With the world at a standstill in its current state, the landscape of Middle Tennessee sports will come out of isolation with more action than it did when it entered.
Tucker Ward of Ward Performance, a baseball training facility in Gallatin, is debuting a brand new summer ball league starting this June.
The Music City League is dedicated to helping collegiate ballplayers across all levels improve their craft.
“(We want to) give back and help some kids and their development and help them earn college scholarships,” Ward said. “The facility just kept growing and growing and growing and a lot of college guys started coming in. They were like, ‘Man, why don’t you have a summer league here so we can play and train?’”
“We just kind of figured it was something to be done to help guys out. There’s a lot of college athletes from this area that want to come home for the summer so they can play and work on their craft.”
With Nashville being a destination city home to a Triple-A baseball team and one of the premier college programs in the country in Vanderbilt, Ward and league general manager Mike Lautzenheiser got to work on bringing the wishes of their athletes to reality.
For any league to survive, they must have three things.
First is a facility. With Ward Performance, that first box was checked instantly.
“We’re seeing a lot of big jumps, especially with our pitchers,” Ward said. “A lot of the top high school guys in the area train at Ward Performance. The average pitcher is hitting a 5.6 mile per hour increase right now. We’ve got a junior in high school at Station Camp that’s up to 99 miles per hour already. We’ve got one that’s up to 93.”
Second: they needed players.
Through the laundry list of athletes already going through their facility and the connections that Lautzenheiser had made as a travel ball coach, they were able to accumulate enough talent for four teams. They’re currently sitting on a waiting list that, if filled, will warrant a fifth team in the league.
Players across all collegiate levels – Division I, Division II, NAIA and junior college – are already signed up from schools including Trevecca, Western Kentucky, Middle Tennessee State, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Vol State, Cumberland, Balding (Ark.), Northwest Mississippi, Western Carolina and more.
That only leaves one order of business: a field.
So far, the league has secured a playing space at Station Camp High School and is currently in talks with other schools and colleges in the area.
With everything in order, they are preparing for Opening Day, which is currently scheduled for June. Ward is confident that the date will not change despite the current COVID-19 pandemic.
A full schedule will be posted online soon and spectators are welcome at all games.
Any players interested in becoming involved with the Music City League can contact them at MusicCityLeage@wardinc.org or on Instagram and Twitter -- @MusicCityLeague. From there, they can fill out a Google Form. Players will be placed on the teams which figure to be the best fits for them.