Tifton Gazette


May 27, 2014

Devil players, coach in all-star games

TIFTON — Baseball season for the Tift County Blue Devils officially ended recently in the state Class AAAAAA playoffs, but for two members of the team and head coach Kyle Kirk, the season will live on this weekend in the form of senior all-star games in Columbus, sponsored by the Georgia Dugout Club.

Blake Suggs and Deviner McCray are the Devil duo who were invited to be part of the Southwest Region team. McCray spent most of his time pitching for the team while Suggs has been a fixture at first base. Kirk is one of four coaches for the Southwest squad.

"It's a wonderful way to top off a great year," said Kirk, who in two years at the helm has seen them make the sweet 16 this year after a trip to the state quarterfinals in 2013.

Originally, there were to be three Blue Devils on the club. Slugger Alex Abbott was also invited, but will be unable to attend because Kirk said he has been invited to pro workouts. He hates not to have him, but is understandably more than willing to excuse this absence.

The Southwestern crew participate in the first game of the series, playing the Northeast team at noon Friday. Saturday, they play two games, one against Northwest at 11:30 a.m. and a final game against the Southeast at 4:30 p.m. All games will be played at Golden Park and other activities are also scheduled, including a home run derby and a banquet.

The selection process for the roster was one of nomination. Of course he said, "I nominated all mine." The committee opted for the three. The roster was released recently, but Kirk knew of his selection several months ago. He said David Smart, one of the coordinators of the southwest region, informed him the second week of the season.

Suggs and McCray have been an integral part of Kirk's squads. "Dev and Blake have been leaders since I got here," he said. "Suggs is a quiet leader, one of our horses."

Of his No. 1 starter in the playoffs, he said "Dev had a great year. He's become the kid we always knew he would be."

Kirk said he would not be surprised if either goes on to a pro career. Both have signed scholarships to play collegiately, McCray with Gulf Coast State (Fla.) and Suggs with Young Harris College.

Joining him in the dugout will be Bill Pate (Crisp County), Chuck Cheek (Schley County) and Luke Jernigan (Marion County). Danny Redshaw of Lowndes is slated to be one of the coaches for the Southeast team.

In other Devil hardball news, Kirk said pitcher/infielder Zack Bullard has been shut down for the summer. "It's a strain, nothing major," adding that everyone wants to be cautious.

The Tift coach has also been presiding over summer practice sessions and said that he had about 60 kids working out from sixth grade to seniors. His schedule will continue to be busy as the Blue Devils host a baseball camp next week.

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Jensen Rainey (left) and Josie Arant will both be participating in the U.S. Kids Golf World Championship next week in North Carolina.

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