Turner DeVore was hired as Knoxville High School’s head varsity baseball coach late in 2019. He had prior experience and spent last season as an assistant coach to Matt Miller, who had to move on from Knoxville for family reasons.
DeVore and his team began throwing Sunday nights in January. With the other sports going on, family obligations, etc., attendance has been hit-and-miss. But there have consistently been over 10 ballplayers ready to work each week.
All of this is intended to plant the seeds to help restore Knoxville Baseball to its glory days. DeVore wants to build a scrappy, tough team that the South Central Conference – and any other opponents – dread seeing across the diamond.
“I want people to not like us,” DeVore said. In the time he’s been with Knoxville, he has heard from opposing coaches, as well as those assisting him who once played for the Panthers, how good Knoxville was in every aspect of the game.
Helping him out this winter are Assistant Coach Ryan Leisure, who spends a great deal of time working with catchers, and Brian Hatch – who was a good Panther hurler in his day.
At this point, it looks as though the Panthers will lean on younger players to take the mound. DeVore is glad to have several players, but there is not much game experience among them. He’s going to lean on veterans such as Ben Olson, Carter Bailey and Mike Hudson to work with the underclassmen and bring out their best.
With the winter sports season winding down, DeVore anticipates that most of his team will take part in spring sports, to help them limber up for baseball season. What’s most important to him, however, is that these kids take time to be kids and make time for their families. Baseball will take a lot of time and dedication, with 38 games on the Panthers’ schedule so far.
This includes a game at Principal Park against Ames, set for June 24 at 11 a.m. Knoxville has to sell at least 300 tickets for this game. Ames is stepping up a class for the Panthers, but DeVore believes it will be a fun, competitive game.
DeVore is excited for the season to get here. He is proud of the players who have come to these voluntary workouts to improve their game and be ready to be competitive on day one. They’re a good group of kids, he says, and he is glad to be a part of the Knoxville Baseball tradition.
“It’s something special with the history and tradition,” DeVore said. He intends to bring out the history books, compiled by Joel Johnson and Steve Mott, to show today’s players how good Knoxville Baseball can be. “That’s special, I think.”