TIFTON — Tift County High’s baseball program held its annual banquet Monday evening at Tifton’s First United Methodist Church.
The managers were the first to be honored at the banquet. Supporting the teams this year were Ragen Lasseter, Gabi Heard and Maddie Grace Kirk. After head coach Kyle Kirk presented them with plaques, he turned to his assistant coaches. He praised the amount of work they did, especially as “They put up with an irritable head coach.”
The teams were the next to be honored.
Kirk called the name of every ninth grade and junior varsity player. He said they had an excellent season and were very competitive.
Ninth grade awards were presented to Bowen Becton as Most Outstanding Pitcher and Cody Williamson, who earned both Most Outstanding Offense and Most Outstanding Defense.
Junior varsity winners were Luke Dorman as Most Outstanding Pitcher, Cam Sumner as Most Outstanding on Offense and Charlie Miller as Most Outstanding on Defense.
“A great group,” said Kirk, reminding the Blue Devils they would be back to work practicing this Tuesday.
Varsity introductions began with seniors Tyler Gay, Thad Weldon, Trey Barfield, Joseph Pittman, Cory Frazier, Jake Pettis and Parke Johnson. Kirk then named juniors and sophomores.
All-Region awards were announced. Gauge Domingue merited honorable mention. Second team went to Mason Avant and Owen Manning. Pettis, Weldon and Pittman were first team selections.
The first individual award was for Most Outstanding Pitcher, which went to Pittman. Kirk said Pittman, who earned a scholarship to play for Augusta University, “Has not hit his ceiling yet.”
Manning, a junior, was the pick for Most Outstanding Offense. Manning led the squad in runs batted in for the 2019 season. Weldon won for Most Outstanding Defense. Kirk said he was proud of the “young man he developed into.”
Colby Gann won Tift’s academic award.
The final individual was the Zach Kirk Award.
Coach Kirk said the winner of this special honor did not have to hold the highest GPA. The award was given to someone Kirk would have wanted his late son, Zach, to be like.
It was “hard to choose when you have a tableful of awesome young men,” said Kirk. The past two years has seen a scholarship added to the award.
Weldon was named the Zach Kirk Award winner.
Kirk said goodbye to his seniors and presented each with a gift. A baseball was emblazoned with what he referred to as the Tift County standard, which formed the acronym, “ a winner,” and based on the verse Matthew 19:27. Kirk also reminded them of the team’s wolfpack mentality, that each member of the pack has his own unique role.
Further advice from Kirk was to keep their intensity, that family is forever, to “embrace the suck,” to sacrifice for a brother, retain the “ability to grind,” to punch the timecard every day and “to be comfortable being uncomfortable.”
“It’s only impossible until you do,” said Kirk. “This is a special group to me. You’re like sons to me,” he said. He added to “Absolutely call your mama and daddy at least once a week.” They can also call him anytime.
Senior players presented gifts to the coaches.
The meal for the banquet was provided by Gay’s Food.