After the three opening round games will be played at the home of the higher seeds Friday, all seven district teams are slated to gather at Rhea County High School’s new softball field for five games Saturday, the same day local weather prognosticators are forecasting another two inches of rain for the entire Southeast Tennessee area.
“We’ll schedule them (the games) and then have to adjust if it rains any out,” declared Rhea County AD and tournament director Micah Ruehling. “Your (district) bylines state that they are to be played on the next available day which will be Sunday, but we will adjust the game times, so we are not starting games until the afternoon.”
The only problem with that plan is the incoming rain is expected to still be around Sunday, plus possibly linger through Monday and Tuesday. The TSSAA requires district tournaments to be completed by May 10.
Top seeded Walker Valley has its graduation on May 9. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to get everything wrapped up before then,” declared Lady Mustang head coach Lauren Limburg, who was voted District Coach of the Year at the meeting after Walker Valley posted a perfect 12-0 5-AAA mark during the regular season.
As the No. 1 seed, Walker Valley (24-4) will not until Saturday at 1 p.m. against the winner of Friday’s game between fourth-ranked Ooltewah (19-14, 5-7) and McMinn County (13-21, 5-7).
“The girls have worked really hard. I’m proud of the season we’ve had, but now that doesn’t mean anything as everybody is back to even,” remarked coach Limburg. “We have to take every game, every pitch seriously and keep focused.”
Led by the pitching of Austin Peay signee Sidney Hooper and the hitting of sophomore sluggers Hallie Davis (11 home runs, 14 doubles) and AJ Chancey (10 HRs), Walker Valley is new to the role of favorite with second-seeded Soddy-Daisy (23-11, 10-2) having played in the last three state championship games, wining twice.
With a trio of starters on the bench and committing four fielding errors, the Lady Mustangs suffered their first loss in 3 1/2 weeks Wednesday evening, falling to District 6-AA regular season champ East Hamilton 4-1.
“We have got to play our game. Tonight wasn’t our type of performance,” the Lady Mustang mentor remarked afterward.
Bradley Central and Cleveland High will open district tournament play on the road Friday with the sixth-seeded Bearettes (8-17, 4-8) traveling to No. 3 Rhea County (20-15, 6-6) for a 6:30 start, while the Lady Raiders (0-28, 0-12) will journey to Soddy for a 6 p.m. first pitch.
Bradley and Rhea split their two regular season district games with the Bearettes winning 9-5 at Bob McKenzie Field, while the Lady Eagles prevailed in a 12-11 tooth-and-nail battle on their home diamond. The girls from Evensville also own a 16-0 shellacking over the Black-and-Gold in the Meigs County Tournament.
The defending state champion Lady Trojans got past Cleveland by scores of 9-2 and 14-2 during the regular campaign.
Depending on the weekend weather, the double-elimination tournament is slated to have its winners bracket final and an elimination game Monday, with the loser’s bracket final and championship game slated for Tuesday. If a second title game is necessary, it is planned for Wednesday evening at 6:30.