Ooltewah's Fugate Signs Baseball Grant With Cleveland State

Becomes Fourth Player From District 5-AAA To Join Cougars

Tuesday, June 17, 2014 - by Larry Fleming

Logan Fugate, Ooltewah’s No. 1 pitcher and second-leading hitter during the 2014 season, signed a scholarship on Monday to play baseball at Cleveland State Community College.

Fugate becomes the third Owls senior to sign a grant – Brody Binder will attend Troy University and Kyle Kapherr is going to Carson-Newman.

“I knew I wanted to go to junior college because I feel like I need to get bigger and stronger,” Fugate, a left-handed pitcher, said Tuesday afternoon. “Cleveland State was about the only school that talked to me. I heard a lot of good things about their coach (Mike Policastro) and program and pretty much knew what they needed for next season.

“I’m ecstatic for this opportunity. Last season didn’t pan out like we thought it would and I was devastated. I was really hoping for a chance to play at the next level.”

Fugate was the Owls’ “Monday starter” this past season for coach Brian Hitchcox, which meant he normally pitched against the opposing team’s top pitcher in District 5-AAA play.

Fugate didn’t disappoint.

He appeared in eight games and posted an 8-2 record with a sparkling 1.02 ERA. Fugate worked 48 innings and gave up 34 hits and seven unearned runs. He struck out 56 and walked 16.

As a junior, Fugate pitched against some of Ooltewah’s toughest non-district foes, such as Middle Tennessee powers Tullahoma and Oakland.

“And he held his own against those teams,” Hitchcox said.

While Fugate is also an outstanding center fielder, the 18-year-old will likely get an early shot on the mound with the Cougars, who went 27-23 this past season and compete in the Tennessee Community College Athletic Association.

“They need a left-handed pitcher so that’s what I’m looking forward to doing early on,” Fugate said. “They’re in good shape in the outfield.”

Fugate’s summer coach, George Koontz, lined up a bullpen throwing session for Fugate and Policastro was there to see him. The Cougars’ coach, who just completed his 18th season and has a 610-429 record, liked what he saw and invited Fugate back for an open tryout.

After the workout Fugate met with Policastro and the two worked out a scholarship plan.

“I told him I’d love to play for him at Cleveland State and he told me he would send the papers to me in a few days,” Fugate said. “I got the papers and signed Monday.”

Policastro, whose Cougars ended their season with two losses to Motlow State in the TCCAA Region 7 tournament, agrees that Fugate’s pitching prowess may get him on the mound before he plays in the outfield. However, the coach clearly likes Fugate’s versatility.

“In Logan’s case, a left-handed pitcher is always at a premium,” said Policastro, who played and later coached at Tennessee Wesleyan College – at 23 he was one of the nation’s youngest coached when hired at TWC in 1985. “He throws in the mid-80s and has a good breaking ball. Right now we’re looking at him as a pitcher, but we’re going to play it by ear about him playing a position. He’s good enough to do both.”

Fugate went 38-for-94 this season – the hit breakdown was: 25 singles, 10 doubles, one triple and two homers – for a .404 batting average. He drove in 18 runs, scored 38 and struck out just 13 times.

Hitchcox saw much progress from Fugate from the time he arrived at Ooltewah as a “raw hitter and pitcher” to the time he finished his senior season.

Halfway through his sophomore year Fugate earned a spot in the outfield on a team that won the district tournament and lost to Warren County in the Region 3-AAA semifinals.

At that time Fugate hit near the bottom of the lineup and got in a couple “good outings on the mound,” Hitchcox said.

Hitchcox’s willingness to expand Fugate’s role for the Owls came quickly in 2013, giving him a steady starting outfield job and the role of non-district mound ace.

“He was batting leadoff by that time, too,” Hitchcox said. “He had a really good year. And we knew coming into this year he would be our shutdown, number one guy, hit at the top of the order and be our leader on the field for sure.”

Now, Fugate has a chance to hold those same roles with the Cougars, who have won one Eastern Division title, had eight second-place finishes and two state and region runner-up finishes in 1996 and 2005.

Policastro is confident Fugate has the skills to become a solid contributor to the Cougars program and gives him a good chance on making an impact on the program right away.

“We had a chance to see him a couple of times during the season,” the coach said. “He’s athletic and I liked him as a two-way player. We were able to bear down on him in the tryout and his physical tools are really good. Logan plays with a passion and I always like that in a player.

“He’s what we’re looking for. Once we get him in camp and over an extended period of time we’re probably going to like him more and appreciate him more.”

Policastro has coached 20 players who have gone on to play professional baseball and more than 200 who have signed four-year scholarships.

So, he knows good, young talent when he sees it.

Fugate is quick to credit Hitchcox with his overall improvement after four years in the program.

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be coached by anyone else,” Fugate said. “He taught me more baseball than anyone ever will and he’s a great person. As a freshman I knew the basics of baseball. But the little things he taught me were amazing.”

Fugate becomes the fourth local player from District 5-AAA to sign this spring with Cleveland State, joining Soddy-Daisy teammates Christian Amos, Ryan Mahaffey and Caden Ricketts.

(E-mail Larry Fleming at larryfleming44@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)


UTC Women Edge Morgan State

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga women’s basketball team used a 17-0 run in the second half to pull away from Morgan State and grabbed a 55-40 win on Day One of the Chattanooga Christmas Classic. Sunday at Home at 2 p.m . The Mocs improve to 8-3 overall and will host North Carolina A&T Sunday afternoon (2 p.m.) while Morgan State drops to 2-9 on the year and will ... (click for more)

Summit Defends Title At Charger Invitational Wrestling Tournament

The Summit Spartans made school history a year ago when they claimed first place in the Charger Invitational   for their first-ever wrestling tournament championship. The AAA team from Spring Hill proved the first time wasn’t a fluke as they outlasted Red Bank and 19 other teams in the field as they won this year’s tournament at Chattanooga Christian School on Saturday ... (click for more)

2 Suspects Sought In Armed Robbery At Highway 153 Long John Silver's

Police are searching for two suspects in an armed robbery that happened Friday morning. At approximately  8:10  a.m. the Chattanooga Police Department responded to 5317 Highway 153 for a robbery at the Long John Silver's.  Officers discovered that two black men, wearing hoodies and masks, entered the Long John Silver's and forced the assistant manager ... (click for more)

Pair Charged With Beating Man With Stick, Taking His Wallet

Two men are charged with beating a man with a large stick while he slept on the steps of a downtown church, then taking his wallet. Jerry Quincy Allen, 45, and James Leo Boas, 40, both of 727 E. 11th St., are charged with aggravated robbery. In the incident on Wednesday, Bradley Casehart said he and a friend were asleep at Tompkin Chapel Church on Palmetto Street. He ... (click for more)

Please Don't Close The Piccadilly Cafeteria At Hamilton Place - And Response

Oh, no. The Piccadilly Cafeteria at Hamilton Place is closing.  Its last day is Christmas Eve.  I will miss the great food they have there but most of all I will miss their servers, cashiers and waitresses.  They are all so friendly and accommodating.  They make it like it’s a home-style restaurant. I sure wish there was some way that Hamilton Place and ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: ‘Scrooge’ Of The Year

As we move into the last weekend before Christmas, the “Scrooge of the Year” has just appeared in Aurora, Ill. Actually Connie Ley has just died. She passed away on Nov. 25, but in her wake left the worst will many around the country have ever heard – her last wishes included that her nine-year-old dog should be put to death, cremated, and buried with her. Bela, a beautiful German ... (click for more)