Christine Hardin wasn't the average-every-day high school athlete, so Milligan College might be getting quite a bargain.
Hardin will sign to play soccer at with the Lady Buffaloes today. The signing will take place at 3 p.m. at Elizabethton High School.
During her four years at Elizabethton, Hardin ran cross country and track for the Lady Cyclones. She also played basketball and tennis. And of course, she excelled at soccer.
However, football was the sport that really set Hardin apart. She was the Cyclones' place-kicker for the last three seasons. She wasn't just a token place-kicker, she was consistent and accurate and gave the Cyclones an edge over many opponents at that position.
Elizabethton soccer coach Bill McClay said the mental toughness Hardin gained in football will serve her well with the Lady Buffaloes.
“Certainly it will help her from a psychological aspect,” said McClay. “She had all those eyes on her when she was kicking, and she was the female kicker of the boys' team. That built psychological strength.
“It may not help her skill-wise in soccer, but it will serve her well as the pace increases in college. All of the girls in college were good high school players, and sometimes it can be frustrating to not be able to get done what you were used to doing.”
Hardin got some looks from Division I schools, and had an offer in hand from a Division 2 school. But Milligan won the recruiting battle.
“I think Milligan is very happy to have her,” said McClay. “I think she will fit in well there. She's a good fit for the school, and a good fit for the team.
“She brings a work ethic and tenacity. There's never a letdown on the field. It's constant, and that can be contagious.”
Hardin finished her high school career with a school-record 127 goals.
“She was one part we never had to worry about,” said McClay. “She was always a threat to score. And she was able to possess the ball and keep it at her feet long enough to get her teammates into the attack.”
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Johnson County struggled to find wins early in the softball season, but the Lady Longhorns have gotten things on a better course lately.
They surged all the way to a third-place finish in the Three Rivers Conference. They were picked to finish fifth, so it has been a surprising season for a mostly young team with three sophomores and two freshmen in the starting lineup. That includes sophomore pitcher Hope Nelson and freshman pitcher Brianna Snyder.
Senior Ashley Arnold has been the leader at the plate for the Lady Longhorns, who were 12-15 heading into Monday's game against Cloudland. Arnold is batting .440 with 10 doubles and 13 RBIs on the season.
Freshman Jamie Jennings has compiled a .392 batting average while slugging nine home runs and driving in 39 runs.
Also, sophomore Abbie Reece is hitting .329.
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District 2 softball: Greeneville will finish second or third in 2-AA's regular season. The Lady Greene Devils (20-4) will play at Chuckey-Doak on Wednesday to settle the second-place issue.
Grainger (30-7) will be the No. 1 seed for the district tournament.
In 2-AAA, Seymour (33-5) is the No. 1 seed while Jefferson County (17-12) is seeded second.
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District 2 baseball: Sevier County (27-5) is the No. 1 seed 2-AAA. South Doyle, Jefferson County and Seymour are in the mix for the second seed.
In 2-AA, Grainger (18-10) and Greeneville (13-8) are in the mix for the top spot.
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Prep signings: Will Adams will make his college choice official Wednesday.
The Science Hill senior basketball standout will get a Division I deal as he will sign with Presbyterian College. The signing will take place at 3 p.m. in the Science Hill gym.
Also signing at the same time and day will be Megan Devotie. The Lady Hilltoppers' softball standout will make it official with King College.
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Former Tennessee High athletic director Bill Bingham was recognized recently by the Tennessee Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association with the Distinguished Service Award.
Bingham was an assistant coach in football and baseball from 1964-73 at Tennessee High, helping the school win two football state titles (1971-72) and a baseball state championship (1967).
Bingham was athletic director and head football coach from 1973-77, leading the Vikings to an overall record of 36-14. He stayed on as AD until retiring in 1995.
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Baseball games of the week — (Today) Daniel Boone at Science Hill, Unicoi County at Dobyns-Bennett.
The Boone-Science Hill game could decide second place in the Big Eight Conference.
Meanwhile, the D-B/Unicoi contest will decide the No. 1 spot for Northeast Tennessee's final regular season rankings.
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Sullivan East has been playing terrific baseball since April 8. The Patriots have won 12 of 14 games, including a win over Unicoi County.
East turned its momentum into a three-spot leap to No. 7 in the final Prep Top 10 baseball rankings.
Unicoi and D-B share the top spot with the tie to be broken in today's battle.
Team W-L Prv
1. Unicoi County 19-3 1
(tie) Dobyns-Bennett 24-4 3
3. Science Hill 23-6 2
4. Elizabethton 21-10 4
5. Daniel Boone 16-12 6
6. Sullivan South 18-12 5
7. Sullivan East 15-10 10
8. Tennessee High 11-10 7
9. North Greene 17-3 9
10. Happy Valley 15-11 8
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Softball games of the week — (Today) Daniel Boone at Unicoi County.
These teams go back to back as the first matchup came Monday in Gray, where the Lady Blue Devils won convincingly, 8-1.
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Unicoi County burst into the top spot in the final softball rankings of the season (Unicoi and Boone's records reflect Monday's contest. All other records are through Saturday's games).
Team W-L Prv
1. Unicoi County 29-5 2
2. Daniel Boone 31-5 1
3. Elizabethton 19-10 3
4. Greeneville 20-4 4
5. Science Hill 25-13 5
6. Dobyns-Bennett 21-15 6
7. David Crockett 14-14 7
8. Volunteer 19-14 8
9. University High 20-11 9
10. Tennessee High 15-17 10