Compliments are flying at Daniel Boone’s softball team like an inside fastball, but the players’ reaction has been smooth and measured.
“The girls have taken it so well and have just done their thing,” said head coach Rick Wagner. “The coaches have tried to keep them on level ground.”
The Lady Trailblazers were off to an 11-0 start heading into Monday’s game against Virginia High. They just won a championship over the weekend after winning six games in a Cookeville tournament.
“As good as we’ve been in recent years, the only tournament we had won was the Tiny Day Classic,” Wagner said.
While acknowledging the Cookeville title was nice, Wagner said he didn’t know for sure how good the other teams were — including the squad from Chicago that Boone defeated 8-3 in the title game.
“The only thing I know is we played good,” said Wagner.
And the Trailblazers also made depth improvements.
“We wanted to play people in different positions, and we got people on the bench involved for later down the road,” he said. “And we got our No. 2 pitcher, McKenzi Ferguson, some work. It was really good for us as a team. Everybody got a lot of playing time, and we played well. We came back as a better team.”
Boone is also sitting alone in first place in the Big Eight Conference at 4-0, owning a win over its biggest league threat, Science Hill.
Starting with 11 straight wins overall is a coach’s dream, but Wagner said he doesn’t have any illusions of going undefeated during the regular season.
“We know we are beatable on any day,” he said. “We can go out and struggle, but we haven’t yet.”
Boone has plenty of challenges in the near future. The ’Blazers play host to Dobyns-Bennett today and will participate in the Kingsport Eastman Invitational, which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday.
“The kids are a little excited about it,” said Wagner. “Some of the teams will be better than what we’ve seen so far.”
n Science Hill’s baseball game against Tennessee High, scheduled for Monday, was postponed to allow players and coaches to attend the visitation/funeral of Brandon Estep, son of Tennessee High swimming and diving coach Chris Estep.
Brandon, 24, was killed in a single-vehicle accident early Saturday morning.
The baseball game has been rescheduled for April 18.
n Baseball games of the week: (Today) Science Hill at Sullivan South, Tennessee High at Daniel Boone, Sullivan North at Unicoi County; (Wednesday through Saturday) Snowball Classic at Daniel Boone and David Crockett; (Monday, April 2) Science Hill at Daniel Boone, David Crockett at Dobyns-Bennett, Sullivan East at Sullivan North.
With the Rebels standing in the strongest spot league-wise in the early going, it’s an important Big Eight Conference game for Science Hill. …
Unicoi County is trying to establish a little footing in the Three Rivers Conference after close losses to Sullivan East, Sullivan North and Elizabethton. Another loss to the Raiders would put the Blue Devils in a big early hole.
n Teams have had an opportunity with the good weather to show their stuff. So it’s time for the first Prep Top 10 of the season.
1. Science Hill 5-3
2. Sullivan East 7-1
3. Elizabethton 7-1
4. Sullivan South 6-2
5. Dobyns-Bennett 5-2
6. Daniel Boone 5-1
7. Sullivan North 6-2
8. Tennessee High 4-2
9. David Crockett 2-5
10. Unicoi County 2-3
(tie) North Greene 4-1
(tie) University High 5-0
n Softball games of the week — Dobyns-Bennett at Daniel Boone, Johnson County at Elizabethton, Sullivan East at Happy Valley, (Wednesday) Elizabethton at Sullivan East, Unaka at University High, (Thursday through Saturday) Kingsport Eastman Invitational.
Johnson County opened some eyes with a 16-3 pounding of Sullivan East, and the Lady Longhorns are currently tied for first place in the Three Rivers with Unicoi County. But they will get a very big test today on the road against the Cyclones. …
Many area teams will jump into the always competitive Eastman Invitational this weekend. It’s usually a good indicator of who stands the tallest in Northeast Tennessee regardless of classification.
Three-time defending champion Unicoi County will be back to defend its titles.
n Here are the first softball rankings of the season:
1. Daniel Boone 11-0
2. Science Hill 7-3
3. Unicoi County 2-2
4. Dobyns-Bennett 4-3
5. Happy Valley 4-4
6. Elizabethton 4-1
7. Sullivan East 7-5
8. Johnson County 3-2
9. University High 4-1
10. David Crockett 2-4
n Prep signings: Daniel Boone continued its stream of signings last week when Austin McLemore decided to continue his football career.
McLemore signed to play at Carson-Newman College. …
Alex Fellers has made his college decision. He will sign to play soccer at Milligan College on April 11 at 3:15 p.m. at the high school. ...
Sullivan Central’s Savannah Benton will sign today at 2:30 p.m. at the high school to play volleyball for Milligan College.
n This Week in Prep History: April 1, 1994.
Playing in the Pepsi Invitational, Unicoi County’s baseball team defeated Sullivan South 7-3 at Sullivan North’s field, and then defeated Dobyns-Bennett 7-0 at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.
Jarrett Casey and Terry Barnett combined for 23 strikeouts in 13 innings while allowing just one earned run. At the plate, they combined to go 10 for 13 with five RBIs and seven runs scored.