CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Brian Hetland has been around baseball for a long time.
The Clarksville High head baseball coach spent 18 years as an assistant coach at the college level, in the dugout at Austin Peay State University, and he’s been on recruiting trips, talked with young high school phenoms and been around talent that has left impressions.
And Hetland would rank his pitching ace, Donny Everett, up there among the best he’s ever seen.
Tuesday morning, Everett received an award that would justify what Hetland saw in him all along. Everett was named the inaugural winner of the Class AAA Mr. Baseball award, given to him by the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association before the start of the state baseball tournament in Murfreesboro.
“To be in 3A and to be considered Mr. Baseball with the number of great players in this state from east and west is something special,” Hetland said. “But it’s a credit to Donny’s record on the mound the past two years and his offense. He hit over .400 this year at the plate for us, and to me it was a slam dunk getting this award.”
Hetland said Everett thought the award might go Ravenwood High School’s Bryce Denton. Denton joined Everett and Farragut High School’s Patrick Raby as the 3A finalists for the award.
“All of them are Vanderbilt commits,” Hetland said. “Of course, Donny has signed but they all know each other and have played against each other. It’s a huge, big day for Donny and his family and for the Clarksville High program. We’re all really proud of him.”
The 6-foot-3, 235-pound right-hander finished the season with a 0.92 ERA and 118 strikeouts while going 9-0 for the Wildcats during the regular season. Clarksville High finished as the regular season District 10 champions and the tournament runner-up with an overall record of 30-11. Everett also hit .423 on the year with a pair of home runs and 34 RBI.
“I’m just glad he’s had a healthy, happy high school career,” Hetland said. “I know he’d rather be pitching in this state tournament.”
Hetland compared Everett’s physical tools to that of San Francisco Giants pitcher Matt Cain and retired Boston Red Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers star Josh Beckett.
“Those are the closest guys that I can think of who Donny reminds me of,” Hetland said. “I saw Matt Cain throw when he was 16 years old and in high school. I saw Josh Beckett throw as a sophomore in high school. Donny has similar arm strength and consistency, and we’ve never had one in Clarksville that has thrown with that kind of velocity and strength. That’s what makes him one of the top 30 or 40 players in the world considered for the early rounds of the Major League draft.”
The draft will be early next month, and scouts have already talked about Everett’s pitching skills.
“They’ve told me that they know what they are going to get with Donny, and that’s a big plus for him,” Hetland said. “He’s going to throw in the mid-90s each time. That’s what makes him special in terms of what these Major League scouts like. There’s a lot of guys who can throw just as hard or maybe harder, but are you going to get that velocity each time. With Donny, you do.”
Even as the draft nears, Hetland believes Everett will honor his commitment to Vanderbilt. Everett acknowledged when he signed with Vandy late last year of the possibility that he could be drafted. He also expressed his desire to go to school.
“You never know what will happen with the draft,” Hetland said. “He’s very committed to going to Vandy, and he and his family like the college route. There are options out there for Donny, but it would take something extraordinary for him not to go to Vanderbilt.”
George Robinson. Prep writer. 245-0747. Twitter: @Cville_Sports.