The Munford High School baseball team had a very strong pitching staff in 2022 and that was one of many reasons the team won district, region and sectional titles and advanced to the state tournament.
But when head coach Scotty Yount felt like his team was up against it and needed a spark on the mound, senior Garrett McKinney got the call.
“When our backs were against the wall, he was getting the ball,” Yount said. “He was my guy. The team knew that. I always saved him for that game when our backs were against the wall.”
The coaching staff at Bethel University noticed his fiery attitude and strong pitching skills as well. In front of friends, family members, teammates and coaches last week, McKinney signed with the school. He’ll join Covington’s Cam Tindall (McKinney’s cousin) and Munford graduate Balfour Roe on the Bethel roster.
“I feel like it’s somewhere i can learn, grow as a pitcher, work on my craft and get better,” McKinney said.
Bethel coach Lee Whitaker, who attended McKinney’s signing, was the catcher at Bethel when Munford assistant coach Garrett Perry pitched at Bethel. That was part of the reason McKinney was initially recruited.
“I knew he had some Bethel in him,” Whitaker said. “Immediately we knew he’d be somebody we’d want to pursue. He throws multiple pitches for strikes, floods the zone, has good character and controls the running game, which is something that’s important to us. We’re stoked.”
Yount said McKinney, who struck out 72 batters last season, was the kind of player who took bullpen sessions and game prep very seriously.
“Not everybody is like that,” Yount said. “There was never one time when I put Garrett McKinney on the mound when I didn’t think we were going to win. To say that I’m proud of him is an understatement.”