The Howard baseball team opened their season with a double-header sweep of district foe Brainerd. Led by six seniors – four of whom are playing in their first year for the Hustlin’ Tigers on the diamond – the program has been built on family and hard work over the past four years by head coach Jon Johnson.
“Whether we win every ballgame or we don’t win one, these kids will look back and have a family,” Johnson said.
“When we’re on the field, there’s great comraderie, and we’ve been able to establish tremendous continuity and culture. Setting wins and losses aside, I just really enjoy being around these kids.”
Emeterio Ramirez: Catcher
Ramirez is the only four-year senior on the Hustlin’ Tigers team. Prior to playing his freshman year, he had never played baseball before. However, as a junior he was named to the All-District team. He went 6-for-8 in the two wins over Brainerd.
“I’ve never had a kid in my 11 years of coaching work as hard as Emeterio has,” said Johnson. “When he first came to me, he’d never even picked up a baseball. By the end of last year he’d made the All-District team. His trajectory is just starting, and we’re hoping that he can find a place to play at the next level.”
Ramirez’s story is one of incredible growth and hard work, and can’t be done justice in just a couple of paragraphs. Please check back on Saturday for a full-length feature on this tremendous young man who has had one of the most significant athletic transformations across sports in our area.
Jarquell Wooten: First Base
Wooten was a stand-out football player for the Hustlin’ Tigers and, wanting to try his hand at baseball, joined the program for his first year playing baseball. He was the football co-defensive player of the year for Region 2-4A, and also the defensive MVP of the inaugural Scenic City All-Star Classic this past December.
Curtis Jackson: Shortstop/Pitcher
This is Jackson’s first year playing baseball as well after teammate Ramirez encouraged him to come join the team prior to the season. Hitting at the top of the order for the Hustlin’ Tigers and playing middle infield, Jackson also served as the team’s second hurler.
“Curtis tells me every day at practice that he wishes he’d played ball since his freshman year,” said Johnson. “Out of 43 times that I’ve kept attendance at practices or workouts, he’s only missed once because his grandmother passed away. He’s incredibly dedicated, and has created a family here in our program.”
Mekhi Jones: Outfield
Jones transferred from a school in Birmingham, Alabama, and wants to be an actor. He is in the theater department at Howard, and plays in the outfield for the Hustlin’ Tigers.
Jamarcus Thirkhill: Outfield
Just the second returning senior on the team, Thirkhill enters his second season on the diamond. Another two-sport athlete – he also played for Howard’s football team – Thirkhill helps anchor the Hustlin’ Tigers outfield.
Adrian McGhee: First Base/Outfield
McGhee is yet another football star coming out for his first year of baseball. On the gridiron, the big man was everywhere, playing on the defensive line as well as at tight end. He has signed with Maryville College, where he will continue his football career.
The Chattanoogan Senior Spotlight series highlights local prep seniors whose seasons have been put on hold due to the unprecedented situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are associated with a high school spring sports team and would like your seniors featured, please encourage the coach to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, share this article and others like it from this series on social media using #ChattanooganSeniorSpotlight.