McKinney nabs statewide honor in college baseball

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff

   Garth McKinney has always been known as a fine hitter, and his recent selection in the MLB Draft has solidified his position among local baseball greats.
   But a recent accolade from the Tennessee Baseball Coaches Association has added some new hardware to the trophy case.
   McKinney was selected as the 2002 College Player of the Year, by the TBCA and hopes to represent the award well by delivering another fine season, "It feels good to be acknowledged," McKinney said. "It makes all the work worthwhile."
   McKinney delivered in the clutch last season for the Walter's State Senators. McKinney finished the season with a .473 batting average, slugging 15 home runs and over 80 runs batted in.
   According to Willie Church, local member of the TBCA, the award brings recognition to a whole new level, "It's the most prestigious baseball award in the state of Tennessee," Church said. "The TBCA is truly a great organization."
   Moving into the Detroit Tigers organization after the draft, McKinney has experienced a new set of challenges and is tackling them with the same determined work ethic, "I have to stay positive, not get down on myself, and keep working," McKinney said. "I just want to know that I did the best I could."
   Despite his recent success, McKinney looks back on his college career with kind words for his teammates, "I would not be the player that I am today if it weren't for them," McKinney said. "It's always good to know that people are behind you, pushing."
   With a chance at dreams ahead, McKinney has a solid attitude in place to move up quickly, "Right now I don't know where I'll end up," said McKinney. "I try not to think about it, there is no need to put added pressure on myself."
   Church feels that the significance of the award says volumes about McKinney's talent, "With past winners such as Todd Helton, the award speaks for itself," said Church. "Plus Garth is such a nice young man."
   With secondary and collegiate success behind him, McKinney looks forward to the remainder of spring training as an opportunity to improve, "It has been a big step from college to where I am now," McKinney said. "I think my main goal is to stay healthy and take each at bat one at a time."
   "If I do that, anything can happen."