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Vikings' baseball team crushing the ball

Douglas Fritz • Mar 26, 2018 at 6:11 PM

Tennessee High’s baseball team is 8-1 on the season, but that’s not the most impressive thing.

The Vikings are averaging a crazy 14 runs per game, but that’s not the most impressive thing.

At the top of the eye-opening start is the fact the Vikings have scored 127 runs while giving up only 18. Wow.

That’s an average score of 14-2, a fairly rare result for baseball. So to average that score over the course of nine games is something that likely hasn’t been seen in this area since the Unicoi County heydays of the mid-to-late 1980s.

“I told a lot of people going into the season, it’s the deepest lineup I’ve coached in 11 years as assistant or head coach,” said Vikings’ head coach Preston Roberts. “I knew we would hit it, but the biggest surprise has been our pitchers stepping up. Of course, when you get a 5-0 lead, it takes pressure off of the pitcher.”

Roberts said his team, which is 3-0 in the Big Seven Conference, understands it has plenty of challenges ahead.

“We’re moving forward into the meat of our schedule with Science Hill coming up as our next conference opponent,” said Roberts. “We’re playing really good right now, and I’ve been very impressed. But I don’t want to get too excited. We haven’t faced (Science Hill’s Brandon) Feathers or some of the other dominant arms in the conference who can shut offenses down.”

Tennessee High is batting over .400 as a team with senior shortstop Banks Presson leading the way. The Tusculum College signee is hitting over .500 from his leadoff position. Other key hitters include juniors C.J. Hess (2b), Gavin Cross (cf) and Davis Hall (3b) along with senior first baseman Jason Vannoy.

On the mound, Hall and senior Bodhi Baker are each 2-0.

“They both throw strikes,” said Roberts. “That’s the key.”

The Vikings will try to continue their onslaught Tuesday at rival Virginia High at 6 p.m.

New faces

After a great run from 2010-16 that produced seven straight sectional berths and four Class A state tournament appearances, University High’s softball team fell short of the region last year.

And this year might be another phase of the rebuilding process.

“We are young,” said head coach Keith Jeffers. “We have two seniors and the rest are sophomores to eighth grade.”

One of those seniors is a dandy: East Tennessee State University signee Kensington Dailey. She batted .504 last season and has as many home runs (three) as strikeouts in 297 at-bats over the last two seasons.

The only other returning players are freshmen Sydney Trosin and Ryleigh Owen along with sophomore Ciara Kennedy.

Dailey will handle most of the pitching duties, taking the ball in the circle against league opponents and tough non-conference games. Owen and sophomore Macy Falin will also see time in the circle.

University High’s softball season got under way Monday as the Lady Buccaneers took on Sullivan Central.

Rule changes for football

The National Federation of High Schools has adopted several rule changes for the 2018 season:

1. An improperly equipped player shall be replaced for at least one down.

This is a change from the distance penalty against the team.

2. Defenseless-player provisions for passer clarified.

Provisions do not apply to a passer until a legal forward pass is thrown. The passer continues as a defenseless player until the pass ends or the passer moves to participate in the play.

3. New penalty option for fouls by kicking team during free and scrimmage kicks.

Trying to reduce re-kicks, the receiving team still has all previous options, which are: accept 5-yard penalty from previous spot and re-kick, put ball in play at the in-bounds spot 25 yards beyond the previous spot, or decline the penalty. The new rule adds the choice of accepting a 5-yard penalty from the succeeding spot.

Baseball highlight games

Tuesday

Daniel Boone at Science Hill

Unicoi County at Sullivan East

North Greene at Unaka

Monday, April 2

Science Hill at Tennessee High

Happy Valley at Elizabethton

Several key league encounters are in focus, especially for the Trailblazers and Hilltoppers. Both are off to quick starts, and Science Hill also has Tennessee High in its distance vision.

Softball highlight games

Thursday

Dobyns-Bennett at Science Hill

Sullivan East at Unicoi County

The Lady Hilltoppers and Indians square off in a league makeup game in what is turning out to be a strong Big Seven Conference.

Soccer highlight games

Tuesday

Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett

Thursday

Tennessee High at Science Hill

Knox Farragut at Dobyns-Bennett

It’s one of the best spring sports rivalries when the Hilltoppers and Indians meet on the pitch.

Meanwhile, Farragut already crushed it against Science Hill, winning 5-0 last week. Now the Admirals take aim at the unbeaten Indians.

Baseball rankings

Tennessee High makes an upward charge and powers into the No. 2 spot in this week’s Baseball Top 10.

Team (W-L) — Prv

1. Science Hill (6-2) — 1

2. Tennessee High (8-1) — 4

3. Dobyns-Bennett (5-4) — 2

4. Unicoi County (4-1) — 3

5. Daniel Boone (6-1) — 6

6. Elizabethton (4-2) — 7

7. Sullivan East (3-1) — 5

8. Happy Valley (4-1) — NR

9. Sullivan Central (4-1) — 10

10. Sullivan South (2-4) — 8

Softball rankings

Science Hill lost a trio of games in a South Carolina tournament, but the Lady Hilltoppers are 7-0 outside of that event. They ride a six-game winning streak into the No. 3 spot in this week’s Softball Top 10.

Team (W-L) — Prv

1. Daniel Boone (6-4) — 1

2. Unicoi County (6-2) — 3

3. Science Hill (9-3) — 5

4. David Crockett (3-2) — 2

5. Elizabethton (3-2) — 4

6. Unaka (5-2) — 6

7. Dobyns-Bennett (5-3) — 7

8. Sullivan East (5-3) — 9

9. Sullivan South (1-4) — 8

10. Volunteer (2-4) — 10

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