Madison Southern senior Tanner Hembree has played baseball all his life.

Despite that fact, the outfielder decided not to play his freshman year of high school.

"Looking back, I really don't know why I didn't," Hembree said with a laugh. "I love baseball. I love to play. I love everything about the game. It was hard to sit out that year."

So his sophomore year, Hembree was determined to get back on the diamond.

That too came with challenges.

He was new to the team and in his three years as an Eagle, Hembree will have three different head coaches.

Despite the obstacles, the senior worked hard to prove himself and fulfill his dream.

Hembree earned a starting spot on varsity last season.

"Just being new to the team and proving my worth and showing what I can do (was a big challenge.) I knew I wanted a starting spot on varsity. I knew I had to really work hard if I wanted to earn it," the senior explained.

Hembree doesn't shy away from work -- something that immediately impressed new Eagle baseball head coach Jayson Langfels.

"He's definitely blue collar," the coach said of Hembree. "He's been very consistent and is eager to do whatever it takes. He has a vision and he knows where he wants to go and is out to get it."

Langfels said Hembree is a great inspiration to his younger teammates as the senior is proof of how far hard work can get you.

"He's one of the best advocates of how we want to go about our business and how we want to work. He's been a leader to the younger kids and a good example. They see how hard he's worked and how far he's come," Langfels said.

Last month, Hembree took another big step in his baseball career when he signed a letter of intent to play at Alice Lloyd College.

The senior considered Berea College, but was really impressed when he visited Alice Lloyd last year.

"I toured the college and I loved everything about it. I fell in love with it. I loved the campus and I loved the coaches. It felt like a good place for me," Hembree explained.

The senior plans to major in criminal justice.

Last season, Hembree played in 23 games and ended the season with a .208 batting average.

In 48 at-bats, Hembree had 10 hits, nine runs and five RBI.

The senior said he plans to continue to work hard and improve in his final season at Southern.

"I really like our new coach (Langfels). We really want to make a run at regions this year. We all want to get as far as we can," Hembree said.

The senior said his impressive work ethic and drive comes from his family, especially his grandfather.

"We are really close," Hembree explained. "I've seen all the things he's been able to accomplish. I really look up to him. His work ethic is amazing."

Langfels said he has no doubt that Hembree will continue to succeed.

"The sky's the limit with how much he can do. He is willing to work as hard as it takes and it shows," the coach added.

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