Elizabethton’s baseball team is one win away from a first while Daniel Boone’s softball squad is shooting for a second chance.
The Cyclones have never been to the Class AA state tournament while the Lady Trailblazers finished runner-up in last year’s Class AAA event.
These teams highlight today’s schedule for TSSAA Sectional contests. Winners earn a trip to Murfreesboro for next week’s BlueCross Spring Fling.
Elizabethton will play host to Christian Academy of Knoxville in a Class AA contest at 7 p.m. As for Daniel Boone, it will be on the road to face Maryville in a Class AAA game at 6 p.m. at Everett Park.
In other baseball games, Dobyns-Bennett plays host to Knox Catholic in Class AAA and Greeneville visits Pigeon Forge in Class AA. In Class A, North Greene has a home game against Knoxville Grace Christian while Unaka hits the road to battle Rockwood in Class A.
In softball, Unicoi County played its Class AA sectional contest Thursday while Greeneville travels to take on Corryton Gibbs today. Also, in Class A, University High plays host to Coalfield.
Christian Academy of Knoxville (25-11) at Elizabethton (27-10) — While the Warriors are seeking their third straight state tournament berth, the Cyclones will counter with the hunger for history and a density against pressure — especially at the plate.
“They haven’t let pressure get to them,” said Cyclones’ head coach Joe Nix. “They’ve competed against the game instead of getting caught up in the opponent or the moment.”
Elizabethton has been able to pull off some dramatic comebacks this season, each one seemingly more impressive than the previous. The most recent was a four-run 10th inning to earn a 14-13 win against Greeneville in Wednesday’s Region 2-AA title game.
CAK should be talented and well-coached, said Nix.
“We know they will be extremely disciplined,” he said. “We will have to play our best baseball game to win this game, but we are capable if we play our best baseball.
“This will be a game where we would like to play 21 outs, without giving any extras. Whatever happens, we need to make sure we stay relaxed. Baseball is a game, and it’s finite. It’s a short part of an eternal life in the grand scheme of things.”
Knox Catholic (28-11) at Dobyns-Bennett (31-6) — It has been an unwanted familiar theme for the Indians, who simply haven’t been able to win at the sectional level.
D-B has lost eight straight sectional contests — dating back to 1997 — and seven of those have been at home. However, four of those losses were to Farragut and three were to Knox Halls. The other was to South-Doyle, so at least the Indians have a new opponent this time around.
Unaka (15-12) at Rockwood (24-7) — It’s a major challenge for the Rangers despite their strong postseason tradition.
Unaka reached the state tournament from 2003-07 and also in 2009 and 20011. However, Rockwood made it in 2003-04, 2007 and 2008 and fell just one run short last year.
Also, the Tigers have won 12 straight games this season and 17 of their last 18.
Grace Christian at North Greene (21-3) — The Huskies’ baseball resurgence continues under the coaching of Tim Lady and the pitching of sophomore standout Tyler Bailey.
North Greene fought through a tough 10-9 decision in last year’s sectional against Rockwood, and may face a similar tough challenge this time around.
Daniel Boone (36-7) at Maryville (33-12) — These teams met in the Eastman tournament earlier this season with the Lady Trailblazers taking a 5-3 victory in the third-place game.
“They swing the bats well,” said Boone head coach Rick Wagner. “They are well-coached, and it will be tough.
“However, saying that, I think we’re ready. We’ve been on the road all year long, and we’ve played in some tough places.”
After seeing Seymour’s Carly Lewis in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss in the Region 1-AAA final, Boone will see another good pitcher in Madison Ogle, who hasn’t allowed an earned run in five postseason games. The hard-throwing junior struck out seven in the 5-1 Region 2-AAA final win over Knox Farragut.
“Obviously we’ve got to put the bat on the ball better than we did against Lewis,” said Wagner, whose team struck out 13 times. “At times we swing the bats better against faster girls. The thing we’ve got to do is look down in the strike zone, and lay off that high pitch that looks like a strike but it isn’t.”
Wagner said he hopes his players seize the moment as Boone plays in the sectional round for the fourth time since 2005. They are 2-1 in those games.
“In reality these opportunities don’t come around a whole lot,” said Wagner. “We’ve been blessed and fortunate to be in this position. We’ve got to take advantage of the opportunity.”
Greeneville (25-6) at Gibbs (33-12) — It’s a daunting task for the Lady Greene Devils as they meet the defending state champions.
However, sophomore pitcher Jordan Fortel could give the Greene Devils a chance at the upset.
Coalfield (25-11) at University High (26-13) — The Lady Junior Bucs are in a familiar spot against a familiar opponent.
UH seeks its fifth state tournament appearance in the last nine years, and this is third time in the last four seasons they have faced Coalfield at this stage. UH won 1-0 in 2010 at
home, and lost 1-0 in 2011 at Coalfield.
Coalfield no longer has strikeout queen Lindsey Fadnek, who graduated last season with a state-record 1,925 Ks for her career.