RUTLEDGE — Grainger baseball coach Jake Stiles knew early on the 2019 Grizzlies had a lot of talent. Of course that is easy for a coach to see when he is with a team for five years.

Stiles served as the head coach of the baseball team at Rutledge Middle School and when Chad Tate stepped down as the Grizzlies’ skipper to focus on being the head football coach, Stiles was a natural fit to take over. He built Grainger into a consistent winner and a senior-laden team entered the season with high expectations after a successful 2018 season which included a win over eventual state champion Greeneville.

Success was expected and success was delivered as the Grizzlies finished the 2019 campaign with a 26-12 overall mark and was ranked as high as sixth in the state at one point. Due to the great season Grainger had, Stiles has been named the Citizen Tribune All-Lakeway Area Baseball Coach of the Year. “I’m honored and most of this comes from the fact I had good players and good assistants who did a lot of work,” a grateful Stiles said.

“This was a really good group of kids who had a lot of talent,” Stiles said of the 2019 Grizzlies. “I had coached them for five years, since they were in eighth grade. I went down as the middle school for one year and then kind of came up with those guys. They played some really good baseball this year and beat some really good teams but had a few games that slipped away from us.”