Oneida senior Caleb Lee signs a letter of intent with Tennessee Temple University Thursday, May 1, 2014, as Temple baseball coach Greg Bartley and Lee's family — including parents Scott and Julie, and sisters Cassy, Cadence and Candy — look on. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)
Oneida senior Caleb Lee signs a letter of intent with Tennessee Temple University Thursday, May 1, 2014, as Temple baseball coach Greg Bartley and Lee's family — including parents Scott and Julie, and sisters Cassy, Cadence and Candy — look on. (Independent Herald photo/Ben Garrett)

 

Just before hopping on a bus to Oakdale, where he would strike out nine and give up just two hits in a complete game as Oneida won a 6-1 decision to wrap up the first undefeated district season in school history, Caleb Lee signed a letter of intent to play collegiate baseball at Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga.

It was that kind of whirlwind afternoon for Lee, who has played a significant role in Oneida's back-to-back seasons at the top of District 4-A.

A transfer to Oneida from North Carolina — his family made the move two years ago with New Generation Paving Products, where his father, Scott Lee, serves as production manager — Lee has emerged as one of District 4's top sluggers.

This season, Lee had a .420 batting averaging and a .797 slugging percentage, driving in 32 runs and scoring 33 more runs himself, with two home runs.

On the mound, Lee was 5-4 with a 4.0 ERA and 45 strikeouts.

"Caleb is a guy who just fell into our lap, and he made our team much, much better," Oneida coach Shawn West said.

In fact, Lee almost literally fell into the team's lap — New Generation landed in the former East Tennessee Trailers building next-door to the Bear Creek Sports Complex where the Indians play their home games.

"He's a top quality individual," West said. "It has been an honor to coach him."

Oneida High School principal Kevin Byrd said Lee's signing with Tennessee Temple "not only makes his team proud, but it makes this community proud.

"It's a great day at Oneida any time we can do this," Byrd said.

Tennessee Temple coach Greg Bartley said he was offering Lee a scholarship because of his grades, his work ethic and his character.

"We don't take just anybody at Tennessee Temple," Bartley said. "We look for character athletes."