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Postseason continues for local teams

The postseason is the ultimate proving ground. Things can change in the matter of seconds and seasons can end in a blink. Warren County has several teams fighting to keep their seasons going right now, along with a few athletes making pushes for state bids.

The Lady Pioneer softball squad, along with the Pioneer baseball and soccer teams, will be in action this week in their respective District 6-4A tournaments. While WCHS teams fight for district supremacy this week, the WCMS softball team and members of the WCMS and WCHS track teams are looking to make it all the way to state tournaments.

Entering this week of action, only the Lady Pioneers have assured themselves a spot in the region, but both coach Phillip King and August Palombo are hoping to secure bids in coming days.

Coach Gooby Martin saw his Lady Pioneers take over pole position in the District 6-4A softball tourney with a 3-1 win Friday in Manchester. When Warren County took out Coffee County – handing the Lady Raiders their first loss in district play this season – it meant the Lady Pioneers could do no worse than second in the tournament. With the top two teams earning bids to the region, Warren County can rest assured it’ll have more games next week.

The Lady Pioneers also won the right to host the district championship Wednesday night. The title game is currently scheduled for 6 p.m. (with a potential if-necessary game to be played right after if the Lady Pioneers fall in Game 1). Stay tuned to the WCSA on social media for possible broadcast details.

After Friday’s win, the Lady Pioneers were jubilant. They had a big celebration on a muddy field in Manchester, one coach Martin hopes is followed with even more winning this week.

“I’m proud of this team – they play hard and they play for each other,” said Martin after the game. “It’s a huge win for us, but we still have business to take care of.”

The Pioneers, both on the diamond and the pitch, know all about unfinished business. They are in true survival mode in the district tourney – one loss could mean the end of the road for either.

The baseball team will have its season on the line Monday at 7 p.m. in Manchester. They’ll go into the matchup without the benefit of any preparation for their opponent – Shelbyville and Franklin County are matching up at 4:30 p.m. and the loser has a back-to-back against the Pioneers. Warren County is 3-1 vs. Shelbyville this year, but just 1-3 against the Rebels.

Warren County fell into the loser’s bracket Saturday, falling to Coffee County 5-3. Easton Denning tried to rally the Pioneers late, hitting a three-run double with two outs in the seventh, but the group couldn’t complete a dramatic comeback on the road.

One positive from the loss was the Pioneers emerged without losing any of their rotation – seniors True Craven (42 pitches) and Layne Roberts (55) split duties and kept their pitch count low (55 was the maximum either could throw before triggering a mandatory two-day rest). The Pioneers also have senior Kyle Johnson, junior Hayden Collins and sophomore Baler Melton (the team’s traditional Day 2 starter in district games) fresh for Monday.

Warren County must win Monday, then follow up with a victory Tuesday at 7 p.m. (against the loser of the winner’s bracket finals) to book a ticket to the region tournament. The District 6-4A baseball tournament finals are set for Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. (with an if-necessary game scheduled listed to start at 7 p.m.). The baseball tourney is being played in Manchester.

The path to a region is much more straight forward for Pioneer soccer: beat Shelbyville and they have their pass to the next round. While the plan is simple, but task won’t be easy. The Eagles won the last regular season matchup 9-0 (after winning the first matchup 3-0). It’s also a road game as the Pioneers will travel to Shelbyville Tuesday.

Back at home Tuesday, the WCMS Lady Pioneers will be making their second straight appearance in the TMSAA sectionals. It’s just the second year the state has run a full postseason bracket to declare a state champion and the Lady Pioneers have been one of the last teams battling each year.

Warren County won’t know its opponent until late Monday night, but the group is assured to have home-field advantage for its first sectional game. With a win, the Lady Pioneers would move to the sectional finals (scheduled for Saturday, May 14) and play for a bid to the TMSAA state tournament.

In track, the WCMS track team will be sending 13 athletes to Riverdale Monday to compete for a state bid. All the Lady Pioneers and Pioneers will be looking to finish in the top four for their respective events so they can earn a spot in the state tournament (to be held Saturday, May 21 at Franklin High School). Among the favorites from WCMS to get a bid are the boys 4x400 relay team (currently holding the fastest QT in the event), Lady Pioneer speedster Ariyanna Rippy and Pioneer shot putter Luke Saldana.

Read more about the WCMS track team pushing for state here:

The high school track team, like it’s been the last two springs, was once again anchored by school record breakers to earn bids in the TSSAA sectionals. Warren County will have 12 representatives making their way to the sectionals Tuesday in Cookeville, including a few who just rewrote the school record book.

Junior phenom Kyra Perkins booked a spot in the sectionals in two events, the 200 and the long jump. In the later, she did it with a win and a record-breaking leap. Perkins, who broke the school long jump record last year, completely shattered her own record last week, soaring 16-feet, 11-inches to win at Rhea County. It was nearly a foot better than her mark from last year (16’0.5”) at sectionals.

Perkins placed third in the 200 with a time of 26.92 seconds (just .22 seconds behind Courtney Martin’s school record - 26.7 seconds - set in 2001).

The boys 4x200 relay team, featuring Donathan Lewis, Uriah King, Julian Martinez and D’Andre Jackson, also came out of subsectionals with a school record. The Pioneers ran the event in 1:33.85, good for second, to earn a bid to sectionals. Lewis, King and Martinez were a part of the 4x200 team that set the mark last year at 1:36.01 (it had stood for 23 years at 1:36.2 prior to last spring).

Lewis was also an individual qualifier in the 100, blazing to a 11.44-second time while finishing third. The sophomore is within range of Rad Davenport’s school-best time of 11.0 seconds set in 1999.

While Ally Beneke couldn’t top her school record leap in the high jump last week, she still was going high enough to win at subsectionals. The impressive junior, who was fifth in the state last year, won the event with a mark of 5-foot-4. Beneke still has the best leap in the state this year, clearing 5-foot-7 in Cookeville April 12 (which is the new WCHS record).

Ella van Vranken was a dual qualifier, winning both the 800 and 1600 at the subsectional held at Rhea County May 3. The Lady Pioneer sophomore, who owns the school record in both events (along with the 400 and 3,200) ran 2:26.87 to win the 800 and crossed the line first in the 1,600 at 5:22.14. She qualified for state in both events last year and looks poised to make a return this year.

Other individuals headed for Cookeville this week are Aaron Gottlied (in the 1,600) and Savannah Winfree (300 hurdles). Both placed third in their respective events at subsectionals. Gottlied was one-tenth of a second from also qualifying in the 800.

The 4x100 boys and girls relay teams, along with the 4x200 girls relay runners, will also be in Cookeville Tuesday.

Make sure to follow the WCSA for the latest breaking news on postseason action. Find us on Facebook and Twitter (@The_WCSA).

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