On Wednesday the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association made two announcements, each influenced by COVID-19, that will affect spring sports attendance guidelines as well as changes to the annual Spring Fling format.
The state's high school sports governing body informed its member schools that masks and social distancing are no longer a requirement at sporting events. The measure do, however, remain a recommendation.
The decision was made after consulting with the governor's office.
"We are not seeing people at outdoor venues wearing (masks) anyway," TSSAA executive director Bernard Childress told the Tennessean. "We do see them sitting away from each other."
Masks had been mandated at all sports venues since the school year began and the TSSAA does continue to recommend that capacities be limited to a number that will allow for social distancing.
The TSSAA also announced that the championship sites for baseball as well as track & field will be moved from the Middle Tennessee State University campus to high school venues in Rutherford County. That move was necessitated by MTSU's capacity limits at its venues, which is part of its coronavirus policy.
Last year's Spring Fling was cancelled due to the pandemic and this year's spring sports state tournament will run from May 25 through May 28.
The track & field championships will be held at Rockvale High, while baseball championship games will be played at the high schools sites scheduled to host quarterfinal and semifinal rounds.
The championships for the seven sports will be held at 13 different venues in and around Murfreesboro. The boys' soccer tournament will be held at the Richard Siegel Soccer Complex, softball will be played at McKnight and StarPlex Fields, tennis at the Old Fort Park Tennis Complex. Each of those championship sites remain the same as they were before the pandemic.
Eight high schools will host baseball state tournament games, with all of Division II-A being played at Middle Tennessee Christian and all of D-II AA at Wilson Central.
For public school classifications, Riverdale and Stewarts Creek will host Class A, Smyrna and Blackman will host Class AA, while Oakland and Siegel will host the AAA tournament. Once those classifications move into the championship round, Blackman will host the Class A title games, Siegel will host AA and Oakland AAA.
Tickets for all Spring Fling events will be sold in advance on GoFan.
South Pittsburg 19, Lookout Valley 0: Senior Hunter Powers had a home run and drove in five runs for the Pirates and Ryan Cagle went 2-for 3, including a homer and four RBIs. Reece Genter, Jackson Lewis and Michael Lewis all drove in a pair of runs as well and five pitchers combined to allow just two hits for the Pirates.
Hixson 17, Howard 5: Manny Velazquez tripled and homered while he and Kane Johnson (3-for-4, three stolen bases) combined to drive in nine runs. The Wildcats were also led by Brad Dossett who had a pair of hits and RBIs. Howard's Jacobi Dixon went 2-for-3 with a RBI double while De'oriean Elder also had two hits and scored twice. The Wildcats also won the second game of the double header 20-1 as Velazquez scored three runs and drove in two more.
Soddy-Daisy 7, GPS 5: Jenna Sims went 3-for-3 and hit a grand slam in the first inning for the Lady Trojans who broke a 5-5 tie later when Tatum Massengale singled in the go-ahead run in the fourth and provided insurance with an RBI on a sacrifice bunt in the bottom of the sixth. Sims also delivered 3 1/3 innings of shutout relief to pick up the victory.
* Arts & Sciences handed Notre Dame's girls' tennis program its first loss of the season as Sunshine Fennell stood out winning her singles match 8-3 while winning 8-1 in doubles with Olivia Porterfield. Kendall Berry also landed a pair of victories for the Lady Patriots. Meanwhile, Notre Dame's boys won 7-2 as Scott Steele, Patrick Osborne and Evan Nowell stood out. CSAS' Anay Patel won the No. 1 singles match 9-7 over Sam Phillips.
* McCallie defeated Chattanooga Christian, 7-0, to improve to 8-0 overall this season. The Blue Tornado were recently ranked third nationally by Universal Tennis' website. Richy Jing posted 6-0 shutouts in singles play along with Russell Fairman, while Charlie Griffin and Charlie Park also stood out.
The Tennessee Sports Writers Association announced its all-state list for wrestling and the Chattanooga area had a dominating number of athletes honored.
In Class A/AA, Signal Mountain's Ethan Uhorchuk (106 pounds), Caleb Uhorchuk (113), Noah Shriner (120), Daniel Uhorchuk (126), Kale Albritton (138), Kevin Muschel (182) and Preston Worley (195) were joined by Hixson's Trevor Lewis (126), Kobie Smith (160), Parrish Pacetti (22) and Landon Moore (285), as well as Whitwell's Brice Barton (132) and East Ridge's Perrin Clark (132).
Earning a spot on the AAA list were Cleveland's Logan Fowler (106), Bentley Ellison (113), Arlo Laxton (120), Charles Randall (126), Jackson Bradford (132), Trae McDaniel (138), Cody Chittum (145), Robert Laxton (152), Tetoe Boyd (182) and Ashton Davis (220). Also in AAA, Bradley Central's Bryson Terrell (106), Ethan Lipsey (113), Easton Lipsey (126), Luke Belcher (138), Anthony Lynn (145), Austin McClure (285) were joined by Walker Valley's Jaden Langford (285).
In Division II, Baylor's Kade Hartline (106), Nick Corday (113), Judson Jarrett (120), Jackson Bond (126), Micah Tisdale (138), Garrison Dendy (145), Anthony Mannella (160), Omaury Alvarez (170), Gunner Garriques (182) and David Harper (195) were joined by Boyd Buchanan's Tate Williams (113) and Connor Payne (132), McCallie's Jack Braman (126), Emory Taylor (152), Gavin Cagle (160), James Whitworth (170), Carson Gentle (220) and Lauren McDonald (285) and Notre Dame's Bob Deitch (113) and Luke Braman (126).
Sale Creek's Katie McNabb (170) was among those earning a spot on the girls' all-state team.