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Slemp trying to work through the waiting game

Douglas Fritz • Mar 26, 2020 at 11:00 AM

It started in December, very early in the morning.

Landon Slemp and his baseball teammates were dragging out of bed before the crack of dawn, getting to school, and working out.

“Pitchers got there at 5:15 a.m.,” said Slemp, a senior at Science Hill. “We would throw in the gym or run down to the weight room and lift.”

It was worth it, Slemp said. Even though the 2020 season was over two months away, it was expected to be a special one. The Hilltoppers made it to the Class AAA state tournament each of the last two years, but lost all four of their games in the Spring Fling.

“A lot of us thought this year we would have a chance to go back and do better than the past two times,” said Slemp, who has pitched nine innings this season and allowed only three hits and one earned run. “We were all really prepared.”

Then the coronavirus pandemic hit. Full speed ahead became sudden stop.

But Slemp and his teammates are still putting forth effort in the hope the season will resume.

“I think all of us are putting in the work we need,” said Slemp. “We’ve had a lot of rainy days, but on the days we get out we are throwing and hitting. We can’t go out on school property and practice, and we can’t do team practice. It sucks that we can’t all be together.”

When the season will resume is up in the air. With Governor Bill Lee closing Tennessee schools through April 24, the hope of postseason play appears to be the only glimmer at this point.

TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress said Tuesday the extended school closing date would not prevent his organization from keeping its options open to hold the state basketball tournaments and the Spring Fling.

Slemp said he believes the Hilltoppers could be ready to go in short order, even with a month layoff.

“If we had a full week of practice, I think we would be good,” he said.

If it comes down to postseason play only, Slemp didn’t seem to be overly excited about it. But he said he would be willing to accept it.

“I mean, I guess so,” he said. “When you get through playing regular season games and you get to the district tournament, that’s when you want to be playing your best ball. But if they give us time to get some practices in, it would be fine.”

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