Although the chilly weather as of late might suggest other wise, the time for high school spring sports to get underway has arrived.
With the week’s high temperatures predicted to be in the 50s and 60s and lows in the 30s and 40s, fans will need to bundle up while heading out to see their favorite teams.
Mother Nature permitting, the local diamonds squads will open the TSSAA spring seasons with both baseball and softball action on tap Monday.
The District 5-AAA race will begin the new campaign as crosstown rivalries will be renewed from the start, with Cleveland High heading to the McKenzie Baseball Complex to face Bradley Central with a 7 p.m. opening pitch.
With the district home-and-home format, the venues will be flipped Tuesday as the Bears venture to Raider Field for another 7 p.m. start.
Meanwhile, Walker Valley, which made a TSSAA Final Four run last season, hopes its success carries over into the new season as the Mustangs journey to Athens to face McMinn County on Monday.
The Cherokees will make the trip down to play against the Mustangs at Mike Turner Field on Tuesday at 7 p.m.
According to the district by-laws, if Monday or Tuesday’s games get postponed (70 percent chance of rain Monday), then the teams will make them up on Wednesday.
Polk County’s baseball season will also open Monday with a District 5-AA game battle in Sweetwater at 5 p.m.
The two Wildcat squads will meet again in Benton for Polk’s home opener at 5 p.m. Tuesday.
Opening day isn’t just for the boys as girls’ fast-pitch softball also gets underway Monday with Walker Valley entertaining Chattanooga Central for a 5 p.m. first pitch at Larry Haney Field.
Polk County also starts its softball season off at home Monday, playing Rhea County at 5:30 p.m.
A district matchup between the Lady Wildcats and Sweetwater will take place Tuesday at home at 5:30 p.m.
Cleveland and Bradley Central get their softball seasons underway on Tuesday with 5-AAA battles.
The Lady Raiders will make the short trip to the north end of the county to face Walker Valley, while the Bearettes will host McMinn County. Both varsity games have 5 p.m. starts.
The boys soccer and tennis seasons will also begin on Tuesday.
On the pitch, Walker Valley will be the only local school road tripping it, as they take on East Ridge at Camp Jordan at 7 p.m.
Meanwhile, the Bears host McMinn Central at 5 p.m., while the Raiders host Notre Dame at 7 p.m.
At the Lee University DeVos Tennis Center Tuesday, the boys and girls teams from Bradley Central will take on county rival Walker Valley at 4:15 p.m.
Playing five games in four days, Walker Valley will be back on the softball diamond Wednesday for a doubleheader against visiting Hiwassee Dam (N.C.), with a 4:30 p.m. start planned.
On Thursday, track and field gets underway with an all comers meet at 4 p.m. taking place at Cleveland High.
Track and field looks to be very promising this year at Cleveland with a number of talented athletes included in their roster.
Atarah Abdullah-Muhammad followed in her mother’s footsteps and recently signed with Middle Tennessee State. Last year the senior set a school record in the triple jump with 35 feet, 11.25 inches.
She was a part of the 4x100 relay team that also set a school record and competed in the long jump at the state level.
Atarah will add events to her list this year as she is reported to compete in the 100 and 200 meter dash, high jump and pentathlon.
Younger sister Qetuwrah Abdullah-Muhammad is expected to have great success this year as well, following her third place state pentathlon finish last year.
The junior, who competed in the 100, 100 hurdles and the 4x100 relay, will also be broadening her event list with the addition of the 300 hurdles and all of the jumping events.
Junior Melissa Langford, cousin of the Abdullah-Muhammad sisters, finished fourth in the high jump during last year’s state prelims and is also slated to participate in the pentathlon, the 400, and 4x400 relay this season.
District play returns to the softball fields Thursday as Bradley will travel to Ooltewah, while Cleveland will play host to Soddy-Daisy, which has won two (2012, 2010) of the last three state championships, plus finished second in 2011.
Walker Valley will wrap up its five-game home stand with GPS paying a visit Thursday.
Bradley will also return to the soccer pitch Thursday evening at 7 with a short trip to Silverdale Baptist Academy in Chattanooga.
The Cleveland and Bradley tennis teams will duel Thursday at the Lee University courts, begining at 4 p.m.
The end of the week brings several teams playing in a number of different tournaments.
The Blue Raider soccer team will host the Cleveland Classic, with Walker Valley also participating in the three-day event.
Ooltewah and McMinn County will be co-hosting the tournament.
Games will be played at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex, Cleveland Middle School and Lee University.
The Raiders will be playing Dalton (Ga.) at 7:30 p.m. Thursday on the stadium field at the soccer complex.
On Friday, Cleveland will be facing off against Coffee County at 4:30 p.m., on the same field, while Walker Valley takes on Blackman at 6:30 p.m. over at Lee University.
Saturday serves as a double header for the Mustangs, as they play Knox West at 11 a.m. and Beech at 7:30 p.m. at Lee. Cleveland takes on Knox West at 3:30 p.m. at the soccer complex.
Thursday also marks the start of the 2013 Richard Edwards Playing for a Cure Classic, being held at McMinn County, McMinn Central and Walker Valley high schools.
This is the first year of the event named for the Charleston native who served for 34 years as a sports writer and managing editor of the Daily Post-Athenian. Just 57 years old, Edwards lost his battle with cancer last July 4th.
The special event begins Thursday at 4:30 p.m., and runs through Saturday.
Serving as a co-host, Walker Valley is slated to play Sweetwater Thursday at 7 p.m., Powell at the same time on Friday evening, and a pair of games Saturday against Knox Catholic at 2:30 and CAK at 7:30 p.m.
Polk County is also participating in the inagural event, taking on Cumberland County at 7 p.m. Thursday on the McMinn Central field.
The Wildcats will tangle with Harlan, Ky., on Friday at the same field and time.
Returning to Englewood Saturday, Polk will play Cookeville at 9:30 a.m. and Springfield at 2:30 p.m.
Bradley baseball will be heading to the Hixson Classic for the weekend.
The Bears will play a doubleheader Friday in Harrison, facing co-host Chattanooga Central at 4 and East Ridge at 6:45 p.m.
On Saturday, coach Travis Adams’ crew will tangle with the other co-host, Hixson at 12:45 p.m., before playing Tullahoma at 3 p.m. The event’s championship game will be played on Sunday at 2 p.m.
Cleveland is scheduled to be in the Scenic City Classic, which also runs Thursday through Saturday. Game time and opponents will be announced later this week.
As far as weekend softball goes, Cleveland will be participating in a tournament at Hixson, while Bradley and Polk County will do the same at the Tiger Classic Tournament in Athens. All of these tournaments run from Thursday through Saturday.
Banner assistant sports editor Joe Cannon contributed to this story.