Ever since their acquaintance in the first grade halls of Foothills Elementary School some 11 years ago, Maryville’s Andrew Rouse and Andrew Bowerman have always been linked together.
Same first name, same love of the game of baseball and, most importantly same longtime friendship.
They’re now being mentioned in the same sentence again but in a totally foreign category: conference rivals.
With Bowerman signing a National Letter of Intent to wear the orange and black of Tusculum College, with Rouse’s decision to continue his baseball career at Carson-Newman College, they’ve set themselves up for many fierce and intense matchups in the future. The two schools have been playing baseball against each other for many years, and Rouse and Bowerman are ready to be a part of a rivalry which consists of a long list of memorable games.
The pair will make their respective college choices official during ceremonies at the high school on Friday.
“I’m excited and looking forward to the whole experience,” Bowerman said. “Tusculum provided the best offer, and I just knew that’s where I wanted to be.”
As far as playing against his best friend?
“It would be kind of cool since it hasn’t happened very often,” he said. “I wish him the best in his baseball career.”
Rouse as well seemed eager about playing college baseball and the opportunity provided by the Eagles.
“It’s something I’ve worked for and dreamed about since I’ve been a kid, and Carson-Newman seemed to be a good fit,” he said.
Rouse was also all praise when the topic of going head to head versus Bowerman arose.
“I think it’s something special to be in the same conference as my best friend,” he said. “After playing together the last six or seven years, it’ll be a little weird though.”
Before making their college decisions, both Rouse and Bowerman were extremely instrumental in the Rebels’ memorable and magical run to the state baseball tournament this past season. Bowerman boasted a .457 average, including three home runs, 45 RBI and 46 runs scored. On the mound is where he will probably be most remembered, going 9-3 with victories over two Major League Baseball selections — Farragut’s Phillip Pfeifer and Science Hill’s Daniel Norris.
Rouse’s offensive statistics were as impressive, hitting a solid .369 with four homers, 28 RBI’s and 38 runs scored. He also shined defensively, making only eight errors at second base while starting all but one game.