EHS baseball duo headed to Columbia St.


  By Tim Chambers
  star staff
  tchambers@starhq.com
  Good things come in packages of two, and nothing could be more pleasing for Jim Painter and the Columbia State Chargers baseball team.
  After taking the entire summer to weigh out their options, Travis Bowers and Zack Stipe have decided to attended the two-year junior college and continue their baseball careers.
  "They have one of the nicest facilities of any junior college in the country," stated Stipe. "My dad went to Columbia State and that was one of the reasons I wanted to come here and play."
  Stipe was the Cyclone ace on the hill during the 2004 baseball season, going 6-3 with a 3.03 ERA. The crafty left-hander used an arsenal of off-speed pitching and some pinpoint control that made him one of the top pitchers in Northeast Tennessee.
  Bowers wore the label of being one of the top players in East Tennessee during the past three seasons. This year he hit .469 with two home runs and 29 RBIs.
  Furthermore, he was 3-3 on the hill and was highly-regarded as a defensive whiz at the hot corner.
  "I wanted to go the junior college route and improve my game," said Bowers. "The difference with a two-year college is that during your freshman season, everyone gets a chance to play."
  Stipe saw the need for left-handed pitching as the Chargers listed on two on last year's roster.
  "Coach Painter's is one of the most successful junior college coaches in the country," added Stipe. "I want to learn from the best."
  Jim Painter has over 1,000 wins in his coaching career and is well respected among his peers. He is noted as being a mastermind on the diamond.
  "They told me if I came in and hit well that I would have a good chance of playing," remarked Bowers. "I hope to get an opportunity at playing third or first base."
  Both Stipe and Bowers were named to the all Watauga Conference team and each was a first-team member of the Elizabethton Star All-Carter/Johnson County team.
  Both Stipe and Bowers stated there was nothing like being a part of Cyclone baseball.
  "I am pleased we won 19 regular-season games but was disappointed in how we played at tournament time," said Stipe. "Both indicated that being a part of Cyclone baseball would always be special to them."
  The 19 wins were the most by a Cyclone baseball team in 25 years.
  "Coach Steve McKinney is a very good coach and sometimes doesn't get the credit he deserves," added Bowers.
  Stipe indicated that McKinney had taught him a great deal about baseball, which has made him better player.
  Stipe indicated: "Coach McKinney knows the game of baseball and he's very good to his players."
  Both players gave credit to assistant coach Johnny Burleson, Charles "Chuck" Bowers and summer league coach Jon Minton for the countless hours they spent working with the duo on their game.
  Stipe is the son of Rod and Sally Stipe while Bowers is the son of Glen and Cheryl Bowers of Elizabethton.
  Both gave the highest praise to their parents for the support they received throughout their careers.
  Coach Painter said that Columbia State would take part in some 18 fall games and 56 during the regular season.
  "We welcome players like Travis and Zack to come and be a part of Charger baseball," added Painter. "Both struck me as struck me as fine young men. I am looking forward to seeing them compete in the fall."