Pike Liberal Arts honors alumnus with tournament

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Pike Liberal Arts head coach Butch Austin remembers the day like it was yesterday.

Nearly 10 years ago, Jonah McWaters, a standout three-sport athelete at Pike Liberal Arts, was involved in an automobile accident on the way to school that left him paralyzed from the waist down.

Both the Pike baseball and softball teams will host the Jonah McWaters Tournament this weekend to honor the former Patriot standout.

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“Jonah is just a remarkable young man,” said Austin. “He played for me back in the day, and now this is our chance once a year to play for him.”

McWaters starred on the football gridiron, basketball hardwood and baseball diamond during the early part of the millenum, and Austin said that he has transformed in to a great ambassador for the school and community.

“Jonah is going to do some great things in his life, I promise you that,” said Austin. “He loves Pike more than anyone I know, and has spoken to our church in the past. He will be here this weekend, and we want to win it for him.”

Pike will welcome in teams from all across the state to Troy this weekend for the tournament.

Lakeside, Crenshaw Christian, Abbeville Christian, Springwood Christian, Emmanuel Christian, Northside Methodist, Tuscaloosa Academy and Ashford Academy will send baseball and softball teams to compete in the three-day event.

Austin said that his baseball team is “really tired,” but will keep playing.

“We have been playing a lot of ball lately and need a break, but we aren’t going to get it,” said Austin. “We have been blessed with some good pitching early this season and will keep at it until we get a break.

Austin and his assistants have relied on senior Taytom Barnes as the “go to” man on the mound early in the season, but have other arms ready to go if needed.

Chandler Avant, Reid Dickey, John Stephen Grice, Dustin Newmany and others have seen time on the hill through the early-season slate.

The Patriots (13-3) are fresh off an area win over Macon-East Academy earlier in the week, and want to keep the momentum rolling.

“We have had some good outings this season,” said Austin. “We have to keep getting better, and we will be able to do some really good things this season.”

The Jonah McWaters Tournament gets underway on Thursday.