After battling through the district level, area spring sports teams have their sights more clearly focused on Murfreesboro.
And in baseball, softball and soccer, it takes a win to earn a one-game shot at the Spring Fling as regional finalists also secure a spot in the sectional round.
Region semifinal action is highlighted in baseball by Science Hill traveling to play Sevier County today at 6 p.m., and Unicoi County playing host to Grainger at 7:30.
On the softball side, three area teams are at home with Daniel Boone taking on Seymour today at 6 p.m., Unicoi County playing host to Grainger at 5:30, and University High getting home field advantage against Washburn at 5 p.m.
Soccer action kicks off Tuesday with Science Hill playing host to Morristown East.
In tennis, the Region 1-AAA event will be today at Frank Lorino Park in Morristown while the 1-A/AA tournament is scheduled to be played in Greeneville.
As for track, the Class AAA sectional was held Saturday while the Class A-AA event is set for Tuesday in Knoxville.
Here's a closer look at this week's action:
After a couple of years of losing in the region semifinals to Sevier County and Jefferson County, Science Hill head coach Ryan Edwards changed his schedule to include more District 2-AAA teams.
“We purposely decided to play more region games,” said Edwards. “We played Morristown West, Sevier twice, Morristown East, and tried to play Seymour. I felt like not being familiar with region teams got us beat.”
In the two matchups with Sevier County this year, Science Hill won by scores of 5-4 and 7-4.
“They were both really good high school games,” said Edwards, whose team's season ended with a 5-4 home loss to the Smoky Bears last year. “It should be a good matchup. We're very similar teams.
“We both bunt when we have to bunt, and we both have a hitter in the middle of the order you can say is the best guy. They have a kid named (Nick) Osborne, who has a lot of power, and we've got (Kyle) Ouelette.”
While Science Hill (30-8) fell to Dobyns-Bennett in the District 1-AAA title game, Sevier County (26-12) earned home-field advantage by beating Morristown West 8-5 in 10 innings on Austin Conner's three-run walk-off homer.
Morristown West (20-15) at Dobyns-Bennett (30-4) — The Indians have beaten the Trojans in this spot two years in a row.
Two of D-B's losses this year were against out-of-state opponents, and the Indians have scored 43 runs in their last four games.
Grainger (26-11) at Unicoi County (26-7) — The Blue Devils are trying to earn their sixth sectional berth in seven years after missing out last year with a tough last-inning loss at Greeneville.
In last week's district tournament Unicoi allowed just seven runs in four games, getting wins from four different pitchers.
The Grizzlies had a 15-game winning streak this season where they allowed a total of just 19 runs. Since then, Grainger went 3-4 and gave up 34 runs in those contests.
Sullivan South (22-10) vs. Greeneville (23-7) — It's the first regional game for the Rebels since 2008, and their No. 1 pitcher has been battling a hand injury.
Head coach Anthony Richardson said the Rebels need a healthy Russell Koesters against the Greene Devils, who have won 14 of their last 15 games and scored 30 runs in three district tournament victories.
Cosby (10-16) at North Greene (28-4) — The Huskies have won 20 of 21 games since returning from a Myrtle Beach, S.C., tournament. In their last 11 games, they have surrendered only 11 runs.
After falling behind the pace of Volunteer in the regular season, Daniel Boone hit high gear and raced past the Lady Falcons for the District 1-AAA title.
The Lady Trailblazers didn't necessarily get a bargain in the process. Seymour, which went undefeated in league play, got beaten by South-Doyle in the 2-AAA title game.
So Boone must face a familiar foe in an elimination contest.
“It's fine with us,” said Boone head coach Rick Wagner. “We don't have any problems with it. They lost their pitcher from last year, but they have everybody else back from top to bottom. We played them twice and split with them this year.
“We hope the atmosphere at our place will really be a difference. We're playing as well as we have played all year. This is the time to do it.”
Volunteer (34-9) at South Doyle (25-10) — The Lady Falcons have enjoyed such a good season that a loss at this point would put quite a disappointing twist on it.
Grainger (28-13) at Unicoi County (37-9) — This is the fourth straight time these teams have meet at this stage of the season and the previous three were victories in Erwin by the Lady Blue Devils.
Unicoi has won 13 of its last 14 games and has allowed just 17 runs in those contests with eight shutouts.
The Lady Grizzlies had to battle out of the losers' bracket in District 2-AA before clipping Greeneville once and then losing to the Lady Greene Devils in the final.
Elizabethton (22-10) at Greeneville (27-5) — It has been a bit of a unsteady ride for the Lady Cyclones, but they are still playing and have the offensive firepower to give the Lady Greene Devils a challenge.
Greeneville boasts ace pitcher Jordan Fortel, who is also the team's top hitter.
Washburn at University High (31-8) — Overconfidence is likely the Lady Buccaneers' main opponent in this game, especially since they have catcher Belle Bright (thumb, missed 20 games) and pitcher Tanner Horton (ankle, 6 games) back from injuries.
“On top of getting them back, we were in a little hitting slump but came out of that in the district,” said head coach Keith Jeffers. “I think we're in a good place.”
Attempting to score has been a mighty challenge for Science Hill opponents, and preventing Hilltoppers' goals hasn't been much easier.
Science Hill (17-0-1) has outscored its opponents by a combined margin of 87-7 this season. The Hilltoppers have posted 12 shutouts, including a pair in last week's district tournament.
They will be a strong favorite against Morristown East.
University High (4-7-1) at Greeneville (14-3-1) — If it looks like a giant mountain for the Buccaneers, it's only because it is.
Greeneville is seeking a fourth straight trip to the Class A-AA state tournament.
Elizabethton first-year player Danielle Vines is favored to win in girls singles, and joins Unicoi County's doubles team of Mallory Jackson and Emily Lynch as the top threats from District 1 to earn state tournament berths in the Class A-AA event.
In Class AAA, Science Hill faces the possibility of not having a state qualifier possibly for the first time since the inception of the Spring Fling format.comments powered by Disqus