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Burnett signs with New River

Hunter Burnett’s mean swing has him heading up river in Virginia.
The 2014 Blue Devil graduate ended a successful baseball career at Unicoi County High School and will continue his playing career at New River Community College, based in Dublin, Va., after signing on the dotted line during a ceremony hosted at UCHS on Thursday, Aug. 7.
It was an easy decision, according to NRCC head coach Wes Adcock, after hearing from Burnett’s summer league baseball coach Steve McMillan.
“The biggest thing was Steve McMillan, his summer league coach,” Adcock said. “He got a hold of me and told me about Hunter. I picked up two of Steve’s boys the previous year and one of them was the leader in batting average and RBIs.
“So, if Steve says he can hit, I believe,” Adcock said with a laugh. “It worked with us last year. We needed a little more power – we only had one home run in 48 games last season – so it bolsters our hitting, our RBIs and hopefully helps us win a few more ball games.”
Burnett had McMillan to thank for the chance to join the Muskies.
“I played travel ball for Steve and he knew I wanted to go play baseball so he was finding a place for me to go,” Burnett said. “Coach Adcock previously signed players from Steve, so I went down to visit and he wanted me to play.”
Burnett was part of a six-member senior class last season for the Blue Devils, under head coach Charlie Baxter, that came within a game of making a trip to the state tournament. The Blue Devils finished as district and regional champions.
Burnett posted a batting average near .400 his senior season and played at catcher along with first and third bases during his career in Erwin.
“His position is still up in the air; he probably won’t have to catch since this season. I recruited five catchers unknowingly so we’re set there,” Adcock added. “We’re going to try everything this fall and see where he falls. He’s such a versatile guy, he can play first, third and I know he can pitch a little.”
Along with the success during the season, Burnett also picked up Tennessee MVP honors during the 2014 TN/VA FCA all-star game during the summer.
“I look at New River and hope to use it stepping stone to help build on the skills I have and work really hard the next two years and hopefully continue my career,” Burnett said.
Burnett is the fifth member of the Blue Devils to sign collegiately following the conclusion of last season. With NRCC part of the NJCAA, Hunter will see Connor Simpson (Roane State), Austin Green and Ethan Rice, both at Walters State, during the 2015 regular season.
“I’m really proud of my team,” Burnett said. “We had five of the six seniors sign with people so I’m proud them. I’m looking forward to playing against them, I really am.
“I’m hoping we get to scrimmage Walters State in the fall, see (Austin) Green and get a hit off him,” Burnett said cracking a grin. “So I’m excited and I’m happy for them.”
The new member of the Muskies has fond memories of his time at UCHS and also left parting words for incoming athletes.
“My teammates, football and baseball … in both sports, they were family to me. Where I live far away and those guys are basically my brothers and I’ll never forget them,” he said. “You can’t have a lazy mindset, you have to go in whatever sport you play and work to the fullest. If you work hard and do what you got to do, good things will come.”
The incoming class of freshmen at NRCC features 13 athletes, including seven from the state of Tennessee.
“The school started from scratch 15 years ago as a club team and we joined the NJCAA three years ago,” Adcock said. “Basically we’re slowly moving up the conference list. First year we were 12th, next year 11th, last year 10th.
“One-third of my team will be from Tennessee,” he added. “We’re trying to catch up with Walters State. A lot of these guys have friends that play for Walters State, so it’ll be a fun experience. We’re just looking to get the interest out and make our way through the conference.”