By: Andrew Mindeman/Director of Athletic Communications
LOOKOUT MOUNTAIN -- Only COVID-19 could put a temporary hold on the momentum that the Covenant baseball program had built up from the end of the 2019 season and into the early portion of 2020.
Hitting, pitching, and defense were all clicking for Covenant in 2020 and its band of seniors helped lead the way as the Scots looked primed to climb back up the ladder in the USA South before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
Though some seniors plan to return in 2021, as the NCAA granted an additional year of eligibility for seniors in spring sports, five players have decided to call it a career and leave the Mountain to pursue their next calling. Ken Alexander, Jackson Heuer, CJ Edmond, John Sherrod, and Ben Walsh helped form a new era of Scots baseball, both on and off the field.
Coming off a strong ending to 2019, Covenant was off to an 11-4 start in 2020 thanks in part to an explosive offense. Dubbed the #LookoutLaserShow by assistant coach Paul Phillips, the Scots ranked first in Division III in doubles (47), while being second in runs (163), walks (103), and on-base percentage (.465). The team scored 20-plus runs in a game twice during the year for the first time in program history, and set team single-game records for homers, doubles, and extra-base hits in the season.
Edmond and Alexander were a part of the offensive onslaught.
From Alpharetta, Ga., Edmond was a three-year player for the Scots and was enjoying his best season in 2020. The lefty hit .373 with three home runs and 21 RBIs with a .522 on-base percentage and a .706 slugging mark this year. Edmond had a knack for being patient and drawing walks as he set a program single-game record with five against Emory on Feb. 29 after receiving a program season record 34 in 2019.
"CJ could change the game with just one swing of the bat and everyone knew it," said Phillips. "But more than that, CJ was a leader who played and worked as hard as anyone, if not harder. His passion for excellence, the game, and his teammates could be seen in everything he did. He was a huge catalyst for the blue-collar mentality of this team."
Edmond was a 2018 All-USA South honorable mention selection and ended his Covenant career with a .305 career average with 10 home runs, 69 RBIs, 78 runs scored, and 62 walks.
Like Edmond, Alexander was also having a breakout season at the plate. From Charlotte, N.C., Alexander was always a standout defensively at catcher but added a threat with his bat as a senior. Alexander hit a career-best .303 with a home run, 10 RBIs, and 11 runs scored -- all of those career-highs -- in the shortened season. His on-field presence was seen by all, but his impact went beyond that for the program.
"Ken never complained and embodied servant leadership, constantly leading the catchers through different workouts and investing in all the underclassmen," noted Phillips. "He was a pillar of this team and a huge catalyst behind the culture turnaround in this program."
Alexander is a two-time USA South All-Academic selection and was Covenant's representative on the USA South All-Sportsmanship team last year.
That offense aided the pitching staff and Heuer was one of those recipients in his senior year.
From Flushing, N.Y., Heuer went from a relief pitcher to the Friday starter on the Covenant staff during his career. After going 5-3 as a starter in 2019, Heuer was off to a fast start in 2020 with a 2-1 record and a 10.71 K/9 rate in 21 innings. He struck out a career-high eight twice this year in wins over Emory & Henry and Averett.
"Jackson was a competitor in every sense of the word," said Phillips. "Keeping his emotions in check in order to execute the task at hand and consistently working off the field to hone his craft, Jackson stepped up in his career as someone the team could depend on to get the job done."
Heuer threw 112.1 innings over 32 appearances in his four years as a Scot and tallied eight wins and 66 strikeouts.
Sherrod and Walsh saw limited action on the field in their careers but played key roles in continuing to develop the team's culture.
From Mobile, Ala., Sherrod made four appearances last season, including two scoreless innings of relief in just his second career appearance.
"John made an impact on this program far more than just his appearances on the bump," noted Phillips. "He has exemplified consistent character and integrity his four years at Covenant. He went about his work with quiet confidence. But more than that he was a great teammate and will do good work as he starts his career in the medical field."
A converted infielder, Walsh ended up making an impact on the mound as he appeared in 14 career games. From Stanfield, N.C., he made a career-high 13 relief appearances as a junior in 2018 and was 1-0 with a save in 17 innings of work. Walsh is a two-time USA South All-Academic honoree.
"Ben's impact this program, however, goes far beyond his appearances on the mound," added Phillips. "He has served as an excellent example to his teammates as a servant-leader and a man of integrity."
With the foundation set, and a loaded roster expected back next year, the Scots are primed for future success. These five seniors made sure of that.
CONNECT WITH THE SCOTS
Be sure to follow the Scots all season long on athletics.covenant.edu and on social media at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for up-to-date scores, news and other information. To receive e-newsletters, click here