Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is Daniel Boone Softball’s Megan Ackerman. Megan has been a leader for the Trailblazers on the softball diamond this season. Check back next week for the following Andrew Johnson Bank’s Player of the Week.

Boone Softball leads Big Seven Conference

The Daniel Boone High School Softball Team is currently leading the Big Seven Conference after defeating Science Hill High School at home on Monday.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

Daniel Boone’s softball team enters the homestretch of the regular season hitting on an all cylinders.

The Trailblazers (8-1, 38-5) took a half-game lead over Science Hill for first place in the Big Seven Conference with a 15-3 win against David Crockett on Monday in Gray.

Megan Ackerman hit two home runs, drove in five runs and pitched five innings for the victory against the Pioneers.

Jaycie Jenkins also homered for Boone, which has been on a roll most of the season.

Jenkins is batting .500 with a .559 on-base percentage. Ackerman and Boone’s other pitcher, Nickolette Ferguson, are batting .430 and .412, respectively.

Ackerman leads the team with 53 RBIs and is tied for the team lead with Jenkins in home runs with six. Ferguson and Camryn Sarvis each have five home runs.

Ackerman (22-1) and Ferguson (16-3) have been dependable on the mound. Ackerman has 107 strikeouts and 12 walks in 136 1/3 innings. Ferguson has struck out 133 and walked 29 in 103 1/3 innings.

“Both of our pitchers have pitched a lot of big games,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “We’ve got confidence in both of them out there every time they take the mound. We’re trying to pitch to contact and make the plays behind ‘em as much as we can.”

Boone also has more speed than Jenkins is accustomed to. Brylee Mesusan leads the team with 31 stolen bases. Makenna Dietz (24) and Jenkins (22) are also threats on the bases.

“It’s kind of like we’ve got three leadoff hitters in our lineup,” Jenkins said. “Mesusan’s got a lot of speed. When we can get her on base we’ve got a really good chance of scoring.”

Boone’s beaten quality competition, including a title in the tournament at Gibbs.

“Going to Gibbs and beating some good competition down there and beating Girls Preparatory School, 5-1, was a big win for us,” Jenkins said. “They’d beat us last year. And knocking Gibbs out in the championship, 2-0, was a big win for us.

“I think that tournament is as good a tournament as you can be in in the state of Tennessee, and we really pitched well all week long. That’s what’s really been carrying us – our pitching and defense.

“Hopefully our bats will get hot at the right time. Last year, I felt like we were a little dead-legged going into the tournament. We pitched really well, but we never really hit the ball really good last year at the end of the season.

“Hopefully, we can just keep this going for the next week, because the tournament starts in a week.”

David Crockett Softball

David Crockett (7-3, 19-9) has been hampered somewhat by the shin splints of ace Kara Weems.

“But she has been a fighter and fought through it,” Crockett coach Carla Weems said. “Kara is having a good year. She’s had to battle an injury with shin splints.”

Weems is 12-5 on the mound. Jenna Davis (6-4) has also pitched effectively at times.

Alyssa Suits is leading Crockett with a .422 average. She also has 11 stolen bases.

Matty McKee is batting .368. Riley Hope and Mackenzie Baldwin are tied for the team lead with seven home runs. Weems is batting .355 with four home runs. Ashlyn Dulaney also has four home runs.

“Alyssa Suits is hitting great and is great on the bases,” Carla Weems said. “Jenna Davis and Maddie Roy combined for nine RBIs in the Cherokee game.

“Maddie is a senior and has battled the loss of a childhood friend this season and needed to have a good game to lift her spirits.”

Daniel Boone Baseball

Daniel Boone’s baseball team (7-5, 14-11) concluded the Big Seven Conference portion of its schedule with a tough 1-0 loss at Tennessee High last week. Junior Cade Elliott pitched exceptionally while allowing one run and two hits in 5 1/3 innings. Elliott threw 113 pitches.

The ‘Blazers narrowly missed a home run earlier in the game when Colby Backus lined a double off the left field fence.

“I thought it was gone,” said Tennessee High starter Davis Hall, who threw a two-hit shutout.

Elliott said Backus, a Providence Academy transfer who’s played well in right field, has provided protection for Elliott at the plate.

“Backus came in this year and I was excited,” Elliott said. “Everybody was singing his praises and stuff. Instantly we clicked. He’s one of the guys now.

“He’s one of my best friends. Having him out there is great. We talk all the time. He makes great plays like those out there today. He comes in and hits ‘em hard. He’s a great guy to have in the lineup.”

David Crockett Baseball

College quarterback prospect Cade Larkins is leading David Crockett’s baseball team in hitting (.441) and on-base percentage (.542).

Sophomore Cody Wheeley is slugging a team-best .742 and leads the team in home runs (four) and RBIs (22). He’s second on the team in hitting (.381) and on-base percentage (.512).

Wheely also had a team-best 3.86 ERA. He is 1-1 on the mound and has converted both of his save opportunities.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is David Crockett Baseball’s Grady Cash. Grady was instrumental in the Pioneers’ win over Daniel Boone last week. Check back next week for the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Pioneer Baseball takes down Trailblazers

The David Crockett High School Baseball Team was led to victory by Pioneer pitcher Grady Cash against the Daniel Boone High School Trailblazers during the team’s conference game last week. The Pioneers are now 3-6 in the Big Seven Conference and 7-12 overall.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

David Crockett’s baseball team didn’t pay off an umpire, but it salvaged a split with Daniel Boone last week thanks to Grady Cash.

Cash pitched Crockett to victory and went 2-for-3 with three RBIs and a run in the Pioneers’ 8-5 defeat of Boone on Wednesday at Warren Miller Park.

The versatile Cash allowed one earned run in four innings while giving up three hits, walking two and striking out four.

“Grady Cash has been playing very well lately,” first-year coach Spencer Street said. “I don’t really know what his best position is.

“He helps us out so much on the mound. He’s our second conference starter, behind the lefty (Luke) Adams. He’s kind of a utility guy, and it’s not because he can’t play a position better than anybody else. It’s really because he does everything so well. And he hits well.

“He would make the sandwiches and drive the bus if we asked him to. He’s played every position this year except catcher, and I think I’m gonna put him in at catcher in one of our last games just so he can say he played all nine positions.”

Cash was hitting .379 and second on the team with 15 RBIs following Monday’s victory against Cherokee, which improved the Pioneers to 3-6 in the Big Seven Conference and 7-12 overall.

Cade Larkins is leading the Pioneers with a .440 average. Sophomore Cody Wheeley is leading the Pioneers in RBIs (16) and runs (18). He’s also 1-1 on the mound with two saves and 16 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings.

“He’s got that pretty left-handed swing and in every conference win we’ve had, he’s closed the game out,” Street said.

“He’s gonna be a guy that garners a lot of (college) attention this summer and next year.”

Daniel Boone Baseball

Daniel Boone junior Cade Elliott doesn’t get much attention. But that’s because he’s already committed to Tennessee.

Duke and East Tennessee State had already shown strong interest, too. But Elliott, a 6-foot-6 left-handed two-way player, said colleges have honored his commitment by halting their pursuit.

Elliott raised his average near .500 with a 3-for-3 night in the Trailblazers’ 8-6 home win against Tennessee High on Monday.

“He’s a really, really good high school hitter,” Tennessee High coach Preston Roberts said.

The victory denied the Vikings from moving into a first-place tie with Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill, and allows the ‘Blazers (7-4, 14-10) a decent chance of still finishing as high as second.

Elliott pitched a complete game in Boone’s 12-3 defeat of David Crockett last week at Clarence Mabe Field. He struck out 10 and walked none en route to a five-hitter.

He also went 2-for-3 with a run and an RBI.

“I’ve been having a lot of fun this year, more fun than I’ve had in baseball in a long time,” Elliott said.

“These are good guys and when you see a team like this you just love playing around ‘em.”

Boone honored former coach Jerry Jenkins prior to the game. A large turnout of former players paid tribute.

Daniel Boone Softball

Daniel Boone’s softball team remained in a first-place tie with David Crockett in the Big Seven Conference while improving to 35-5 with a 10-1 win against Dobyns-Bennett on Monday in Gray.

Nickolette Ferguson struck out nine and walked none while pitching a four-hitter. Ferguson also had two hits, as did Dannah Persinger, Megan Ackerman and Brylee Mesusan.

Ackerman pitched a shutout on Saturday when the ‘Blazers beat Gibbs 2-0 in the championship of the Gibbs Invitational. Jaycie Jenknins was 2-for-3 with a run and Ferguson went 2-for-2 with an RBI.

Ferguson pitched a two-hitter and Jenkins went 3-for-4 in a 6-0 win against William Blount.

Ferguson tossed a five-inning perfect game in a 15-0 win against Union for the ‘Blazers. Jenkins and Greyson Stevens each hit a home run.

David Crockett Softball

David Crockett stayed atop the Big Seven Conference standings with wins last week at Dobyns-Bennett and Tennessee High.

Riley Hope went 4-for-4 with five RBIs and four runs in a 15-1 victory at Tennessee High on Wednesday. The Pioneers also got home runs from Madison Roy and Mackenzie Baldwin.

Milligan College signee Kara Weems pitched a three-hitter and drove in three runs against the Vikings.

Pioneer coach takes Unicoi job, leaves legacy

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

David Crockett basketball coach John Good’s unprecedented six-year run at David Crockett has come to a halt.

Good is leaving to accept the same position at Unicoi County. The Class AA Blue Devils have been to nine sectionals in the past 15 years under coaches John English, who is now the superintendent, and his successor Michael Smith.

Crockett has been to three Class AAA sectionals since the school opened in 1971, and Good accounted for two of those in 2016 and ’17.

“I’ve always had great respect for Coach English and Coach Smith – what they did and the way their teams played,” Good said. “They love the game and they love kids.”

With his record-setting son Patrick leading the way, Good guided David Crockett’s program to its first state tournament berth in 2016 after finishing an impressive two-game sweep of a powerful Tee Higgins-led Oak Ridge team that season.

Dustin Day and Brendan Coleman played exceptionally in the sectional win at Oak Ridge, and Good delivered one of his many game-winners for the Pioneers, who’d previously beaten Oak Ridge that season in one of the most entertaining Arby’s Classic games of all-time.

Oak Ridge was especially motivated after that loss, but Crockett didn’t enter a sold-out gym intimidated or nervous.

“I remember being down 10 in the third quarter at Oak Ridge with 1:47 on the clock and I was like – I remember just looking at our coaches and I could see our kids, and they weren’t rattled,” John Good said. “And I’m like, ‘Shoot, we’re gonna win this thing.’ … That was an awesome feeling.”

The senior-laden team suffered a disappointing 78-68 loss to Station Camp in the state quarterfinals, but Crockett got back to the sectional with an overhauled roster the following season thanks to dynamo combo guard Josh “Rico” Releford.

“He really went to work that season,” Good said. “He was a warrior, that’s for sure. … Those first four years – it was good to get everybody’s attention. Everybody had to start scouting Crockett. I just thought that was fun, and the kids and the community really supported each other. It was just a fun ride.”

David Crockett athletic director Josh Kite agreed.

“He’s given us so much here at Crockett,” Kite said. “And I don’t want to be selfish, but I’d have honestly loved for him to stay here. But it is what it is and it’s what’s best for him and his family. We had a good conversation over the phone a couple of nights ago and he thought it was best to explore other options in the classroom and coaching.

“I commend him for everything he did for us at Crockett. He gave us six years of great basketball and he’s done stuff here that nobody’s been able to do. He went to the state (tournament) and gave us an opportunity to win.”

Good thanked Kite and former principal Andy Hare for giving him his first head coaching job.

“Coach Hare gave me an opportunity, took a chance on me, a guy who’d never been a head coach before – him and Josh together,” Good said. “ And Mrs. (Peggy) Wright and everyone else there have been great, school board members … have been so supportive with our program and what we do.”

Good will continue to teach at Crockett for the semester’s remainder. Kite said he’d like to hire a coach within a month, but won’t make a hasty hire with spring camp in mind.

Boone Softball continues success in Myrtle Beach

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

The Daniel Boone softball team’s hot start to the 2019 season didn’t cool off in Myrtle Beach.

The Trailblazers improved to 25-5 on the season while participating in the Cal Ripken Experience last week.

Boone concluded the week with an 11-4 defeat of East Carter (Kentucky), a defending state champion. Nickolette Ferguson got the victory on the mound and shortstop Jaycie Jenkins went 2-for-3 with two runs and three RBIs. Brylee Mesusan was also 2-for-3 and Megan Ackerman was 2-for-4 with two RBIs.

Camryn Sarvis and Dannah Persinger each hit a home run.

Ferguson pitched a shutout in an 11-0 win against Ashland (Kentucky) and Ackerman pitched a five-hitter in 3-2 win against Lawrence County. Jenkins was 2-for-4 with three RBIs against Lawrence County. Mesusan was also 2-for-4.

“Players really enjoyed the Ripken Experience,” Daniel Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said. “Playing on replica major league parks and all-turf fields was an experience in itself. I thought we really pitched well and played really good defense the entire week. We hit it okay, but we have got to be more consistent.

“Both Nickolette and Megan got two victories each. Brylee Mesusan, Jaycie Jenkins and McKenna Dietz were our leading hitters for the week. Hope the experience and success will pay off for us in conference play.”

Ackerman is 15-1 with a save and has allowed 13 earned runs in 96 1/3 innings. Ferguson is 10-3 with a save and has struck out 96 in 71 1/3 innings.

Ackerman (.434), Jenkins (.433) and Ferguson (.409) are each batting above .400. Ackerman is slugging a team-high .711. Ferguson, McKenna Dietz and Sarvis are tied for the team lead in home runs with three apiece, and Ackerman (27) and Jenkins (19) are first and second in RBIs. Mesusan has a team-high 22 stolen bases.

Daniel Boone’s baseball team nearly completed a coveted home-and-home sweep of Science Hill on Tuesday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.

Right-hander Hunter Adams was pitching a perfect game until Landon Slemp’s one-out hit in the bottom of the fifth inning, and Adams still led 3-1 in the bottom of the sixth thanks to Cade Elliott’s long RBI double to right-center field. But three late errors essentially doomed the ‘Blazers.

“It’s a tough one to lose because we were so close,” Boone coach Rob Hoover said. “When we’re up two with six outs to go we’ve gotta find ways to finish. … Regardless of whether we won or lost this game, we’ve still got a good team. But at the end of the day, when we’re up two with six outs to go we’ve got to get it done.”

Elliott, a 6-foot-5 junior committed to Tennessee, was 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs.

Adams struck out seven, walked none and allowed five hits and two earned runs in six innings.

“He was definitely a very good pitcher, one of the best we’ve faced all year,” said Science Hill’s Jackson Hill.

Gaven Jones, in his first varsity start, pitched a five-hit shutout as Boone (12-9) wrapped up play in the Spivey, King and Spivey Tribe Classic with a 9-0 defeat of University High on Saturday at Thomas Stadium. Adams had two hits and two RBIs.

Two weeks after no-hitting Sullivan South, Ryne Haney took a no-hitter into the fourth before settling for a one-hitter in Friday’s 10-0 win against Happy Valley at Clarence Mabe Field.

David Crockett’s Nolan Miller pitched a two-hitter and Cody Wheeley delivered a grand slam in the Pioneers’ 12-0 five-inning win against Unicoi County Saturday in the Spivey, King and Spivey Tribe Classic at J. Fred Johnson Stadium.

Miller tallied three strikeouts and no walks. Wheeley, who also tripled and drew a walk, went 2-for-2 with three runs and five RBIs. Miller and Kaleb Swanson each went 2-for-3 for the Pioneers.

Riley Hope hit a grand slam as David Crockett’s softball team concluded the week’s play at Disney’s Wide World of Sports on Friday with a 7-6 defeat of Beaver (Pennsylvania). Her third-inning blast gave the Pioneers a 4-3 lead.

The Pioneers (15-7) hit four home runs Friday in a 13-0 win against Beloit Memorial. Two of those came from sophomore Mackenzie Baldwin, who drove in seven runs in the game.

Senior Kara Weems pitched a three-hit shutout. She also went 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs and three RBIs.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is Boone Baseball’s Hunter Adams. Hunter has been a driving force on the mound and at the plate for the Trailblazers. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is David Crockett High School’s Dalton Williams. Dalton was a vital part of the Pioneers’ win over Hampton recently. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Breaking the streak: Boone tops Science Hill

The Daniel Boone Baseball Team took the victory against Science Hill, breaking a 16-game losing streak against the Hilltoppers.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

Daniel Boone’s baseball team shut out Science Hill while winning handily on April 1 – no fooling.

Three weeks shy of a six-year drought, the Trailblazers ended a 16-game losing streak to the Hilltoppers with a 5-0 win on Monday at Clarence Mabe Field.

Junior 6-foot-5 left-hander Cade Elliott pitched six shutout innings and delivered what proved to be the game-winning hit with a two-run double in a three-run third.

Elliott, a Tennessee commitment, said beating the Hilltoppers was “number one” on his list of accomplishments during his young career.

“It’s unbelievable,” Elliott said. “I’ve been thinking about this game pretty much all year, had it marked down on the calendar. So it’s pretty big to have this win.”

Science Hill hadn’t lost to the Trailblazers since a 6-5 setback in Gray on April 22, 2013. Five of Boone’s losses during the skid were one-run margins.

“It’s a big win and we’ve got a chance to do something that we’ve never done, which is to win both games in a conference series against Science Hill,” Boone coach Rob Hoover said.

Elliott struck out six, allowed three hits and walked four, picking up where he left off in a dominant start against Cherokee last week.

“It was just like last week when he had one walk and 12 strikeouts (in a win against Cherokee),” Hoover said. “When he commands his fastball and gets his breaking ball and changeup over, it makes his fastball that much better. And he has the potential to do that every time out.”

Elliott retired all five batters he faced with runners in scoring position.

“He made good pitches when we had guys on base, and that’s what good pitchers do,” Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards said. “He pitched a good game.”

Anthony Edwards went 2-for-3 with a walk, two steals and two runs. Hunter Adams was 2-for-3 with a double, a stolen base and an RBI. Chase Chandler was 2-for-2 with a run and was hit by a pitch, and pitched a scoreless seventh.

Boone (5-2, 10-5) is intent on making a run at a league title.

“This team has goals to finish near the top,” Hoover said, “and if we want to do that we’ve got to play each game like it’s game seven.”

David Crockett Baseball

David Crockett nearly ended what is now a nine-game losing streak to Science Hill last Tuesday at TVA Credit Union Ballpark.

The Pioneers trailed 7-5 with runners at second and third and no outs in the top of the seventh when Cade Larkins lined a 2-1 pitch into center field off reliever Landon Slemp. But Caleb Marmo made the catch and threw out Landon Quillen by a lot at home plate for a demoralizing double play that helped preserve the Hilltoppers’ 7-5 victory.

“Caleb is a heckuva player and that’s a big-league throw,” Crockett first-year coach Spencer Street said. “I didn’t hesitate at the time. Obviously, if you go back in time, maybe you hold him up. But that’s a chance we take regularly and we’re aggressive on the base paths. It takes a perfect throw and Caleb made a perfect throw.”

Sophomore catcher Dakota Stout was 2-for-3 with an RBI for the Pioneers.

“He’s made a heck of an adjustment in the last month to really earn that catching job,” Street said. “He’s a tough out at the plate.”

The hard-luck Pioneers also suffered a heartbreaker in the opening game of a two-game series with Dobyns-Bennett on April 1 in Jonesborough. The Indians won 3-2 behind Virginia Tech signee Brogan Beckner, who struck out 16 en route to a two-hitter.

Left-hander Luke Adams struck out eight in the complete-game loss and doubled in a run.

Daniel Boone will honor former baseball coach Jerry Jenkins on Monday, April 8, prior to the Trailblazers’ home game against David Crockett. Jenkins has coached a number of sports at Daniel Boone and Crockett. He was Boone’s head baseball coach (1994-05) and an assistant there from 1972-78.

Jenkins will be formally recognized at 5:45 p.m. at Clarence Mabe Field.

Daniel Boone Softball

Daniel Boone’s softball team went 8-2 to finish sixth in the Eastman Invitational last week, improving its season record to 21-5.

Megan Ackerman (13-1) pitched a shutout in a 4-0 against William Blount. Ackerman also had an RBI double. Jaycie Jenkins was 2-for-3 with two doubles, two runs and an RBI.

Nickolette Ferguson hit a three-run home run in an 8-7 loss to Anderson County on Sunday. Ackerman was 3-for-3.

Ackerman pitched a three-hit shutout in a 6-0 defeat of Moore County on Saturday, a day that included a 10-2 win against Clinton and an 8-1 win against Grainger. Ackerman had four hits against Clinton, including a home run and two doubles. Jenkins delivered a two-run home run.

Ferguson, McKenna Dietz and Camryn Sarvis are tied for the team lead with three home runs. Ackerman has a team-high 27 RBIs and Jenkins leads the ‘Blazers with 12 doubles.

Ackerman (.434), Jenkins (.433) and Ferguson (.409) are all batting better than .400.

David Crockett Softball

David Crockett’s softball team improved to 3-1 in the Big Seven Conference with a 4-3 home win against Cherokee last week.

With the score tied, 3-3, entering the home half of the sixth, Haley Arrowood opened the frame with a bunt single, advanced to second on Jenna Davis’ hit and scored due to an error in the outfield.

Kara Weems pitched a five-hitter for the victory, striking out 11 and walking three.

Alyssa Suits was 3-for-3 for the Pioneers (11-5), who will play this week in Orlando, Florida.

Daniel Boone Baseball tops Sullivan South in no-hitter

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

The wind was blowing out at Clarence Mabe Field on Friday, and it had Daniel Boone pitcher Ryne Haney feeling down about his start against visiting Sullivan South.

“The wind changed my approach a little bit,” Haney said. “I couldn’t leave anything up in the zone or it could prove costly.”

Mission accomplished. Haney pitched a no-hitter against a solid Rebels lineup in the Trailblazers’ 15-0 five-inning victory. Haney walked one and hit a batter while striking out seven.

“Ryne was really impressive throwing multiple pitches for strikes,” Boone coach Rob Hoover said.

“He was able to stay ahead in the counts most of the night. He has put in a lot of hard work, and I couldn’t be prouder for him to experience a no-hitter at the high school level.”

The game ended when left fielder Easton Harrell made a catch and threw to first base to double up Peyton Stanley.

“I went after the hitters with my fastball early in hopes of throwing a breaking ball that they couldn’t do anything with,” Haney said.

“I knew that if I did my job and kept balls off the heart of the plate, my teammates would make plays behind me.”

Colby Backus and Ben Allen each drove in three runs. Backus, Brody Goodman and Tennessee commitment Cade Elliott, a junior, each had two hits.

It was business as usual at the plate for Backus and Elliott, who are setting a torrid pace during Boone’s 6-3 start.

“Cade Elliott is off to an impressive start offensively by hitting .667 through nine games,” Hoover said, “and Colby Backus is hitting .452 with 14 RBIs.”

David Crockett Baseball

David Crockett’s Landon Quillen pitched a two-hitter in the Pioneers’ 9-1 win against Unicoi County on Friday. Quillen struck out nine and walked one.

He helped his cause by going 2-for-5 with two triples, two RBIs and two runs. Cade Larkins was 3-for-4 with two runs and an RBI.

Cody Wheeley (2-for-2, double, RBI), Grady Cash (2-for-4, two runs, RBI) and Johnny Loyd (2-for-4, RBI) also excelled at the plate for Spencer Street’s Pioneers (3-4).

Daniel Boone Softball

The Daniel Boone softball team recorded its second victory in as many meetings this season with rival David Crockett, following up an extra-inning conference victory with a 3-0 win in the East Tennessee Classic championship Saturday night at Winged Deer Park.

Nickolette Ferguson pitched a three-hitter for the Trailblazers (12-2). McKenna Dietz hit a solo home run and doubled and scored on a home run by Kayla Hubbard.

Jenna Davis took the loss for the Pioneers (7-3), who got two hits from Alyssa Suits.

Boone’s championship run included a 1-0 win against Farragut and a 4-3 defeat of Science Hill in the semifinals.

Megan Ackerman pitched a four-hit shutout against Farragut on Friday. Freshman Brylee Mesusan led off the seventh inning with a walk and stole second. She was sacrificed to third by Jaycie Jenkins and scored the winning run on Ackerman’s sacrifice fly.

Ackerman also produced what proved to be the game-winning RBI in the win against Science Hill.

David Crockett Softball

David Crockett defeated Unicoi County, 5-3, in the semifinals. Matty McKee tallied two hits and two RBIs.

Ashlyn Dulaney hit a grand slam and drove in six runs in Crockett’s 12-1 win against Unaka on Thursday at Winged Deer.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is Daniel Boone Softball’s Megan Ackerman. Megan has been a leader for her team on defense and offense. Check back next week to view the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is Luke Adams. Luke was a vital part in the David Crockett Baseball Team’s victory over Sullivan South. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Crockett senior signs to Tusculum

Gabby Rambo (front middle) signs with Tusculum College on Thursday, March 7, while surrounded by family, friends and coaches at David Crockett High School.

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

mwaters@heraldandtribune.com

David Crockett High School volleyball player Gabby Rambo will soon be trading hardwood for sand.

Rambo signed to play beach ball at Tusculum College on Thursday, March 7. Rambo, who is the first Crockett athlete to ever sign to play beach volleyball, said her decision to choose sand volleyball over court volleyball stems from her desire to be challenged.

“It’s a lot different. One thing is you can’t jump as high,” Rambo said, laughing. “You have to work on communicating with your partner more. In sand volleyball, it’s different because you have to be an all-around player, so playing every position on the court, I had to take that skill and put it on the sand volleyball court. It’s just more challenging I thought than court volleyball. That’s why I wanted to go into that instead.”

Rambo will be new to the program, but the program will also be new to Tusculum as it starts its inaugural season. The hard work and summer tournaments will be all too familiar for the Crockett senior, however.

For the beach volleyball signee, it all started with a backyard court her dad created with poles and concrete-filled tires back before she had attended public school. Rambo was homeschooled from third grade through eighth grade and started playing for the Washington County School System a few years after TSSAA changed its regulations, allowing homeschooled athletes to participate in school sports.

“I didn’t have a gym at the time, especially when I was homeschooled,” She said.

“I remember going out and practicing everyday working on my jump serve and hitting. It was nice having my brother, Jacob, setting me balls to hit. We still go out there on the same net and just have fun.”

Since then, Rambo has played in numerous outdoor tournaments throughout the summer at places like Wetlands and Tusculum, where she was first introduced to the Tusculum coach. Now, she said she’s looking forward to pushing herself, bonding with her future sand volleyball partner and putting in the extra physical effort beach volleyball requires in her next chapter.

“I think the traveling and just showing my skills on a different playing field (is something to look forward to),” Rambo said. “It’s harder to jump, run, and takes all your muscle strength and cardio to perform tasks that would be easier on the court. I’m also very excited because the team seems very family based and close. The coaches there, they just welcomed me. I’m very excited about working with them.”

She may be headed to the sand, but Rambo said her time at Crockett will stick with her. She said above all, she’ll miss her girls on the court after a senior season full of team bonding.

“I’ve really enjoyed my senior year,” Rambo said. “I feel like we’ve gotten really close. We’ve had a lot of good memories on this team. Everyone has been very supportive and it’s just been a good experience for my senior year.”

Crockett baseball starts off with big win

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

After being picked to finish sixth in the Big Seven Conference, David Crockett’s baseball team opened the league schedule by defeating preseason favorite Tennessee High on Monday at Todd Houston Field in Bristol.

Senior left-handed pitcher Luke Adams (1-1) allowed two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings and sophomore catcher Dakota Stout went 4-for-5 with two runs and an RBI for Crockett in the conference debut of first-year coach Spencer Street. The former Daniel Boone assistant was particularly impressed with Adams, who doesn’t let a lack of overpowering velocity keep him from pitching inside and didn’t let shaky Pioneers defense in the first inning affect his attitude.

“He’s had to compete for everything he’s ever gotten,” Street said. “He’s always kind of been an undersized guy, you know, ‘you don’t throw hard enough’ or ‘you don’t have a good enough this.’ He loves to compete and he loves these guys.

“He’s been a leader in the clubhouse all offseason. He works his tail off in the weight room. If you need somebody to get something done, you can trust him to get it done. And that shows when he’s out on the mound. He’s there for his teammates. He didn’t hit the panic button and he continued to throw strikes, which is something we had to have tonight.”

Adams allowed five hits, walked four and hit two batters while throwing 120 pitches.

“We’re a good team,” Adams said. “We came out a little sloppy, but I knew we were gonna hit. So I just had to keep throwing strikes. My team was behind me the whole way.”

Grady Cash was 3-for-4 with three runs and two RBIs and Cade Larkins went 2-for-4 with a double, a walk and three RBIs. Cody Wheeley was 2-for-5 with a double and an RBI and Johnny Loyd had a two-run double.

Stout, a left-handed batting sophomore catcher hitting seventh in the lineup, delivered four line-drive hits.

“As a sophomore, to step up and do that, was (impressive),” Street said. “We kind of know what we’re gonna get with our top five or six. We really feel confident with those guys. … With Adams and Quillen and Cash and Larkins and Wheeley, you know, that’s a dangerous five guys.”

Center fielder Micah Robinson made two impressive catches.

“Micah can go get it,” Street said. “He can flat-out pick ‘em up and put ‘em down.”

Crockett went 9-22 last season. So a taste of success isn’t expected to fill the Pioneers with complacency.

“We’ve got a long way to go,” Adams said, “before we can prove people wrong.”

Daniel Boone Softball

Daniel Boone’s softball team opened the season in dramatic fashion, winning 6-1 in extra innings at David Crockett last week.

Nickolette Ferguson’s grand slam capped a five-run eighth for the Trailblazers. Megan Ackerman struck out 11 en route to the complete-game victory and went 3-for-5 with two go-ahead RBI singles.

“Megan threw a great game against Crockett, striking out 11 and giving up five hits and not walking anybody,” Boone coach Jeremy Jenkins said.

The ‘Blazers went 5-2 this past weekend at the Mary Vowell tournament in Franklin and reached the championship game, where it lost 9-8 to Creekwood. Freshman Brylee Mesusan was 3-for-3 with two RBIs and three stolen bases in the championship.

Boone had defeated Creekwood, 2-0, in pool play. Ackerman pitched a three-hit shutout and went 2-for-2 with two doubles.

Another freshman, Camryn Sarvis, went 3-for-3 with two home runs in a 12-0 victory against Dobyns-Bennett.

Daniel Boone Baseball

After opening the Big Seven schedule by splitting a pair of games with perennial power Dobyns-Bennett last week, Daniel Boone’s baseball team improved to 2-1 in the league with a 17-2 five-inning victory against Volunteer on Monday.

Hunter Adams struck out 13 while pitching a three-hitter and Colby Backus drove in five runs for the Trailblazers (2-1, 4-2).

Rob Hoover’s ‘Blazers defeated Sullivan South, 8-3, and Morristown East, 8-2, on Saturday in Morristown. Center fielder Brody Goodman stole three bases against South in support of Chase Chandler’s victory. Ryne Haney got the victory against Morristown East.

Crockett senior signs with Brevard

Breanna O’Shields (front middle) signs with Brevard College on Thursday, March 7, while surrounded by family, friends and coaches at David Crockett High School.

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

mwaters@heraldandtribune.com

The crowd in the David Crockett High School library saw Breanna O’Shields commit to playing volleyball at Brevard College in North Carolina on Thursday, March 7, but for the high school senior, it was more like she was seeing her dream become a reality.

“It was amazing,” O’Shields said, thinking back to her signing day. “It was like everything I worked for my whole life was finally coming into reality. It’s not just like a dream anymore. I finally got there.”

O’Shields also considered The University of the Cumberlands, Emory & Henry College and Carson-Newman. However, the David Crockett volleyball captain felt an excitement she couldn’t quite let go of after her first visit at Brevard.

“When I went and visited, I got to have lunch with the coaches and a couple of the players,” She said. “I felt like that’s what really kind of made me chose there because everyone was just so welcoming and they were so excited about their school.

“They were all just so happy and enthusiastic and I just wanted to be where they were.”

Though choosing the right college for her athletic and academic career was at the top of the list (O’Shields said she plans to become an accountant), the Crockett senior has always dreamed of pursuing the sport that has helped her grow as an athlete and as a person since the very beginning.

“I feel like volleyball is not just a sport,” O’Shields said. “I’ve been really athletic and in middle school I played three different sports, but I feel like volleyball helps me throughout life as well. I feel like it helps me come out of my shell and talk to more people. Especially being the captain this year, it’s helped me learn leadership.

“I want to be an accountant and hopefully I’ll be in a big position where I’ll have to work with a lot of other people and I feel like volleyball really helps prepare me for those areas in my life.”

In looking back on the outside hitter’s high school career, O’Shields said the group of girls she bonded with throughout her senior year made her final season as a Pioneer one she’ll never forget.

“This was the best team I’ve ever had,” She said. “We had a bond on and off the court. I think that’s what kept me going, especially this year.

“Senior year you’re just kind of over it and you kind of just want a break from everything, but I really think my team is what really kept me going. I’m definitely going to miss this group of girls I had this season.”

Player of the Week

This week’s player of the week is Daniel Boone Basketball’s Bayleigh Carmichel. Bayleigh has been a leader on the court for the Trailblazers this season. Check back next week for the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

Former Boone assistant ready to lead

Spencer Street will lead the David Crockett Baseball Team this year as a first-year head coach after serving as an assistant coach at Daniel Boone High School.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

David Crockett’s baseball program will be managed by its third head coach in as many seasons this year. And although it’s almost certainly not gonna lead to the type of success that the same scenario produced in football with first-year coach Hayden Chandley this past season, the Pioneers dugout has also imported some Daniel Boone flavor.

Crockett first-year coach Spencer Street, who has taken over for Nick Lingerfelt after a 9-22 season, spent the past four seasons assisting Daniel Boone coach Rob Hoover.

Street said Hoover is a sharp baseball mind, but taught him as much about the game of life.

“Coach Hoover really doesn’t talk a lot of baseball when we talk now,” Street said. “We talk two or three times every couple of weeks and we really don’t talk much baseball. We kind of ask how each other’s doing and all that.

“Rob’s just so much more than a baseball coach. He’s somebody that I try to mold my character by, and how he teaches and how he goes about discipline and the expectations that he has.”

Hoover is a passionate competitor, but keeps it all in perspective.

“Every coach in this conference is super competitive and nobody settles for anything less than trying to get that regional berth and advance and being at the top of the conference,” Street said. “But with Coach Hoover it’s so much more than the wins and losses. He’s got over 225 wins or something like that, and that would be the last thing he would talk about. He’ll talk about his experiences with the guys and the relationships that he’s built.

“And I don’t think other people will talk about the games that he’s won – the guys who played for him. It’s just how good of a guy he is and how you can depend on him. And I’m sure they’ll be right there this year.”

Hoover is high on Street. He looks forward to the uncommon managerial matchup for Musket ball.

“Spencer is an incredible young coach who balances great knowledge of the game with having great relationships with his players,” Hoover said. “He is no doubt going to be really successful. He played a huge role for us at Daniel Boone with his energy, passion, and his ability to teach the game. It will be a challenge to beat his team.”

Street’s experienced many styles and philosophies. He had the rare opportunity to play for the same coach, Bernie Young, in high school (class of 2005 at Science Hill) and college (Milligan). Young won a state championship at Science Hill in 1998.

“I love Coach Young,” said Street who played for Young as a sophomore at Science Hill during Young’s final season in 2003 and as a freshman at Milligan College during Young’s final season in 2006. “He gave me a shot as a young guy to be around it and see how things are done. Being able to watch him run a practice and how he handled things on the field was definitely a blessing for sure.”

Street said he also learned a lot playing in college for Nathan Meade and at Science Hill under Andy Wallen. Street’s coaching career began under current Science Hill coach Ryan Edwards before spending four years in middle school at Ridgeview and Sulphur Springs.

Street won’t be expected to win like Chandley was during his debut. But Crockett did improve as the season went along under Lingerfelt, who also enhanced practice facilities, offices and locker rooms.

“The coaches’ office and the varsity locker room were completely remodeled,” Street said, “and it’s a place these guys like to be and like to hang out. And that’s just a testament to Nick having a good eye for that and being able to get the job done. And these guys are proud of their facilities. He’s a quality guy and he did a lot for this program.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a high-energy athletic director like Josh Kite, a former Chuckey-Doak ace who pitched at East Tennessee State and for five years in the minors for Cleveland and Detroit affiliates.

“Josh is a baseball guy,” Street said. “He’ll tell you that. He’s willing to go to bat for us. He’s so proud of all the athletics here and how far they’ve come.”

So is Street, who got sidetracked bragging on the jobs done by Chandley, basketball coach John Good, girls basketball coach Tony Gordon and reigning conference and district champion softball coach Carla Weems.

“For me, being brought into that and able to see what expectations are and how things are carried out with all the other programs, you know, it really kind of lights a fire under me and my staff,” Street said. “You almost – you don’t want to let them down. They work so hard.”

Street works hard too, though it’s a labor of love.

“Baseball’s my first love,” he said. “I love this game. This is a great opportunity. It kind of came out of nowhere. It’s definitely a blessing, and I feel a calling to be here and be part of this community and to see how much they care about David Crockett High School. And it’s such a good group of kids.

“I stop and talk to my wife about it and I just kind of smile and laugh. I couldn’t have come into a better situation at any place. The Lord blessed me getting me here.”

Boone wrestler fights to stay on top

Daniel Boone High School’s Isabella Badon overcame multiple injuries this year to solidify her reign as a state champion.

By TREY WILLIAMS

H&T Correspondent

Daniel Boone senior Isabella Badon had major surgeries on her hip and shoulder prior to her senior season, but the three-time state champion’s spirit was always strong while trying to pin down a four-peat.

And sure enough, the irrepressible Badon overcame extreme adversity to win her fourth straight state title on Feb. 16.

Badon (28-5) edged Elizabethton’s Tyesha Thomas, 3-2, for the title in what was selected as the tournament’s most outstanding match.

Thomas defeated Badon three times during the season, which was understandable. Badon was coming off surgeries for torn labrums in her hip and shoulder. She also had a torn biceps tendon, bone chips and torn cartilage. She had six screws put in her hip and four more in her shoulder.

Badon wasn’t allowed to run all summer. She couldn’t get on a mat until early November and wasn’t allowed to start wrestling until December, at which point she had mono.

“At least mono helped me lose weight,” she said with a chuckle.

Isabella Badon prepares to take down her opponent at the state tournament, earning her fourth championship in her high school career.

Boone coach Matt Montgomery marveled at Badon’s resolve.

“I have never had the honor of coaching someone with so much grit and perseverance,” Montgomery said. “She is the epitome of what it means to be a champion.”

Granted, even Badon was worried about being able to return to the top of the mountain. Matter of fact, she wasn’t certain she’d wrestle again after last year’s season-ending hip dislocation.

“During practice I would be like, ‘Coach, I don’t think I’m gonna make it. I don’t think I’m gonna be that good whenever I get back onto that mat,’” she said. “And every time he said, ‘You might not be there fully, but you’ll be able to win it.’ And he was right. I wasn’t back fully, but I was able to win it.”

Montgomery was invaluable in Badon’s recovery.

“He helped me a lot whenever I first got hurt and I ended up wrestling in the national duals and then having the surgery,” Badon said. “After last season, I just sat on the mat and cried because I did not think I’d ever wrestle again. It was very bad. I’m not sure that he didn’t feel the same thing, but he was always very confident and he would say, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be able to wrestle again.’ …

“This year we would go running around 6 a.m. before I had to go to school – and we would do them whenever it was cold, too.”

Badon finished her career with 105 wins, 11 losses and four state titles.

“Isabella has truly reaped what she sewed,” Montgomery said. “She has tremendous work ethic. Ever since I have known her she has gone above and beyond in order to reach her goals. She has morning practices and practices after practices. She lifts daily after practice and always finds extra practices in other rooms on weekends. She is her own worst critic. She continuously watches video of herself wrestling and works to fix mistakes and improve on her technique. She is super coachable and applies everything that is taught to her on the mat.

“Last December, Bella tore her labrum in her shoulder while wrestling. She was told that she could have surgery then but would be out for the rest of the season. She chose to endure the pain and finish out the season. Later in January of that same season, she tore the labrum in her hip and injured some ligaments in her knee. I thought at this time her season and maybe even her career were over. But three weeks later she limped onto the mat and won her third straight state championship.”

Badon also enthusiastically credits coaches Cassidy Ferrell, Michael Scott, Anthony Hagee and Junior Hernandez for helping in her development, as well as the inspiration and instruction from her father (Doug) and brother (Hunter).

“My brother’s the whole reason I started wrestling,” Badon said. “He’s seven years older than me and when I was young I would watch him wrestle and he would dominate on the mat. I thought he was so awesome and I still think he’s so amazing, and want to be as good as him.”

Badon plans to wrestle in college at Presbyterian, Lyon (Arkansas) or Gammon (Pennsylvania). She hopes to wrestle in the Olympics as well. And after this season, it’d be difficult to count her out.

Even the optimistic, passionate Badon was skeptical about getting a fourth title.

“Every time that I did it was amazing,” she said, “but this time was like the most amazing.”

Player of the week

This week’s player of the week is David Crockett’s Avery Kibelbek. Avery has been a leader on the mat this season and ended her season with a state championship. Check back next week to see the following Andrew Johnson Bank Player of the Week.

South Central Baseball gets a taste of the big leagues

The South Central Elementary School Baseball Team recently practiced with two professional baseball players.

From STAFF REPORTS

CHUCKEY – The South Central Elementary Baseball Team recently spent the day with two baseball players, Hector Lujan of the Twins organization and Reed Hayes of the Oriels organization.

The two players participated in a coaching clinic for the South Central Wildcat team. The players and coaches were excited for the opportunity to get some big league tips from players who have made it to the majors.

“This was a rare opportunity for middle school students to get coached and ask questions of these two amazing players.” SCES Head Baseball Coach Dearstone said.

Jordan Byrd, one of the eighth grade students hoping to be the starting pitcher for the Wildcats this year, said, “The big league pitchers were very helpful. They showed us how to take care of our arms and showed us the fundamentals of pitching and the sport.”

This month, Lujan and Hayes will head off to spring training.