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Softball showdown between UC, OC ignites spring fire

Softball showdown between UC, OC ignites spring fire
Though Mother Nature may not be ready to cooperate, the spring sports season is on the horizon.
With the completion of the prep basketball seasons looming, spring sports play is set to officially begin Monday (weather permitting).
For starters, Union City and Obion Central will face off in the newly-refurbished Lady Rebel Field Monday with new bleachers in the hillside, lights, enclosed dugouts, a backstop block wall and backstop netting along with a blue windscreen around the outfield fence at the Troy facility.
Overall, UC will field a total of six spring squads, with baseball, softball, girls’ tennis, boys’ tennis, girls’ track and boys’ track teams competing throughout the final months of the school year.
Meanwhile, Obion Central will offer baseball, softball and both boys’ and girls’ tennis.
South Fulton will take part in baseball and softball, with a boys’ and girls’ track team, as well.
The following is a preview of the upcoming teams and seasons.
BASEBALL
Union City and head coach David Barker could have a sour taste in their mouths after being eliminated last season in the early stages of the double-elimination District 14A Tournament.
However, this year’s Tornadoes could stamp out the team’s bad tastebuds with a second district title in three years if all goes well for the locals.
The Twisters will return 2007 all-stater Craig Lowrance, who posted an 11-1 record last season and an 1.78 earned run average while also leading his team at the plate with its highest batting average. Lowrance underwent surgery, in which he had a rib removed to dissolve a blood clot in his pitching shoulder, during the offseason.
Camron Sherwood will also see time on the mound, where is feared for his control and speed change.
UC has also added the services of a proven winner to its bench with Jeremy Maddox — who led McKenzie to the Class A state championship in 2006 — taking on the role as Barker’s assistant.
Union City begins its season Tuesday at the Tomahawk Classic in Jackson. The Tornadoes take on Dyer County at 6 p.m. and Adamsville at 8 p.m.
UC will also host the St. Jude Classic March 26 through March 29 at L.H. Ladd Field.
At Obion Central and South Fulton, both teams have fresh meat in the dugout as head coaches.
Rusty Davis takes over the bench at OC, while Jeremy McFarland gets the reins to the SF program that he played for in the mid-1990s.
The Rebels will return Brady Boucher on the hill as the team looks to rebound from a trio of consecutive 20-loss seasons. Last season’s OC squad posted a mark of 9-26 under John Buchanan, who resigned his post following the completion of the campaign.
Central’s 2008 campaign kicks off Monday at 7 p.m. in Troy against Trenton. The Rebels host county-cousin South Fulton Tuesday evening.
South Fulton’s new era begins with a program that suffered a less than 10-win season (6-20) for the first time in 14 years.
McFarland’s top threat is senior Daniel King, who hit .288 last season while logging 53 innings on the mound with 86 strikeouts for the Devils. Also key to the program is Jacob Wade, a .241 hitter as an eighth-grader a year ago.
McFarland will be joined by fellow ex-Redman Greg Barclay in the dugout.
SF’s first three games under the new regime are on the road. South Fulton travels to Westview on Monday, Central on Tuesday and Lake County on Thursday. McFarland makes his home debut as head man March 18 against Trenton.
The Red Devils will again host the Ken-Tenn Classic at the end of this month.
SOFTBALL
Union City’s softball squad made history last season, but that is now just that — history.
Under rookie skipper Shane Sisco last season, UC tied a record for most victories (17) in a season and advanced to the region semifinals for the first time in school history.
This season, the Lady Twisters’ will have a two-headed mound monster comprised of Corey Anne Youree and Karly Hollis.
Youree was an All-District pitcher last season, while Hollis led the team in strikeouts. Also returning is last year’s RBI queen Allison McCullough and base-stealing threat Paige Fisher.
At Obion Central, senior Erin Bing is lauded as a good arm and three-year starter with All-District 13AA team members Olivia Grady and Kacee Eaves also among the Lady Rebels returning from a team that posted a 17-11 mark last season under Jeanna Walker.
At South Fulton, head coach Curt Lee will attempt to pilot his Lady Devilettes’ ship to its 11th district championship of the past dozen years.
Lee, who starts the season just four wins shy of his 200th victory (196-53), will depend upon senior pitcher Melissa Reams and up-and-coming sophomore outfielder Katie Bivens this season.
SF — which posted a school-best 27-6 record last season — will begin its campaign on March 18th with a twinbill against Dyer County.
TENNIS
New faces will be in both places for prep tennis in Obion County.
Jason Deem takes over the Union City tennis squad’s coaching duties from Jacob Cross, while 2001 OCCHS graduate Sarah Frazier is set to lead the Rebels.
UC, coming of a District 7A/AA team title last year, returns one-half of its district championship girls’ doubles team with Caroline Kirkland returning to the court.
On the boys’ side, Ben Woods and will provide a returning No. 1 for the Tornadoes.
UC takes to the court Tuesday against Milan at home.
At Central, Matt Moore is a returning junior with the senior trio of Shannon Trout, Jessica Crackel and Rachel Roberson poised to lead the Lady Rebels.
TRACK
In Union City, second-year coach Michael Hart got a taste of the state championships last year when Jeremy Simpson made it to the event in the 200-meter and the UC team is hungry for more.
Meanwhile, South Fulton will see Brent Wilson take over the team’s fortunes.
Overall, Union City will compete in five regular-season meets this spring including the 31st Annual Rotary Relays at War Memorial Stadium. South Fulton is also set to compete in the event.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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