Spring seasons start Monday
by SARALYN NORKUS  Banner Sports Writer
Mar 09, 2014 | 974 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WALKER VALLEY softball coach Lauren Limburg talks with a group of her girls during their 50-inning Blue and Gold game at Larry Haney Field on Saturday. Banner photo, SARALYN NORKUS
WALKER VALLEY softball coach Lauren Limburg talks with a group of her girls during their 50-inning Blue and Gold game at Larry Haney Field on Saturday. Banner photo, SARALYN NORKUS
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The first official day of spring might still be a week and a half away on the calendar, but Monday marks the start of the area high schools’ spring sports.

The TSSAA spring sports season will get going with quite a bang, as there are well over 100 events scheduled for this week alone. Baseball, softball, boy’s soccer, tennis, plus track and field are all included in the lengthy list.

Mother Nature even seemingly got the spring weather memo, and according to the current 10-day forecast for Cleveland temperatures will mainly be in the 60’s with rain only being expected on Wednesday.

BASEBALL

America’s favorite pastime comes to life for Bradley and Polk counties Monday as Cleveland, Bradley Central, Walker Valley and Polk County get their seasons going.

The Wildcats host Tellico Plains in non-district action at 5 p.m., while the three Bradley County teams jump right into District 5-AAA play Monday evening.

Cleveland, who finished last season out with a 7-5 district record and was 17-19 overall, travels north to McMinn County for their 7 p.m. first pitch.

The Raiders got hot in the district tournament, knocking out both Walker Valley and Bradley Central before falling victim to Soddy-Daisy in the semifinals.

Cleveland has seven seniors on their roster, including three pitchers, but suffered a heavy blow in the loss of Jake Wyrick due to an off-season injury. The upperclassmen are rounded out by 10 juniors.

The Cherokees struggled last season, posting a 2-10 district record and 6-19 overall.

McMinn will travel to Cleveland Tuesday to finish out the home-and-home series at 7 p.m.

The Raiders close out their week at the Scenic City Classic, which runs from Thursday through Saturday.

Bradley Central hosts East Hamilton for the Hurricanes’ inaugural District 5-AAA baseball game Monday at 7 p.m.

Last season the Bears went 9-3 in the district and 18-10 overall before their postseason was ended by the Raiders.

Bradley faced East Hamilton twice last year and split the games.

The Hurricanes were 12-2 in District 6-AA play and 26-13 overall. East Hamilton was the District 6-AA champions and finished out their tournament run one-win shy of the state tournament field with a sectional loss to Upperman.

On Tuesday the Bears will travel to Chattanooga State at 6 p.m. to face the Hurricanes’ on their “home” field.

Bradley is in the McMinn Central Classic from Thursday through Saturday.

The Bears will play face Stone Memorial at 2:30 p.m. at McMinn County High School on Thursday and CAK at 5 p.m. Friday, also in Athens.

Bradley finishes off the event on Saturday, hosting Alcoa at 4:30 p.m. and Meigs County at 7 p.m.

Polk County is also participating in the McMinn Central Classic, playing in Englewood for the entire tournament.

The Wildcats face Alcoa at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Cumberland County on Friday at 7 p.m. and play in a doubleheader on Saturday against Heritage at 11:30 a.m. and Rhea County at 2 p.m.

Walker Valley opened district play by hosting Soddy-Daisy at 7 p.m. Monday night.

Last season the Mustangs were 9-3 in the district and 17-12 overall. This year’s Walker Valley team is a younger one, with only four seniors on their roster.

The Trojans were 2-10 in the district last year and finished out with an overall record of 6-19.

Soddy-Daisy’s overall record was deceiving though, as the team made a run in the postseason tournament that ended with a loss to Cookeville in the Region 3-AAA tournament.

The Mustangs turn around and gallop off to Soddy-Daisy on Tuesday for a 7 p.m. game.

Walker Valley is once again hosting during the Playing for a Cure Tournament Friday and Saturday.

On Friday the Mustangs take on Rhea County at 2 p.m. and on Saturday they play in a double header against CAK at 2 p.m. and Harlan County (Ky.) at 7 p.m.

SOFTBALL

Cleveland and Polk County both get their seasons underway on Monday, with the Lady Raiders traveling to Red Bank for a 5 p.m. game and the Lady Wildcats hosting Hixson at 5:30 p.m..

Bradley Central and Walker Valley begin their seasons on Tuesday.

The Lady Mustangs will host Rhea County at 5 p.m., while the Bearettes will entertain Cleveland in District 5-AAA action at 5 p.m. as well.

Also on Tuesday evening, Polk County will travel to Red Bank for a 5:30 p.m. game.

The Lady Wildcats were 6-2 in District 5-AA play and 20-16 overall, ending their season in region play against East Hamilton.

On Wednesday, Walker Valley goes head-to-head with district newcomer East Hamilton at 5 p.m.

The Lady Hurricanes were quite a force to be reckoned with last year, as they were state ranked and made it all the way to the Class AA State tournament, ultimately losing to Chester County and Lexington.

The Lady Mustangs were undefeated in District 5-AAA regular season play and finished out their season 26-7 after losing to Coffee County in the Region 3-AAA semifinal game.

On Thursday Bradley Central will host Walker Valley at 5 p.m., while Cleveland travels to Ooltewah at the same time.

Polk will host East Ridge at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday as well.

Friday and Saturday brings about tournament play for Walker Valley, Bradley and Polk County.

The Lady Mustangs will be in Hendersonville for the Commando Classic, while both Bradley and Polk compete in the Meigs County Tournament, which is being played in Dayton.

SOCCER

Tuesday marks the start of the boys’ soccer season as well.

Last season Cleveland went 3-3 in District 5-AAA play, but rallied to win the district championship after defeating Soddy-Daisy. The Raiders lost to Coffee County in the Region 3-AAA tournament.

Walker Valley had a district record of 1-5 and was 3-9-1 overall, while Bradley Central went winless in the district and finished 5-10 overall.

Walker Valley hosts Grace Baptist at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, while Bradley travels to McMinn Central and Cleveland hosts Boyd-Buchanan at 7 p.m. at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.

On Thursday, Bradley will host Sequoyah at 5:30.

The district champion Blue Raiders host their sixth annual Cleveland Classic Thursday through Saturday, which will include a record 18 teams.

On Thursday the Raiders will face Siegel at 7:30 p.m. at the Greater Cleveland Soccer Complex.

The Classic continues on Friday with Cleveland taking on Coffee County at 4:30 p.m. and Walker Valley facing Sullivan South at 8:30 p.m. at the soccer complex.

The Bears travel to Grace Baptist on Friday as well.

Saturday marks the final day of the Cleveland Classic with the Mustangs hosting Coffee County at 11 a.m. and taking on Blackman at 7:30 p.m. at Cleveland Middle School, while the Raiders play Dobyns-Bennett at 6:30 p.m. at the soccer complex.

TENNIS

Walker Valley begins their tennis season at 3:30 p.m. Monday at McMinn County, while Cleveland gets things started by hosting East Hamilton at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

On Thursday Cleveland hosts Ooltewah, Walker Valley travels to Soddy-Daisy and Tennessee Christian Preparatory School hosts Grace at 4:15 on the Cleveland Country Club courts.

TRACK AND FIELD

Track and field will kick into high gear in a week, but Walker Valley is getting their season started this week.

Walker Valley travels to Ooltewah Tuesday for a meet beginning at 4 p.m.

On Thursday the north county school goes across the river to Rhea County for a half meet that beings at 4 p.m.

Cleveland begins their season on March 18 when they host a half meet.

According to head coach Casey Price, the idea of having half meets was something that the coaches talked about last season.

“Meets were starting at 4 p.m. and some weren’t finishing until 9 or 10 p.m. We want the meets to finish quicker, but still have quality competition. It’s kind of a trial run this year, but I think it will be a big advantage for the kids,” Price explained.

Last year Cleveland qualified for 15 different track and field events in the TSSAA state meet. This year Coach Price expects another excellent year for his team.

“We lost Atarah (Abdullah-Muhammad) on the girls side, but on the guys side we pretty much have everyone back this year,” Price said. “All of our returnees looked amazing at the preseason jamboree at Walker Valley this past Friday. We will be very well balanced, but I do think we’ll struggle a little in the long distance events.”