(Spring)ing forward local programs turn back the clock

(Spring)ing forward local programs turn back the clock
Remember when?
It’s a weekly feature in The Messenger.
One that old and young alike reportedly enjoy.
However, a couple of the local spring sports programs have taken that phrase literally and brought back mentors that had a hand in the success of years gone by.
For starters, the Union City softball program tabbed Shane Sisco — whom the team enjoyed its greatest successes under — when Cristina Grimm resigned her duties on the first day of classes this school year after just one season at the helm.
Meanwhile, the UC tennis program reached back in its past in the hopes of finding a skipper capable of leading both its girls’ and boys’ teams to glory similar to that of yesteryear. Elizabeth Mooney, a member of both the 1999 and 2000 state runner-up teams at Union City, has taken over as the school’s net coach.
Two other new head coaches are in place as the season approaches.
The Obion Central baseball team selected Chris Smith as its next baseball coach. Justin Truett, son of former UC girls’ basketball coach Danny, will be the team’s lead assistant.
Finally, the OC tennis program has a new skipper as Terrence Moore — an English teacher at the school and Memphis Central/UT Martin product — takes over the reins.
The spring sports season begins on Monday with baseball action as South Fulton travels to Trenton and Obion Central goes to Crockett County.
Union City’s spring slate starts on Tuesday as the softball team travels to West Carroll, the tennis squads go to UT Martin for a match with Greenfield and the baseballers host Gibson County.
The only other local team to start the 2011 spring campaign next week is the Obion Central softball squad (Thursday at Bledsoe County).
BASEBALL
The diamond fortunes of the locals squads could certainly be on the upswing if last season is any indicator.
Union City ended up just one victory shy of a Class A State Tournament berth, while South Fulton (which eliminated top District 14A seed Trenton) and Obion Central (18-24) both showed vast improvement.
This year, the Twisters will look to an arsenal of arms to lead the way. Clay Treece, Caleb Long and Kevin Freeman are among the pitchers head coach Jeremy Maddox has at his disposal.
At OC, senior Dustin Smyth is one of the rotation’s anchors along with juniors Trey Phipps, Colton Woodward and Tanner Cary.
The Red Devils have sophomore Ryan Prince (pitcher/first base), senior Josh Clement (pitcher/catcher) and junior Kyle Clouse (shortstop/pitcher) on their “players to watch” list.
SOFTBALL
All three local squads have their work cut out for them.
Both South Fulton and Obion Central set records for most wins in a campaign last spring and Union City advanced to the region semifinals for just the third time in school history.
The Devilettes, who tied a program-best mark with a third-place finish at the Class A State Tournament, return All-State battery mates Haley McKinney (22-7 last year with a 1.50 earned run average) and Paxton Sisson (a .400 hitter who threw out 80 percent of would-be basestealers).
SF starts the season on March 24 at home against Bradford.
Obion Central senior center fielder Mandi McDaniel is a player to watch as she comes back from knee surgery, while classmate Leann Staser is a solid backstop. All totaled, the Lady Rebels lost eight players — mostly starters — to graduation.
The Lady Twisters’ are in a boat similar to that of OC after they graduated its senior core that included two starting pitchers, a first baseman, a second baseman and a catcher.
TENNIS
Junior Anna Moore in undoubtedly at the top of Union City’s tennis heap.
Already, Moore has advanced to the District 14A-AA semifinals twice during her prep career.
Meanwhile, the Rebel tennis team is looking to build upon a successful postseason tenure from a year ago when the squad advanced a duo to the 14A-AA semis for the first time in the three-year tenure of then-skipper Sarah Frazier.
The OC tennis teams begin the 2011 season on March 28 at home against Covington.
TRACK AND FIELD
All eyes may be on the child of boys’ track coach Darren Bowling.
Chase Bowling punched his ticket to Murfreesboro last year and competed in the Class A-AA State Championship Meet as a discus thrower.
Then again, plenty of new squad members on both the girls’ and boys’ side have sectional experience from their tenure at Union City Middle School that are under the watch of the elder Bowling and girls’ coach Preston Martin.
The UC thinclads begin the campaign on March 21 with a quad meet at University School of Jackson. Their first full-blown meet is April 1 at the Dyersburg Invitational.
The Rotary Relays event, which was wiped off the slate due to track issues at Union City, is also back and set for May 5.
BOYS’ SOCCER
South Fulton is joining the ranks with its inaugural boys’ soccer season.
Meanwhile, the Obion Central guys have a tough act to follow as their female counterparts made it to within a triumph of the sectional round of the playoffs in only their second year of competition.
The Red Devil soccer team kicks off the season on March 21 at South Gibson. The OC guys do battle at Covington in their season opener the same evening.
Sports reporter Kenneth Coker can be contacted by e-mail at kcoker@ucmessenger.com.

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