Thomas making his mark as a sophomore in experienced lineup

Jacob Steimer

Bearden’s baseball team features eight seniors this year, most of whom have been together since middle school, a couple since almost birth. However, it might be the sophomore from the private school that puts the Bulldogs over the top and into a position to make it to Murfreesboro for the state tournament. Lane Thomas, who transferred into Bearden from Webb before his freshman year, has arguably the most talent on the whole of the team. “He has tremendous speed,” Bearden Coach Jack Tate said. “He has excellent power; he hits for average; he’s a quality outfielder; he can play the infield; and he’s one of our top four or five pitchers. “He really has all of the tools.” With all this pure talent, Thomas has already gained the attention of big time college recruiters. This can often be a distraction to many young players. “There are a lot of Division 1 college coaches who are aware of him and are going to recruit him, but so far it hasn’t been a distraction,” Coach Tate said. Thomas says he’s trying not to think about and that he got some good advice from the seniors who have already been through the trying process. “It could (get to him) a little bit,” said senior captain Derek Lance, who will play for Tennessee next year. “When I was going through the recruiting process sometimes, some games, I’d press a little bit and try to do too much, but as long as Lane keeps a level head on his shoulders and goes out there and does the same thing every game whether there are twenty scouts there or whether there is none, he’ll be fine.” While they have similar talent levels, Thomas’s baseball career certainly started differently from how Lance’s did. Thomas didn’t come out of the womb cheering for the Yankees. “Honestly when I was little, my mom had to make me play baseball,” Thomas said. “Then I played basketball and baseball, and I just kind of fell in love with baseball.” Perhaps a better comparison for Thomas is Bearden sophomore Jack Graham who played a key role on this year’s basketball team. The two have become incredibly tight. “We have talked about (our similar situations),” Thomas said. “I told him how cool it is, him playing on such a high power basketball team, Bearden being known throughout the state and him starting most of the games.” This year, Thomas will start just about all of the games for Bearden baseball, including in the Bulldogs’ spring break trip to Miami. “He’ll play a major role in being our everyday center fielder and also being a major part of our lineup,” Lance said. This role may seem like a lot to put on the shoulders of a sophomore for a team with state tournament goals. However, Thomas deserves it according to his captain. “That’s a credit to not only the trust Coach Tate has in Lane, but also the playing ability Lane has, that he can be trusted as a sophomore,” Lance said. “I would trust him any day out there being our center fielder. “He’s a lot more mature than just a sophomore. He plays like he’s a senior.” Bearden will need him to. They’ll also need some play out of their actual seniors, both of which they’ve gotten in the first few weeks of being on the baseball field. “It’s been the best first three weeks of practice we’ve ever had a Bearden High School; we have not had a bad practice yet,” Coach Tate said. This doesn’t mean that they’ve reached their peak, though. After all, three weeks isn’t much time to iron out the finer points of the game. “We always need work,” Coach Tate said. “We need work on technical things: plays, signs, things like that, but the chemistry has been great. The players themselves have told me that the chemistry on this team is better than it’s ever been.” And that is what will get this team through the season, the pureness of its cohesion. “We’re like a bunch of brothers out there,” Lance said. “We have little disputes, but we always have each others’ backs.” As the Bearden baseball family looks to make a run to Murfreesboro, it may be the play of the younger brother that determines their fate. Jacob Steimer is the sports editor for The Bark. Follow The Bark on Twitter @BeardenBARK, and like The Bark (Bearden High School) on Facebook.