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And Here We Go!

Smoky Mountain Classic opens big sports weekend

Dick’s Sporting Goods Home Run Derby champion Brett McCollum of the Shoppe connects on an offering Thursday night at Sandy Springs Park. Photos by Jolanda Jansma

By Stefan Cooper
Blount Press Row

The 45th annual Smoky Mountain Classic played to a perfect opening Thursday night.

Brett McCollum not only emerged victorious from the kickoff Dick’s Sporting Goods Home Run Derby, but the Shoppe slugger was one of two of slow-pitch softball’s biggest stars to post a perfect, 10-for-10 round.

Hall of Famer Andy Purcell of defending champion Resmondo/Specialty Tank also hammered out a perfect round, but no one, not even local derby champion Freddy Arwood, could keep pace with the big-hitting McCollum for the duration.

Local home run derby champion Freddy Arwood of McNally Construction is congratulated by Parks & Rec's Chris Clark.

The Classic opens today at several area parks. Local contingents McNally Construction, Dead Ball Out, My Three Son Roofing and East Tennessee Select got things underway at Sandy Springs Park at 4 p.m.

Softball superpower Resmondo/Specialty Tank debuts on the main field at Sandy Springs at 7:45 p.m., with second-seeded Laservision providing the Day 1 nightcap at 9.

After his perfect opening round, the task became one of staying in the groove, McCollum said.

“I try not to think about it,” he said. “I just try to stay in a rhythm and keep going, just stay smooth, try not to over swing and make the ball go.”

Beginning Saturday, two additional events join a busy sports weekend locally. The Smoky Mountain Invitational Swim Meet opens its two-day run on Saturday at Springbrook Pool.

Across town, the annual Maryville College 7-on-7 Perimeter Passing Day welcomes 32 area high school teams to campus on Saturday.

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