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Blue Devils take on defending state champs

March 17th, 2014 6:15 pm by Douglas Fritz

Blue Devils take on defending state champs

Never a team to shy away from a challenge, Unicoi County is taking aim at the defending Class AA state baseball champion.

The Blue Devils (4-0) will play host to Pigeon Forge on Thursday at 6 p.m., and then travel to play the Tigers (4-0) on Friday at 5 p.m.

Pigeon Forge lost its 95-mph pitcher (Will Crowe) to the University of South Carolina, but the Tigers appear to have reloaded. They've outscored their opponents 63-11 on the season.

“They're good every year,” said Unicoi head coach Charlie Baxter, whose team will play an important Three Rivers Conference game against Sullivan South on Wednesday before tangling with the Tigers. “They've been getting to the final eight year after year. One year they didn't make it was when we beat them in the sectional here. They have a real good program.”

Baxter said the two teams have tried to get together in the past, but the schedule didn't work out.

“It worked out this year, and it should be good competition for both of us,” said Baxter. “We can see where we are at this point in the season, but it's still early.”

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Science Hill exited Murfreesboro with a sub-.500 record, but the Hilltoppers figure to be better for it in the long run.

“It helps us playing Blackman, Siegel and Riverdale,” said Science Hill head coach Ryan Edwards, whose team participated in the Grand Slam Challenge. “It exposed some areas. We've got a lot of new kids who got to see that level, and that's where we want to get.”

In the 5-3 loss to Siegel, the 7-3 decision against Blackman, and the 9-5 setback against Riverdale, Edwards said his team was very competitive.

“We had a chance to win every game,” he said. “Most of it was not getting the big hit, or not making a play. Defensively we've got to get better.”

Science Hill was scheduled to play its Big Seven Conference opener at Tennessee High on Monday, but it was washed out and moved to April 9. The Hilltoppers will play host to David Crockett today at 6 o'clock at Cardinal Park.

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Ryan Collins, an basketball assistant coach under Ken Cutlip at Science Hill over the last five seasons, was chosen Monday as the boys' head coach at Morristown East.

With the Hilltoppers, Collins helped the team to a record of 154-30 along with three district and three regional titles.

Collins was the Hilltoppers' head junior-varsity coach, leading the team to a record of 35-1 and back-to-back conference and tournament titles.

As an assistant coach at University High, Collins helped the Junior Bucs reach the Class A state semifinals in 2008.

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Follow Douglas Fritz on Twitter @FritzBlitzzz.

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Baseball games of the week: (Today) David Crockett at Science Hill, (Wednesday) Unicoi County at Sullivan South, (Thursday) David Crockett at Dobyns-Bennett, Pigeon Forge at Unicoi County, (Friday) Sullivan East at Science Hill, David Crockett at Sullivan South, Unicoi County at Pigeon Forge.

It's an important week early in the season for David Crockett, which faces two Big Seven Conference perennial powers before taking on one of the Three Rivers Conference heavyweights. …

Sullivan East gets a chance to put an extra check mark beside its strong start.

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Softball games of the week: (Today) Science Hill at Dobyns-Bennett, Happy Valley at Sullivan East, (Thursday) Daniel Boone at David Crockett, Volunteer at Science Hill, (Monday) Science Hill at David Crockett.

It doesn't matter what sport it is, it's usually quite a battle when the Lady Hilltoppers meet the Lady Indians. …

Volunteer's win over Daniel Boone to start the season makes the Lady Falcons an interesting bunch — and a challenge for Science Hill. …

Monday's game caps off a seriously challenging week for the Lady Hilltoppers.

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Prep signings: Unicoi County basketball standout Nic Chambers will continue at the next level.

The senior post player signed Monday to play at Milligan College. …

Science Hill's football program will be landing another athlete in the college ranks. Lineman Demetri Kalogeros is scheduled to sign with Carson-Newman College in the near future. …

Also joining the Carson-Newman ranks will be Unicoi County's Mallory Jackson. The Lady Blue Devils' senior signed to play tennis at the college.

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With the season getting some early momentum, it's time to take a look at the rankings. Here's the first Prep Top 10 of the season:

Team W-L

1. Dobyns-Bennett 3-0

2. Science Hill  2-3

3. Unicoi County  3-0

4. Sullivan South 3-1

5. Sullivan East  4-0

6. Daniel Boone  3-0

7. David Crockett 2-1

8. Elizabethton  0-4

9. Happy Valley  2-2

10. North Greene 1-1

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Following suit, here are the first softball rankings of the season:

Team W-L

1. Unicoi County 2-1

2. Daniel Boone 3-2

3. Science Hill 5-2

4. Elizabethton 2-0

5. Volunteer 4-4

6. Greeneville 0-0

7. Happy Valley 4-0

8. University High 3-0

9. Dobyns-Bennett 5-4

10. David Crockett 2-6 

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