Dean's List: Overton’s Norton wants his luck to change for tourney

Thursday, May 7, 2009 at 2:47am
Overton's Colt Norton was saddled with a pair of nagging injuries, but is racing back just in time to catch his team's tournament stretch run. Mike Strasinger for The City Paper

Colt Norton is due for a change of luck.

The Overton High centerfielder is battling his way back from not one but two hamstring injuries which have plagued his progress his senior year.

Quiet, respectful and low-key, the rangy 6-2 speedster had been depended upon as one of the key ingredients for Overton baseball success as the Bobcats are gunning for another District 11-AAA title this week.

“In an early-season game, I was rounding second and as I headed to third, I felt something pop in my left leg. It turned out I had pulled my left hamstring. I had to miss 2-3 weeks,” Norton said earlier this week. “Once I got back in the lineup, it wasn’t long before I pulled my right hamstring, and I had to miss some more games.

“At that point, I was asking myself why this had to happen my senior year."

The fleet Norton has speed to burn, which is an asset, not only as for legging out infield hits but also tracking down deep fly balls hit in the alleys. But for much of the season, he’s had to watch from the sidelines.

“One of my strengths is my speed and getting on base," Norton said. “Once I do, guys hitting right behind me like Connor Moore and Mookie Betts can knock me in.’’

Coach Mike Morrison, whose team ended the regular season at 24-7, and district champs at 12-2, recalled Norton’s bum luck.

“He got pulls in both legs, one not long after the other," Morrison said. “He’s a guy who is an excellent bunter, can steal 30-35 bases and has great range in centerfield.

“It was a real blow, taking out our leadoff man. When we brought him back, we batted him fifth as the designated hitter. We don’t want to rush things too much, because we sure don’t want him injured again," he added.

Asked what he remembered most of his first impression of Overton baseball, when he first came out, Norton said, “Coach Morrison is very business-like, and he makes it clear we want to win district every year. There’s no joking around.’’

Meanwhile, Norton wants to return to that equation.

“Last Monday, before the tournament started, he came up and said he was ready to go," Morrison said. “Hopefully, he can return to full speed."

In his first two at bats upon returning, Norton lined out hard to right, then laced a double his second time up.

Norton and pitcher Cole Patterson, whom Norton calls his best friend, have signed with Dyersburg State.

‘All the way for Doc:’
With the passing of famed basketball coach Joe Shapiro last week at age 98, it brings back memories of one of the most remarkable Cinderella stories in Nashville high school sports history.

Shapiro was coach of the 1954 West High state championship team, which is remembered for its miracle run through the tournaments. It included four overtime games, including two in sudden death, which was in the rules at that time.

In the region tournament at Lipscomb, West trailed Donelson by two points, and guard Ralph Greenbaum was fouled at the final buzzer. Having to make both shots or lose the game and with no one on the foul line, Greenbaum made both. West then won the game in overtime.

West won its state quarterfinal and semifinal games against Lake City and Memphis Treadwell, both in overtime. The Blue Jays won the state crown with a 42-40 finals win over LaFolette at Vanderbilt after West had trailed most of the way. Guard Jimmy French made an amazing hook shot near the foul line, then later dribbled out the final seconds to preserve the win.

The team carried the slogan “All the Way for Doc" (West principal Doc Yarbrough) throughout the tournaments. He was ill on the night of the finals but managed to get to the game at halftime. His entrance into the student section sparked an amazing emotional lift for both the team and its fans.

At age 93, Shapiro attended a 50th reunion party in 2004 at Hillwood Country Club, which included some of the team members and West students. Hall of Fame broadcaster Larry Munson, who did the finals game, was emcee. It was West’s fourth and final state title and Shapiro’s first.

Shapiro later went on to work for The Tennessean before retiring. Notable players on the team included French, who coached at BGA, Greenbaum, who became a prominent physician, and former Hendersonville coach Eddie Greer.

Hillsboro’s Brakefield, Heyne decide:
Hendrix Brakefield, who punted for a 40-yard average for state champ Hillsboro, has decided to attend Western Kentucky where he is considering walking on for the Toppers. Tackle Christian Heyne will attend MTSU but won’t play football.

Eisen shines for Columbia:
Former MBA baseball standout Jon Eisen, competing for Columbia University (N.Y.) has been named Ivy League rookie of the week for the second time after going 11-for-13 in a season-ending, three-game series with Penn.

Eisen, a freshman, was named co-rookie of the week after the Penn series in which he went 5-for-5 in the second game. With a single, double and triple, he just missed hitting for the cycle. Eisen, who became a starter in preseason when the regular outfielder sustained an ACL injury, raised his final average 43 points to .331.

Antioch’s Tipton to MTSU:
Antioch standout Jasmine Tipton signed this week to play volleyball at MTSU, becoming the first female athlete from the school to sign a DI volleyball scholarship. She was District 12-AAA MVP for the district champ Bears.

Ryan’s Marchetti signs: Two-time state champion Patrick Marchetti of Father Ryan has signed to wrestle at Army.

Freudenthal’s friendly foe: When Ezell-Harding recently met CPA in softball, it marked a matchup between Jennifer Wright Martin (CPA) and her former coach at Ezell, Don Freudenthal.

“It’s the first time I’ve ever gone against a former player who was a head coach," he said. She was a five-time all-state pitcher and was on Ezell’s 12th and last state title team in 2001.

Track coach Williams retires: Veteran track and cross country coach Wayne Williams, who has coached strong teams at Antioch, Glencliff and M.L. King, has announced he will retire at the end of the school year after 38 years.

He and wife Penny will move to Henderson in Chester County where he will take on his new hobby of riding horses.