Coahulla Creek High School baseball coach Michael Bolen’s sadness at losing Scout Plott to graduation is ex-ceeded by his happiness that the catcher’s days on the diamond will continue at a higher level.
Plott was a “cornerstone of the program from a leadership standpoint” in the Colts’ first two years of competition, said Bolen, who believes the player will be equally valuable to his new team even though he’s joining a well-established — and successful — program at Chattanooga State Community College.
“We won 26 games in the first two years of the program, which is pretty unique and special, and he played a very valuable role in that process,” said Bolen, whose team made the Class 2A state tournament in its inaugural season in 2012 but missed out this year.
Although he sent his letter of intent to the Tigers and coach Greg Dennis earlier this spring, Plott celebrated signing an athletic scholarship Tuesday at Coahulla Creek. Plott said he had talked to several other schools but found Chattanooga State appealing for several reasons, including proximity to home, the reputation of its baseball program and his chance to earn playing time quickly.
Plott first connected with Dennis this past year while participating in a fall league hosted by Chattanooga State in which six teams played twice a week over the course of six weeks.
He made a more formal visit to the campus in January and received a scholarship offer.
“I feel like the type of baseball I’ve played fits in really well with the way the program is ran up there, with high intensity and high expectations,” Plott said. “I feel like I’ll fit in good up there with coach Dennis’ coaching style.”
A Division I member of the National Junior College Athletic Association, the Tigers have had a winning season during each of Dennis’ 10 years leading the program. They’re 34-15 this season as they prepare to begin competition in the Region 7 tournament on Friday in Gallatin, Tenn.
They finished third in the Tennessee Community Col-lege Athletic Association this year.
Bolen knows Plott has room to improve but doesn’t expect him to have trouble keeping pace with the Tigers or the demands of being a student-athlete in college.
“He’s got a 3.97 (grade point average), he was the first one in the weight room every morning, he never took a morning off in the weight room and he was the first one at practice for pre-practice jobs getting the equipment set up and ready to go,” Bolen said. “He was a leader on and off the field.”
Bolen was an assistant at Northwest Whitfield High School when Plott was a member of the team there during his freshman and sophomore seasons, before Coa-hulla Creek opened, and he said it’s been “very rewarding” to see Plott mature and improve throughout the past four years. As for his on-field skills, Bolen lauded Plott as an excellent defensive catcher who receives, blocks and throws well — few teams dared to run against him, the coach said — and also did well handling pitchers and calling games when granted that privilege.
He also hit better than .300 both of his seasons at Coahulla Creek while filling the No. 3 spot in the lineup and ran well for a catcher, leading the team with 12 stolen bases this season.
Plott said being behind the plate appeals to him because of the leadership aspect intrinsic to the position and the fact that he’s taxed with thinking not just of his duties on the present play but what could happen for everyone in the field two or three steps ahead.
“I try to do everything in my ability to help the team win and help everybody around me,” Plott said. “I try to keep everybody up all the time. That’s the attitude part of it, the mindset.”
Plott said he’s interested in studying math or business in college, and he hopes to keep playing at a four-year school when his time at Chattanooga State is done. Bolen is optimistic Plott’s play with the Tigers will receive attention and grant that opportunity to play on.
“He’s a great kid, a hard worker,” Bolen said. “He’s one that has earned it and deserves it.”