DAVID HUNTER/The Cannon Courier
The Cannon County high school teams finished up the regular season on a high note heading into the all- important district tournament next week at various locations around it. Both the Lions and Lionettes ended 2016 with a victory in their final game, and now all three teams hope for a chance to compete for a district title and advance to the Region playoffs.
After a tough stretch of district losses recently, the Lionettes got back on track with an impressive 15-0 win in three innings over Boyd Christian on May 3 to end the season.
Before the last home contest of the season, five seniors were honored, including Livia Walker, Kelsie Smith, Bailey Sims, Jylian Jones and Madelynne Bogle. Also, all five of them got the start in the game.
"They have really stepped up and really been leaders," Lionettes head coach Brittany Cook said. "They hired a coach who does not have any experience, never played. It was a blessing to have them, so I could learn. They have done a great job of teaching me, helping me, and they have stepped up being positive role models at all times."
Junior Laura Beth Nichols pitched a one hitter for the Lionettes, while only giving up one walk and fanning four Lady Broncos in the short game. While the bats came alive for each of the players, including finishing off their opponents early with eight runs in the bottom of the third.
"I feel like I pitched pretty well," Nichols said. "I could not do it without my teammates building me up and having my back when they do hit. They just build my confidence up and support me. It helps me pitch better."
Now, CCHS heads to Upperman for the District 8AA Tournament next week hoping to keep the momentum going and compete for a district title. It has earned the No. 5 seed and it played on May 9 at 9 a.m. against host Upperman in the opening round. The title game will be on Wednesday as the entire event is at Upperman. The top two teams will advance to the region tournament.
"It is pretty awesome to get a second chance, and it is almost like a new life," Sims said. "At the beginning of the season when we played some of the teams, we did not have (Jylian) Jones, or our positions set up. We were trying to get adjusted. This whole season we have been building up for the district tournament."
The Lions are also heading into their District 8AA postseason with some momentum after ending the regular season last week with a two game sweep over York, 5-2 on May 2 and 8-2 on May 3.
Before the home game on May 2, the seniors were honored, including Tucker Francis, Jared Judkins, Austin Martin, Briar Jakes, Baily Hale and Tristan Choate. Also, the baseball program got a new scoreboard in right field, which was used for the first time on the same night.
"They have led our young guys, because we have a big senior class and a big freshman class," CCHS head coach Colin Jones said. "It has been great for our freshman guys, because we got good leaders. We got two solid pitchers that just take over our team mentally and physically. The seniors have done great for us. It was a last gift for the seniors, and we are making some field updates. Hopefully, there is more to come."
During the series, the Lions stole home five different times, and junior pitcher Sam Schau pitched a two-hitter in the second game on the road.
"It has given us a major confidence boost, but we cannot focus too much on that," Francis said. "We got to focus on the task at hand and get one game at a time. We got to get a win and keep moving as far as we can."
Francis, Martin and Judkins were named to the All-District team, while Schau and Jakes were Honorable Mention.
CCHS finished up 2016 with a 6-8 record inside District 8AA, and it earned the No. 5 seed for the upcoming tournament. The Lions faced No. 4 seed Smith County on May 7 in the opening round of the double elimination playoffs. If the Lions won, they would play in the winners' bracket at 7 p.m. on May 9, while a loss puts them in the losers' bracket at 5 p.m. also on May 9.
The Lions will play all of their district postseason games at Upperman, while the other half of the district teams will play at Murfreesboro Central Magnet with the winner from each bracket advancing to the Region tournament. If the Lions make it to the finals, it will be on May 10 at 7 p.m. with an if necessary game on May 11 at 5 p.m.
"We got to get our bats rolling for sure, and play sound defense," Francis said. "We are going to get quality pitching, and I have full faith in our staff. We got to get down to the wire and get our bats going and our defense perfect."
CCHS Boys Soccer
The Lions finished up the season last week with two home matches, including a 5-0 loss to hated rival, DeKalb County on May 3, but the season ended on Senior Night two nights later against Community with a 4-2 win as junior Qwentin McMackins scored twice and fellow junior Jake Walkup also scored twice in the win.
"It is great for our seniors, and it is great for the guys," CCHS head coach Jeran Tenpenny said after the win. "We have been looking to put two great halves together all season, and we finally came out tonight and did exactly that."
The five seniors honored before the match, included Jeremy Litchford, Kyle and Kody Margarito, Reece Wisdom and Rafael Lopez.
"I have been with most of these guys since I was a child," Wisdom said. "The Margaritos are great players, and I have played with them all four years here in Cannon County. Litchford and Lopez first coming on the field this year have been really excellent. Being able to play with these guys all year has been a real honor."
CCHS heads into the district tournament with only two wins on the season, and it was winless in District 8A-AA this season. However, the Lions hope to turn their luck around against tough competition during the postseason part of the schedule. They opened up the playoffs on May 7 as the No. 5 seed on the road against the No. 4 seed Livingston in the play in game at 1 p.m. If the Lions win they will travel to No. 1 seed Murfreesboro Central Magnet on May 9 at 5 p.m. The title game will be on May 12 at 7 p.m. at Merrol Hyde.
"Our struggle all year has been being able to play a full game," Wisdom said. "I think that is what it is going to come down to is whether or not we can play our hearts out for an entire game and be able to compete with these guys,
but we need to have the heart out on the field to do it."