Tennessee High standouts coming to King

BRISTOL, Tenn. - King College recently added two players to the 2011 Tornado Baseball signing class with Tennessee High School products Chase Cunningham and Stephen Mullins.

Cunningham comes as a right-handed pitcher and infielder while Mullins will be an infielder.

Both were All-Big 8 Conference selections a season ago and play for head coach Gil Payne at Tennessee High.

"From a recruiting philosophy at King we want to keep at home the best local talent in the Tri-Cities and southwest Virginia at home," King head coach Mac McClarrinon said. "In this early signing period we have stayed at home locally and have gotten two of the best players in our area with Chase and Stephen.

Cunningham had a 7-3 record last season with a 3.38 ERA. He led the Vikings with five complete games and 58 strikeouts. At the plate he owned a .383 average with four home runs and 36 RBIs.

"In Chase we have a young man that wanted to be a part of our program for a long time," McClarrinon added. "First and foremost he is another great student athlete that we bring to King to succeed in later life."

McClarrinon also noted, "Chase has a great future on the mound. In recruting Chase we saw a young man working in the mid to upper 80's and touching 90. With hard work and dedication Chase will become a big part of our pitching staff. We might be just scratching the surface with his ability and potential."

Mullins led Tennessee High with a .477 batting average, 34 runs scored and five home runs. He drove in 31 runs and added a dozen doubles. On the mound he went 7-1 with a 2.18 ERA and mixed in 55 strikeouts.

"In Stephen we have a young man whose father Darrell played baseball for the Tornado," McClarrinon said. "It is exciting to keep the tradition going with alumni and their families as we get Stephen ready for later life in our baseball program here at King."

McClarrinon added about Mullins "Stephen was one of the top players in the Big 8 Conference last season. He was a big part of Tennessee High's run last season as a fixture in the three hole. In a true sense of the word Mullins is a baseball player, he can flat out square up the baseball. He will have the opportunity to compete early in his career on the left side of the diamond."

King opens the 2011 campaign Feb. 5 with a doubleheader at Francis Marion (S.C.) University. The Tornado went 29-16 a season ago with a trip to the NCCAA Division I World Series after winning the NCCAA Mid-East Region Championship.

"In closing I would like to commend my assistant coaches; Blaine Brown and Bryant Baines; in their recruiting efforts with these fine young men," McClarrinon closed with. "We are building something special here at King on and off the field through hard work and dedication and they are a big part of our success."