HVA’s Penn a double winner

HARDIN VALLEY — Jackson Penn has been a big winner on and off the field lately.

But as one of Hardin Valley Academy’s top pitching arms, the junior missed his first chance to pitch in 2017 during the first weekend action of the season.

Penn was too busy winning a statewide DECA competition, nailing a roughly 30-minute financial services “role-playing” skit partnering with fellow HVA junior Matthew Goldstine, in Chattanooga March 17-18. It earned the pair a trip to the national competition, including Canada, in Anaheim, Calif., April 25-30.

“We didn’t expect it at all. We didn’t think we were going to make it,” Penn said Saturday afternoon, March 25, on the HVA baseball field a few minutes following his other big win of late.

Penn wasn’t exactly rusty in his first pitching performance of 2017, firing four innings of scoreless relief to help Hardin Valley Academy grab its first victory of the week, beating Powell 5-2. The Hawks entered this week 3-4.

“Even with the stuff I missed I feel like I just jumped right back in … and was able to compete well,” Penn said. “I was comfortable and I was ready to go.”

Happy with “my curveball,” Penn allowed just two hits and no walks while striking out four.

Penn said the Hawks coaching staff “at first didn’t want me to go for that last inning, but I convinced them to let me go.”

“He was excellent. That was Jackson’s first opportunity to get on the mound this year because he’s a great student,” HVA interim head coach Matt Pattillo said.

Down 2-0 in the third inning, Jac Umberger’s double, Cam Fisher’s RBI triple and Lucas Cook’s sacrifice fly tied it.

Pinch-runner Bryce Jenkins put the Hawks up for good in the bottom of the fourth, scoring on a wild pitch after stealing a base.

Hawk Brock Umberger scored after a walk in the fifth, as did Ryder Green in the sixth.