The Tennessee Temple University baseball team wears red and black, but the roster will have a decidedly peach-tinted hue to it over the next few years.
The Crusaders have been actively recruiting the northwest Georgia area in recent weeks, and on Monday head coach Greg Bartley picked up a pair of Walker County standouts in Gordon Lee graduate Tanner Sexton and LaFayette alum Micah Wyatt.
The duo will join the likes of Carter Gillian (Dalton), Bradley Travis (LFO), and Cole Ellis (LFO), who recently signed to play for the Crusaders.
“We recruit north Georgia heavily because there are a lot of good players down here that sometimes get overlooked,” said Bartley. “It’s pretty neat that we can sign both Tanner and Micah on the same day just right down the road from each other.”
Sexton played on the Trojans’ varsity for four seasons and started behind the plate for the past three. He batted .394 as a senior with seven doubles, two home runs, 32 RBIs, 36 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases while striking out just seven times all season.
Those numbers, and his leadership behind the plate, helped the Navy-and-White to a 30-win campaign and a Class A public school runner-up finish.
“It’s always been a dream to get to play at the collegiate level, and baseball has always been my favorite sport,” Sexton said. “This is really one of the happiest moments of my life. (Tennessee Temple) is a great Christian school. I’m going there for sports, but also for the spiritual side of it and to get a good education. It’s going to be a great place for me.”
“I’m tickled to death for him,” said Gordon Lee head coach Mike Dunfee. “I think Temple is a place he’ll fit in and have a chance to contribute right away. You couldn’t ask for a better kid, and ability-wise, he’s one of the best catchers I’ve seen all year anywhere. Temple is getting a steal. He’s a player that can hit any caliber of pitcher and that’s something college coaches look for when they recruit.”
Bartley said Sexton fits a need for his team.
“I was looking to sign a catcher or two, and we like to sign local kids so it’s just awesome how it all came together,” he explained. “He probably could have gone a number of different places, but us being a Christian school interested him. He wanted to come to Temple and we wanted him here. We’re excited to have him.”
Sexton wants to major in education with designs on one day becoming a high school coach and math teacher.
Wyatt was a standout on the mound, at shortstop, and at the plate for the Ramblers for the past four years. He hit a robust .438 in his senior season with 12 doubles, three triples, and 16 RBI’s. He also scored 21 runs and swiped 11 bases.
On the hill, Wyatt went 6-3 with a pair of saves, striking out 57 batters in 57 innings with a 3.44 ERA.
“This day means a lot,” Wyatt said. “I look forward to taking my talents to Tennessee Temple and playing college ball. I’m glad to see a bunch of people here supporting me today, especially my coaches, who have done a lot for me.”
Bartley said he liked Wyatt’s athleticism, adding that he would pitch and likely play in the field when not on the mound.
“We try to sign guys that can play multiple positions as well as swing the bat, that way we can carry less players on the roster and be able to give out more scholarship money,” Bartley said. “Micah also found us and said he also wanted to play and go to school in a Christian environment. It’s a win-win for us.”
“I like the coaches and the competition with Temple now that they are (NAIA) Division I,” Wyatt added. “I like the campus, and I’ve already met some of the guys on the team. They all seems nice and friendly. It’s always good to have a bunch of players from this area. I’ve faced a lot of those guys the last few years, but it’s going to be great to play with them for the first time.”
LaFayette head coach Mike Shank said the Crusaders would be getting a very good player in the former Rambler.
“He’s a very strong, athletic young man that will fill in very well at Temple,” Shank said. “He’s a good hitter and pitcher and he’ll get to do a little of both up there. It’s a small, Christian school and I think it’s a good fit for him.”
Wyatt plans to study biology with an eye on a career in physical therapy.