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UCHS graduates shine for Unicoi Raiders

Who says the season ends after you graduate?
Several Unicoi County High School graduates have joined Unicoi County’s Raiders baseball team.
Austin Arrowood and Coty Vanhoy are two of the most recent graduates from the Blue Devil baseball program and join the Unicoi Raiders, who currently participate in the Greene County Adult Baseball League.
“They're great baseball players,” Raiders coach Andy Slagle said. “We have fun in the dugout. Coty has done a great job for us pitching and Austin came up big for us in his first game by hitting a homerun for us.”
The Unicoi Raiders (9-0) have become an outlet for baseball players around the area of Erwin and Unicoi to continue their slugging dreams and not have to settle with slow pitch softball, as the Raiders' skipper eluded to.
“We always go out here to have fun, of course we want to win,” Slagle said with a chuckle. “But the main thing is to give people a chance to continue playing the game they love, without having to settle for something less.”
The talent is widespread throughout the league.
“With us being one of the better teams, we'll always see a team's best,” the Raiders' coach explained. “Whether it's someone throwing in the mid-low 90s or teams putting power on their lineups, they keep it tough on us, but it's fun.”
The talent can be found on the squad from Erwin as well, including local Blue Devil greats.
“(D.W) Whitson and (Logan) Rice have came through big for us throughout the year,” Slagle said. “It's always big for them because they pitch in college, and this gives them the chance to actually take a few cuts at the ball.”
Off-season training is something big with regards to the Raiders.
“Some of these guys are collegiate baseball players,” Slagle said. “And of course the worst thing to do in the off-season is nothing, so we try to be there to help players continue their play, without having to slow down until their seasons start up.”
Rice, who currently pitches for the East Tennessee State University baseball squad, is one case of a player who is continuing superb playing after a collegiate season is over with, by joining Boo Marrow as one of the two tops pitchers on the Unicoi team.
“Having a 16-strikeout performance always help confidence,” Slagle said. “But he's been a big help for us and we hope we're helping him as well by giving him a chance to continue pitching while during the off season.”
No matter what, at the end of the day, the Raiders are there for fun.
“We go out to every game and have a good time,” Slagle said. “We may win a game 15-0 or lose one 2-1, no matter what though we always try to have a great time. Whether it's cutting up with the guys in the dugout, giving someone a hard time after a strikeout, or even cheering on a player after a homerun – it's all about having fun.
The 2012 Raiders' squad will be looking for possible new players as well, as Slagle said.
“It always varies over the years, sometimes guys can't make it and there a lot more teams within the league next year, so if someone is looking to continue playing baseball, we're here.”
The Raiders opened up play on Monday, July 11, against the Colts, after The Erwin Record's press deadline.