On May 24, 2017, Munford’s baseball season ended with a 4-1 loss to Dobyns-Bennett at the Class AAA state tournament in Murfreesboro.
It was the first time Munford had been to state in 13 years and it was also Scotty Yount’s first season as the Cougars’ head coach.
Making state is quite an accomplishment for a first-year coach, but Yount was going to rest on his laurels. He immediately began thinking of ways to keep the program competitive with the best teams in Tennessee. That summer was when the notion of a training facility began to take shape.
At first, Yount had the idea of a covered pavilion, which by itself would have been a major improvement over the batting cage located along the third-base line. When he started sketching out ideas on a piece of paper, he went ahead and drew an indoor facility to go along with it. Why not, he thought.
Yount ended up getting both.
On Sept. 23, the coach’s 51st birthday, the 8,500-square-foot Munford Baseball Training Facility opened for action.
The indoor section, which is 5,000 square feet, allows for at least five people to take batting practice at the same time and will include a locker room, bathrooms and a mudroom. It’s big enough take take ground balls and can be divided into multiple sections thanks to retractable netting. Attached to that is the 3,500-square-foot pavilion where up to four people can take batting practice at the same time. Like the indoor area, it can serve as one large space or multiple small ones because of the netting.
In previous years Munford was forced to take ground balls in the cafeteria during inclement weather. The only area available for hitting, other than the field, was the small and worn-out cage located along the third-base line.
“From a developmental stand point, the amount of fundamental work you can do in here without missing any time will make a huge difference in the standard of quality of player we can put out here,” Yount said last week while standing in his facility, which still has that new turf smell. “I can open up this place every day in the fall and they can get their work in. That’s something I’ve never been able to do.”
The facility is located on the hill that over looks the home dugout on the third-base line, nestled between agricultural buildings and the band’s practice field.
Covington and Brighton have had indoor baseball training facilities for several years and Tipton-Rosemark built one in 2019. Now Munford has its own, and it’s the largest and most elaborate one in the area.
“Brighton and Covington had an indoor baseball facility and we didn’t,” said Munford athletic director Mike Huffman. “We’re just trying to keep up.”
Huffman said this is the first step of a five-year plan that includes building more indoor practice facilities for other sports.
Yount said the Tipton County School Board contributed $150,000 to the project, which he estimates to cost between $250,000 and $300,000. The balance came from alumni donations and money raised by the program’s booster club.
“The school system has been hash tagging ‘endless possibilities’ and they proved it to me,” Yount said. “Our program is humbled and very thankful to them, our boosters and alumni.”
Whether Munford can get back to state in the coming years remains to be seen, but Yount believes the new facility, which the players affectionately call “The Shed,” gives his team what they need to be successful.
“At the beginning of each season I always felt, and I didn’t want them (the players) to think this, we were always behind at the plate and pretty much stayed behind,” Yount said. “All the work we did one-on-one was on the game field. There were practice things I wanted to do that I couldn’t do efficiently, amount of swings, things like that, with two cages. I just wasn’t happy with the quality of work. Now we’re ready to go.”