Sectional action is on the schedule for today and tomorrow as baseball, softball and soccer teams try to earn a berth in the TSSAA's Spring Fling — which opens next week in Murfreesboro.
In the forefront of the area picture, Unicoi County's baseball team — once a fixture at the Spring Fling — is trying to get back to The Show for the first time since 2010. Standing in the way is Christian Academy of Knoxville, which will visit Baxter Field in Erwin tonight at 7:30.
In softball, Daniel Boone and Unicoi County will hit the road. The Lady Trailblazers won't play until Saturday at Corryton Gibbs with a 3 p.m. Start because of graduation. The Lady Blue Devils travel today to meet Christian Academy of Knoxville at 5:30.
Meanwhile, University High gets to stay at home for a battle with Meigs County at 5 p.m.
In soccer, Science Hill was working on earning a home game in Saturday's sectional as it traveled to take on Morristown West in Thursday's Region 1-AAA championship game. Greeneville was doing likewise against Chuckey-Doak in Class A-AA.
Here's a look at sectional matchups involving area teams:
CAK (30-9) at Unicoi County (28-7) — The Blue Devils have won all six of their postseason games, and pitching has been the calling card throughout.
Left-hander Brandon Garland tossed a one-hitter with 17 strikeouts in Monday's 2-0 win over Grainger, and Connor Simpson combined with Austin Green for a three-hitter in Wednesday's 7-3 win over Sullivan South for the Region 1-AA title.
CAK is probably just happy to see someone other than Knox Catholic. The Warriors lost three of four postseason games to the Irish after splitting a pair of regular season games.
“They are well-disciplined at the plate,” said Unicoi head coach Charlie Baxter of CAK. “They have good hitters throughout the lineup, good defense, and several good pitchers. It's a good solid team.”
Shortstop John Sharpe, a Lipscomb University commitment, is one of CAK's top players.
Baxter said his team just needs to do what it does well.
“We need to focus on what we can do, and not think about what the opponent is like,” said Baxter. “We need to execute what we do, and stay focused on that. That's what good teams do.”
— — —
Sullivan South (23-11) at Knox Catholic (25-7) — The Irish boasts Tennessee Tech signee Adam Reed, a catcher, infielder and pitcher.
South will likely go with ETSU preferred walk-on Russell Koesters on the mound. Game time is set for 12:30 p.m.
— — —
Knox Powell (30-9) at Dobyns-Bennett (32-4) — The Indians seek their second straight trip to the Class AAA state tournament, taking on a team they defeated 2-1 way back on March 14.
In a seven-game winning streak, D-B has allowed just 11 runs while scoring 58.
— — —
Oneida (22-10) at North Greene (30-4) — After missing out on the state tournament last year, the Huskies are on a mission this year and carry a 15-game winning streak into this contest.
— — —
South Greene (13-14) at Grace Christian (23-12) — History suggests the Rebels won't have a good shot at beating the heavily favored Rams, who crunched North Greene 10-3 in last year's sectional.
Daniel Boone (31-16) at Gibbs (44-4) — If you look at the record of the Lady Eagles and their softball tradition, it looks like a tough sell for the Lady Trailblazers.
Gibbs played in 11 state championship games in Class AA, winning nine times, including 2012. But this is Gibbs' first-ever Class AAA sectional game.
“Obviously they have a great coach and a great program,” said Boone head coach Rick Wagner. “But I know we didn't match up good against Maryville, for whatever reason. So as good as Gibbs is, we look at it as a challenge.
“And we're not excited just to be here anymore. We're to the point where we want to go win.”
Gibbs defeated Boone 4-1 in a tournament at Maryville in late April.
“It was a good game,” said Wagner.
Cheyenne Boles (3b, c) and Faith Lowry (of) are the top players for the Lady Eagles.
— — —
Maryville (25-9) at Volunteer (36-9) — The Lady Falcons have used the arm of Morgan Marshall to get within one win of a first-ever state tournament berth.
Can the standout sophomore with the blazing fastball take them one more step?
— — —
Unicoi County (38-10) at CAK (32-5) — Scoring runs in bunches has been part of the Lady Warriors' attack this season.
“They hit a lot of home runs,” said Unicoi head coach Grady Lingerfelt.
Twenty-three times this year, CAK has reached double digits in runs. And the Lady Blue Devils are coming off a 9-0 loss to Greeneville.
Lingerfelt said CAK has an impressive place to play, but it's still a softball field.
“They have the best facilities of anybody I know, softball or baseball,” said Lingerfelt. “But once you are between the lines, their field is the same.”
CAK is led by pitcher Allison Zimmerman and sophomore shortstop Hannah Devault.
— — —
Alcoa (27-6) at Greeneville (29-5) — A first-ever state tournament berth for the Lady Greene Devils is within reach.
If Greeneville gets the same type of performance from pitcher Jordan Fortel as it did in Wednesday's win over Unicoi, a 'Boro berth is likely.
— — —
Meigs County (18-12) at University High (33-8) — The Lady Buccaneers might be considered the favorite, playing at home.
However, Meigs had a lot of success in Class AA, reaching the state tournament several times. In fact, the Lady Tigers were in the state last year, losing to Unicoi County before getting eliminated by eventual Class AA champion Lexington.
University High has prepared itself for this type of matchup, playing a tough schedule against bigger schools and often coming out on top. Six of the Lady Bucs' eight losses were against teams that reached the region, and three of those teams — Greeneville, Volunteer and Daniel Boone — are still alive in sectional play.
— — —
North Greene (11-14) at Grace Christian (27-15) — It could be a long drive for a short game for the heavy underdog Lady Huskies.