Of all the weeks in the high school sports athletic calendar, the upcoming five days are perhaps the wildest ride.
It encompasses elimination games sandwiched around region title contests that often mean more than just earning home-field advantage for the sectional. It sometimes includes avoiding the toughest team from Region 2.
Region 1 semifinal contests in baseball and softball are set for Monday with the finals Wednesday. Sectional contests, with a berth in the state tournament at stake, take place Friday. Soccer follows with a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday setup.
The TSSAA Spring Fling is scheduled for May 24-27 in Murfreesboro. It’s a five-sport state championship chase that also includes tennis and track.
Tennis athletes will compete in the region individual tournaments Monday. The Class AAA tourney is set for a 10 a.m. start at Sevierville City Park. The Class A event is at Tyson Park in Knoxville, starting at 9 a.m.
But to get “there,” teams have to start “here.” And here is a look at what’s in store for area teams in baseball, softball and soccer.
Science Hill probably doesn’t need counsel for not overlooking an opponent, but it may need to guard against overconfidence.
The defending state champion Hilltoppers not only crushed Jefferson County by a combined margin of 34-6 in two March games, they can also see the Patriots are coming off beatdowns of 10-2 and 11-1 against Sevier County in the District 2-4A championship round.
However, the Hilltoppers have proven they can handle the task at hand. They haven’t lost a postseason game since 2019 — carrying a 13-game streak — and are 25-2 in the district, region and sectional dating back to 2018.
Daniel Boone is a stated underdog against Sevier County, but the Trailblazers reply to that would probably be, “So what?” They’ve beaten 33-win Science Hill twice. And of their other 11 wins, seven came against the following teams: 24-win Tennessee High, 18-win South-Doyle, defending Class AA state champion Gibbs, 22-win Loudon, 18-win West Ridge (twice) and 21-win Dobyns-Bennett.
Title favorite: Science Hill
Sullivan East proved its mettle by capturing the district title.
The Patriots are good in the batter’s box and good on the mound, which bodes well for postseason success.
Greeneville was 5-13 at one point, so the 18-18 overall mark is not a good indicator of this team’s chance of winning the region.
And Tennessee High is still a dangerous team.
Title favorite: Sullivan East.
It’s hard to imagine anybody in the state competing with Pigeon Forge at this level, but Union County owns a victory over the Tigers.
It will be interesting to see how Chuckey-Doak matches up against the Patriots as the Black Knights have enjoyed their own sparkling season.
Title favorite: Pigeon Forge.
The semifinals in this region are often times a formality for District 1 teams, and University High is certainly expected to roll.
But because of Hampton’s lack of experience at this level of the postseason, the Bulldogs will have to prove it for another shot at UH.
Title favorite: University High
In the month of May, Daniel Boone has played six games and scored the following run totals: 14, 9, 11, 10, 11 and 11.
The college-level lineup has been paying dividends at the right time, but giving up 10 runs to Dobyns-Bennett in their most recent game has to give the Lady Trailblazers at least a little pause as it forays into region competition. Boone’s top two pitchers gave up 13 hits and 10 runs in 5 2/3 innings of work.
Making things even more interesting is the semifinal opponent: Morristown East. The Lady Hurricanes, behind pitcher Kylie Rader, gave up just three and six runs in a pair of one-run losses against Boone this season.
Meanwhile, Dobyns-Bennett will try to keep its late-season roll going against the other Morristown team: West. The teams haven’t met this year, but have similar records. The Lady Indians were 2-8 in league play this year, but found the formula in the district to earn a region berth.
Title favorite: Daniel Boone
The District 1 league had good depth this year, but how will it stack up against the best District 2 has to offer?
Greeneville has a strong lineup, and it will take top-notch pitching to hold the Lady Greene Devils down.
Tennessee High and Elizabethton have good lineups, too.
Title favorite: Greeneville
Top-notch pitching probably gives the District 2 teams a leg up on the District 1 squads.
But both Johnson County and South Greene are scrappy and can put runs on the board.
Title favorite: Alcoa
If history holds, Unaka and North Greene have another meeting ahead in the region finals.
Cosby has lost in the semifinals six times in the last seven years, five of those setbacks against North Greene.
Title favorite: Unaka
It’s not an easy road for Dobyns-Bennett as the Indians must play a defending state champion in Sevier County, which won the Class AA state title last season.
Science Hill lost to Jefferson County this season, but it was only 1-0 and in early April before the Hilltoppers found the stride they captured in the district tournament.
Title favorite: Science Hill
It’s all about Greeneville, but Tennessee High might be able to get another shot at the Greene Devils as the Vikings should have a shot against Grainger.
Title favorite: Greeneville.
Pittman has been to each of the last three state championship matches, winning in 2018. And Alcoa beat the Highlanders in the district final.
It’s going to be tough for University High or Chuckey-Doak to break through with a win.
Title favorite: Alcoa