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Simmons Says - Tuesday was special

Nobody better exemplified Tuesday's WCHS dominance than Lady Pioneer Madison Hollis (Brent Carden photo)

It may not be hyperbole to say Tuesday, April 13 could be one of the best days for WCHS sports in decades. Certainly, there have been higher stakes for an individual team to achieve or more memorable singular victories, but I’m not sure I can remember a day in my coverage where Warren County, across the board, looked more dominant.

Think about it – Warren County has three team sports in the spring and all won with shutouts against District 6AAA foes. Not only that, but two of the victories – both on the diamond – were absolutely pivotal when it came to the race for a district crown. It only gets sweeter knowing they came against schools – Cookeville and White County - many would consider two of the four biggest rivals for the Pioneers and Lady Pioneers (DeKalb County and Coffee County also are in contention for biggest yearly rival).

The Lady Pioneer softball team sent a message to those in Sparta thinking they may have gotten the upper hand last week. Warren County has played for the title in each of the last four completed seasons dating back to 2016. They won titles in 2017 and 2018 (not to mention a region title in 2019). Rhealee Johnson, Elia Atterson, Madison Hollis and the rest of the crew aren’t going to surrender their crown easily.

Hollis threw a gem in a 4-0 shutout, never allowing a runner to get past second base. She’s always going to be the ace up coach Gooby Martin’s sleeve – there are good players and pitchers all across District 6AAA (including two in Sparta), but there’s nobody who has Hollis’ big-game credentials in the circle.

While the Lady Pioneers were taking care of business in Sparta, the Pioneer baseball and soccer teams were making sure they didn’t have to work overtime at home. On the diamond, the Pioneers cruised to a 6-0 win over Cookeville, finally playing from the lead for the first time in district outings. Just 100 yards away, the Pioneer soccer team absolutely annihilated White County 9-0, ending the game with 20-plus minutes to spare.

I had a chance to talk to all three coaches at the high school Tuesday. My impression after all three conversations was there is clear confidence oozing out of Warren County right now.

WCHS soccer, baseball and softball are all in contention for district titles this spring


Coach Phillip King knows if his Pioneers put it all together on the right nights, they can compete with anybody in the state. Same for Matt Jackson, who has what looks to be his best group since taking over the soccer program (aside from last year’s lost group). As for Gooby, he knows district title talent when he sees it – there’s plenty of it in the Lady Pioneer locker room.

When I hear them talk about their teams, it gets me thinking about what my dream night of spring coverage has always been. Just one time, I want to roll up at Warren County High School and see the lights on at all three fields for a night of region battles.

It would take all three teams winning their district tournaments, but I think it can happen this year. I was adamant that it would happen last year, but I’ll accept the year delay. There are still plenty of games left to be played, but it’s great to know that all three could be trending toward region berths, a feat that could make this the best sports school year in Warren County history.

Here’s the kicker – those shutouts weren’t the only highlights.

The Lady Pioneer track team set FOUR school records Tuesday and our WCHS boys tennis team drilled Cumberland County on the road. If you haven’t learned their names by now, write these down: Ella VanVranken, Ally Beneke and Alessandro Prando.

All three are co-op athletes for Warren County this spring (VanVranken and Beneke from DeKalb for track, Prando from Grundy for tennis). VanVranken and Beneke have both already set school records and look destined to make it to state, while Prando will likely challenge for – at the very least – a region bid as an individual.

That’s not even beginning to touch on the track talent though. Katie Toney, better known for her all-state soccer skills, is going to set the school record in the 400 soon. Warren County’s 4x200 relay teams are also going to have their names on the wall at Charlie Dalton Gym soon.

It’s going to be a great spring, so buckle up. We’re only getting started with covering the best of the best in Warren County athletics!

Reminder: Get your questions in for the next Simmons Says Mailbag! Best question wins a WCSA shirt --- email

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