Plans set into action for ET Riverdogs' season

from staff reports

   33-15 wasn't a bad campaign for the 2003, but the East Tennessee Riverdogs anticipate putting up better numbers for 2004 even though the coaching staff is upgrading the level of competition.
   Confirmed are trips to Knoxville and Myrtle Beach with the managers working on a return to the Cincinnati area.
   "We want to help these kids improve so we are stepping up the competition level this summer," said co-manager Steve Hyder.
   Elizabethton's Greg Taylor plus Bo Bowers and Kim Key of Bristol are other coaches for the Riverdogs.
   Noted co-manager Gary Smith, "The Myrtle Beach and Cincinnati areas are the meccas in the traveling baseball arena. Last year was tough, but it's going to get a lot meaner this summer."
   Thirteen members of last year's team including seven players from Elizabethton High School - Preston Smith, Drew Hyder, Weston Issacs, Cory Hilton, Josh Guinn, J.C. Atkinson and Austin Taylor, are committed for 2004.
   The team held a very successful tournament, "Rumble in the Mountains" in Elizabethton last summer and has plans of hosting at least four tournaments this year.
   The team plans on having two sets of uniforms to wear important to project a positive image.
   "Representing East Tennessee in the right manner is important to the players and parents," said Smith.
   The team had success on the local level, finishing the year with one championship, three second place finishes and two third place finishes.
   They also did well against tough out-of-state competition, losing close games to both the North Carolina and South Carolina AAU Champions, as well as losing to the Pittsburgh Bulldogs.
   The quality of talent they compete against day in and day out is beyond anything local leagues have to offer. They have represented upper East Tennessee well and earned a reputation as tough competitors.