|All or nothing is attitude for each local prep entry today |
|It’s win or else. |
Sometime this evening, respective prep seasons for two local softball teams, a baseball squad and a handful of tennis players will either be extended through the week or over as regional tournament play and its implications begin at a number of venues.
In both softball and baseball, victories today will earn teams not only a spot in Wednesday’s regional championship games, but also a berth in Friday’s sectionals, as well. Today’s losers will be eliminated from further competition.
Union City will have a pair of teams in action as well as four tennis players, while South Fulton is making its customary appearance in the region softball tourney.
The Tornado baseball squad — fresh off a District 14A Tournament championship — will play host to McKenzie at 6:30 at Elam Stadium.
UC (16-14-1) finally climbed over the .500 mark after winning just one of its first 10 games this season with victories in all four of its district tourney outings.
The Twisters will be making their 17th regional tournament appearance since 1976 and looking to secure a sectional slot for just the second time in the past 12 seasons.
The contest is sure to stir up mixed emotions for Union City assistant coach Jeremy Maddox, who piloted McKenzie to the Class A state championship two years ago.
The Rebels will come in with a 23-8 record after finishing as District 13A runner-up to Huntingdon.
Union City’s record-setting softball team — in the midst of just the third winning season in the program’s 15-year history — will look to make another mark on the school page of firsts when it plays at Huntingdon at 5 p.m.
The Lady Tornadoes (23-15) have already carved a place in the UCHS annals with their victory total, but the program has never won a game in the regional tournament.
Last season, in fact, was Union City’s first-ever trip to the region, and Huntingdon spoiled that feat by ousting the locals in a 12-0 washout.
In today’s rematch, the Fillies will send ace hurler Brooke Thomas to the hill hoping she can duplicate a regular season effort against the Twisters in which she no-hit the locals in a 3-0 Huntingdon victory.
Thomas, though, may be a bit sore after a hip flexor injury suffered in the District 13A title win over McKenzie.
The stage is relatively old-hat for South Fulton (21-8), which will be making its 12th consecutive appearance in the region semifinals when it hosts McKenzie (11-13) at 5 o’clock.
Devilette head coach Curt Lee has turned SF into a perennial rural West Tennessee power with 217 victories in his 10 seasons at the helm that have included sectional berths in nine of those campaigns. South Fulton has made the state tournament five times during that span, finishing third, fourth twice and fifth twice.
This particular edition of the Devilettes is dominated by youth as three starters are eighth graders with the roster listing just two seniors.
Also, berths in the TSSAA State Tournament are on the line for four Union City tennis standouts at the Region 7A-AA Tournament on the UT Martin campus this afternoon.
Union City’s Ben Woods, the District 14A-AA boys’ singles champion, will take on University School of Jackson’s Ben Gaines in the region semifinals set to begin today at 2.
Meanwhile in a girls’ regional semifinal match, 14A-AA girls’ runner-up Caroline Kirkland has a tough test ahead of her in the person of USJ’s Madison Patey — who finished last season as the state runner-up.
In girls’ doubles action, Union City’s duo of Rachel Triplett and Sara Gilliam — the 14A-AA runner-up — will take on the District 13A-AA championship team from Trinity Christian Academy, Christa Hutchison and Crickett Glenn.
Regional semifinal winners will advance to the event’s final round later this afternoon.