Union shows confidence in former 'Clone

staff photo
Joseph Vines (left) is pictured with Union College head coach Bart Osborne after Vines inked to continue his baseball career for Osborne at the Barbourville, Kent., school
By Ivan Sanders

   For Joseph Vines, the last few months have been a roller coaster of emotions as a former Elizabethton Cyclone hurler.
   After having one of his best seasons for the Cyclones with a 5-2 overall record as a senior with one save and a 1.78 ERA, Vines tore the ulnar collateral ligament pitching against the Volunteer Falcons in the district tournament.
   At the time, Vines was chasing a dream of playing collegiately, and with some interest from a few schools the dream appeared headed towards being fulfilled. After feeling the pop in his elbow, Vines future went from one with a forecast of sunny days ahead to one with dark storm clouds on the horizon.
   On Saturday, Aug. 2 in Barbourville, Ky., the sun once again popped out for the recent Cyclone graduate as the Union College Bulldogs felt confident in the strong spirit of Vines, both in recovery from surgery and his overall athletic ability, as the Bulldogs choose to ink the former Cyclone to an athletic scholarship.
   Union, coached by MTSU grad Brad Osborne entering his first season as head skipper, finished this past season with a 38-20 overall record despite having to fight various injuries as well as the weather.
   Located on a 100-acre campus in Barbourville, Union is a small, spirited, independent liberal arts college with an undergraduate enrollment of 600, and over 300 graduate students hailing from 23 states and several foreign countries.
   Vines, who must undergo at least nine months to one year of rehab, will be redshirted his freshman season to give the arm ample time to heal. According to Dr. Damon Petty, who performed the surgery at Cumberland University Hospital in Lebanon, Tenn., Vines' surgery was one of the best ones he had ever performed, and after proper healing the arm should be three times stronger than it ever was.
   Even though Vines will not be able to officially throw another pitch until his second year at Union, he has been approached about pitching for the 'Tennessee Thunder' wooden bat league next summer after his rehab is completed. The league is sanctioned by the NCAA.