ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Signal Mountain's Hunter Davis, left, acknowledges his teammates after hitting a two-run double to give the Eagles the lead during their Class AA sectional against visiting DeKalb County on Friday.

Having watched two curveballs bounce in the dirt at his feet, Hunter Davis was confident the next pitch he saw would be a fastball.

Signal Mountain's senior slugger then put an exclamation to his expectation when he timed the offering just right, lining a two-out double to the wall in right-center field and breaking a fifth-inning tie with two RBIs.

From there, Samuel Witherspoon worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the sixth and Ben Timblin closed out the 3-1 win over DeKalb County in Friday night's Class AA sectional, sending the Eagles to next week's Spring Fling state tournament.

"I wasn't sure that hit was going to get down at first," said Davis, who went 2-for-3. "I thought one of their outfielders might get to it and catch it, so I was worried until I saw it bounce. That was a great feeling.

"We were going to be a good team last year, but the season got taken away from us (due to COVID-19) and we never got a chance to even play. So this is pretty special for us seniors to get the chance to go on and play in the state tournament."

The Eagles (26-8) outhit DeKalb 9-3, with Carter Giles going 2-for-2 and Witherspoon striking out six batters. After Witherspoon put himself in a bind by issuing a two-out walk and then hitting back-to-back batters in the sixth, he calmly coaxed a groundout to end the threat.

some text
Staff photo by Robin Rudd / Samuel Witherspoon pitches for Signal Mountain during Friday's Class AA sectional against visiting DeKalb County. Witherspoon worked out of a sixth-inning jam to help the Eagles win 3-1 and move on to the Spring Fling next week.

4 takeaways from Friday:

Tyner finds its coach

After a five-month wait to find its new football coach — which included Tyrus Ward resigning in April, just one month after taking over — the Rams announced Friday morning that Scott Chandler will guide the program. Chandler had been Ooltewah's coach the past three seasons before stepping down in February and said he was excited for not only a fresh start at a new school, but also that chance to take over an established perennial playoff contender.

"You look around at all the region championship plaques and start realizing how many playoff runs they've made, and you just say 'wow'," Chandler said. "Then again, I know we have to continue that tradition now."

Chandler inherits a program that has won 16 region titles and reached the playoffs 27 times in the past 30 seasons, with those postseason runs including three state championship game appearances and the Class 2A title in 1997.

When Ward stepped down he said at the time it was a decision that would allow him to pursue "other coaching options." Ward, who had taken over at Tyner for legendary former coach Wayne Turner, has not yet joined another coaching staff. Turner resigned at the end of last season after guiding the program for 30 years and is now a defensive assistant at East Hamilton.

some text
Staff file photo by Robin Rudd / Former Ooltewah football coach Scott Chandler is now in charge at Tyner.

Gordon Lee on the brink

If Gordon Lee is to win its third GHSA baseball championship in four years, the Trojans will have to — for the second series in a row — prevail in a winner-take-all game three.

Gordon Lee, the top-ranked team in Class A public, split with Metter on Friday in a doubleheader start to a best-of-three title series in Savannah. The Trojans won the opener 7-4 before losing 2-1 in the nightcap. Game three is at noon Saturday.

The Trojans (36-4), who won titles in 2018 (in Savannah) and 2019 and were ranked No. 1 in 2020 when the season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic, used a two-run home run from Blake Rodgers and two RBIs from Jacob Neal and Brody Cobb to take game one.

some text
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Baylor's Raven Jones connects with a pitch in the first inning of the second game of Friday's doubleheader against visiting Briarcrest in the Division II-AA state quarterfinals.

Chattanooga clout continues

Three of the four teams that qualified for the Division II-AA softball state tournament are from Chattanooga. Baylor, which has won the past five state titles and has 13 championships overall, swept a doubleheader over Briarcrest, 12-0 and 18-1 — compiling 15 extra-base hits in the two games, including six home runs — and will be joined by Chattanooga Christian School and GPS.

CCS used a seventh inning four-run rally on the road to knock off favored Brentwood Academy 5-2 Friday and earn a shot at playing the Lady Red Raiders — who already own a pair of regular-season wins over the Lady Chargers. In Friday's win, Madison Vandergriff drove in a pair of runs for CCS, while Lauren McGill, Erin Matthews, Lauren Kay each also had an RBI and Savannah Ricketts was 2-for-3. Senior pitcher Emily Day, who scattered eight hits, threw a total of 361 pitches in the two-day series.

GPS, which won its most recent of eight state titles in 2014, advanced on Thursday by sweeping Pope John Paul II in a doubleheader by a combined score of 23-0 and will face St. Benedict in the opening round of the Spring Fling.

 

Not just a football power

For decades, South Pittsburg has been known for its football program, which has played for 12 state titles and won five. However, in addition to the football team reaching the state title game in December, the school's boys' basketball team also won its second straight district championship this season, and on Friday the baseball Pirates advanced to the Spring Fling for the fifth time in program history and second time in four years.

After scoring four runs in the first inning, they added three more in the second to take command, then ended their Class A sectional in the fifth with three more runs to invoke the run rule, 10-0 over visiting Eagleville.

Senior Reece Genter went 2-for-3 with a pair of home runs — both in the first two innings — and five RBIs. Hunter Powers was 3-for-3 with a homer and a double, Jackson Lewis went 2-for-3 with two runs and Brayden Sanders was 2-for-3 with an RBI.

Freshman Luke Rector went the distance on the mound, allowing just three hits and striking out four. He also worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the fourth.

"We had been giving up early runs lately, so to put that pretty on them early really set a good tone," Pirates coach J.D. Genter said. "Luke pitched a heck of a game, and we've got some kids who are swinging the bat really well for us at the right time now."

some text
Staff photo by Matt Hamilton / Baylor softball coach Kelli Smith congratulates Ace Sellers after she homered in the first inning of Friday's second home game against Briarcrest.

Friday's prep scoreboard

BASEBALL

Class AAA sectionals

McMinn County 2, Stewarts Creek 1

Siegel 2, Bradley Central 0

Class AA sectional

Signal Mountain 3, DeKalb County 1

Watertown 5, Hixson 0

Class A sectional

South Pittsburg 10, Eagleville 0

Division II-AA

McCallie 4-5, Lipscomb Academy 0-3

SOCCER

Division II-AA state quarterfinal

Baylor 2, Chattanooga Christian 0

SOFTBALL

Class AAA sectional

Coffee County 2, Soddy-Daisy 1

Class AA sectional

Sequatchie County 4, Meigs County 0

Division II-AA state quarterfinal

Chattanooga Christian 5, Brentwood Academy 2

Baylor 12-18, Briarcrest 0-1

 

Saturday's prep schedule

BASEBALL

GHSA finals

Class A public

Gordon Lee vs. Metter at Savannah, noon

SOCCER

Class A sectionals

Smith County at Signal Mountain

Arts & Sciences at Merrol Hyde

Class AA sectionals

Howard at Cumberland County

DeKalb County at Red Bank, 6

Class AAA sectionals

Columbia at Ooltewah

Cleveland at Murfreesboro Oakland

Division II-A state quarterfinal

Boyd Buchanan at Lausanne

Division II-AA state quarterfinal

McCallie at MBA, 6

SOFTBALL

Class A sectional

Greenback at Sale Creek, noon

Class AA sectional

Upperman at Red Bank, 6:30

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT