal is obviously to win a conference championship. This team is young, but talented, and our success this season is going to depend heavily on the adjustments we make throughout the season.” Speaking toward the youth of Coach Dennis’ team, there are 21 freshmen on the roster this year and only six sophomores. Out of the six sophomores on the roster, only one of them figures into the pitching rotation and that is left-hander Tyler Troutt, who has already signed with Middle Tennessee State to play for the Blue Raiders next year. He figures to be the No. 1 pitcher on the mound this year, and the rest of the rotation will comprise of all freshman.
Trout and the Tigers will need help in other positions in order to stay competitive at the level they have set for themselves, and a few new players that have transferred from other programs will be there to help. First-baseman Michael Goss, a redshirt freshman from Samford University will be playing for the Tigers this season along with second/third-baseman Brandon Day, a sophomore from La Salle University. They should factor in to play big roles on the Tigers team this year. If the Tigers are to win the TCCAA Region VII Conference Championship, the road to the championship will surely pass through conference and perennial power Walters State. Walters State looks to be the biggest obstacle to traverse in the quest for a conference championship, as the Senators are preseason ranked seventh in the NJCAA. With all of that being said, Coach Dennis knows where his team sits as one of the best in the conference and he and his Tigers baseball team plan to prove that this season starting on Jan. 31st with Georgia Perimeter College coming to visit for the opener. Conference play will begin Feb. 21st with Columbia State here on the Chattanooga State campus.