Just before fireworks were set to go off on July 4, incoming Tullahoma High School senior Hollis Fanning set the Twitter-verse ablaze, announcing his decision to verbally commit to play baseball at the University of Tennessee.
I've loved baseball my whole life, and tonight I am honored to announce that I am committed to the University of Tennessee at Knoxville to continue my career! I'm ready to join my sister in Knoxville. 🍊 pic.twitter.com/gf7AAt8D79— Hollis Fanning (@hollis_fanning) July 5, 2019
So far, the Tweet has received massive attention from Vols fans, and as of press time, had reached 939 likes. According to Hollis, he wasn’t a Tennessee fan, but when his older sister, Ella, enrolled at the university, he had an idea that’s where he wanted to be.
“I watched them play baseball on TV last year and really liked what I saw,” Hollis said. “Obviously, it helps that I have a sister who goes there and as soon as Tennessee offered, I knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
In May, Hollis took a school trip to the University of Tennessee, getting a feel for the campus. While in Knoxville, he also made it a point to stop and catch a Vols game, really getting a feel for the atmosphere.
“I loved everything about the school,” he said. “When they took me to the baseball facilities, it definitely helped me make that decision.”
This past season was a breakout year for Hollis, as he was the Wildcats ace on the mound. As a junior, the right-hander compiled an overall record of 6-2 in his nine games started for Tullahoma.
“When you look at a kid who has that kind of size — I think he’s at 6 feet, 7 inches – those colleges and those schools, they see projectable things that they can do with him,” said former THS Head Coach Phillip King. “There’s a big ceiling there. You put some weight on him and it’s a bit different than high school on what they can do throughout the year. There’s just a lot of upside for Hollis, he has a high ceiling.”
While boasting a winning record this year, Hollis also finished the season with an ERA of 1.90, allowing 16 earned runs in his 59 innings pitched. He also struck out 75 batters this past year, an average of nine punchouts per ballgame, while surrendering just 35 hits and walking 19 batters.
“I think what’s so deceptive about Hollis and why he’s so effective, is one, his fastball,” King said. “Obviously, he’s so big, he’s not literally halfway to the plate, but he really reaches out there, so that kind of confuses some kids. Plus, he hides the ball really well. He comes at a three-fourth arm angle, which is different than over the top. Then the other thing that he does really well, is that he mixes in a pretty good breaking pitch.”
In June, Hollis and teammate Race Marin were named to the Tennessee Region 4-AAA Team by TN Baseball Report. While he appreciates the mention, Hollis said he wants to continue to work better on the field, and he hopes that the hard work reflects when he goes out there and pitches.
“I hope it means that they see the work that I’m putting into pitching and the mental focus that I use to prepare for every game,” Hollis said. “I just look at it as, I’ve done the work, I’ve just got to go out and show what the work has benefited me.”
Heading into his senior season, Hollis said the goal for him is to help the Wildcats continue to win. He also mentioned that he’d love to get one personal accolade.
“I’d obviously love to be District Pitcher of the Year because that’s something that’s been engrained in your mind that you’re the best around,” he said. “I think that’s always been a goal of mine.”