Former Columbus Stars Down to Last Strike
By Chelsa Messinger
Growing up in Columbus, JT Phillips and Kyle Carter were always swinging for the fence.
As 12-year-olds, they rose to stardom after winning the Little League World Series.
Five years later, they carried Columbus High School to three consecutive GHSA State Titles.
“They taught us how to work harder, and really pushed us,” said Hunter Swilling, a former teammate at Columbus High School.
But in the past year, the Phillips and Carter went from hitting home runs, to finding themselves down to their last strike.
Kyle Carter was arrested twice in his first semester at the University of Georgia. Months later, JT Phillips was arrested and dismissed from the UGA baseball team. Both are no longer on the team.
“It's unfortunate for JT, but he made it too easy,” said UGA Head Baseball Coach David Perno to the Athens-Banner. “I think our kids could care less, they're disappointed too.”
So are Phillips and Carter bad teammates and bad examples? Or is there still a glimmer of that heroism that shined so brightly while in Columbus?
“He's not with us, that's for sure,” said Coach Perno on JT Phillips' dismissal.
“I mean just the thought that the night before the biggest double header, he puts himself in that situation like that, he doesn't care about this team or this program.”
“I can't vouch for that,” said Columbus High School Baseball Coach Bobby Howard regarding Perno's comments.
“I'm not going to speak for another coach, cause you know, I don't know. But he [Phillips] was a great teammate when he was here,” said Howard. “Last year especially. He was hurt, banged up, and never truly healthy and was one of our loyal supporters when he wasn't playing.”
“They [Phillips and Carter] really looked after us,” said teammate Hunter Swilling.
“I mean somebody was talking crap to one of us, and trying to start something with us, and they'll step in and say 'Hey, don't mess with them I got their back.'”
“They were basically like older brothers at the time last year,” said Swilling.
So the question now, are Kyle Carter and JT Phillips good two-strike hitters?
Or, just another out in the game of life?
Find out what they've done lately to get back on the right track, coming up in Part II, airing tomorrow night on NBC 38 at 6 and 11.