Titles Hopes Fade at State
What a year it has been for high school sports in Marshall County!
First, the Class A State Champion Lady Rockets Basketball team recently received their rings after raising the first ever State Championship Trophy over Forrest School in Chapel Hill. The Lady Rockets of softball have been ever so close to accomplishing that feat in the past and earned another trip to the State Tournament to take another swing. The baseball Rockets had been held from State Tournament glory in the past as well but they hurdled the Sectional wall this time to advance all the way to the Class A State Championship game. The Tigerettes, defending Class AA State Champs, made their fourth straight trip to the show but had to settle for third. The Tigerettes' seven seniors can claim a State Championship, a Runner-up and now a Third place finish in State Tournament play. And MCHS Tennis Doubles girls Lyssa Wiles and Tori Richardson teamed up for the first time on the State Tournament courts. For Richardson, it was her third trip to the State with another year to make it a four-peat.
This season of sports leaves no doubt that Marshall County plays ball.
This year, the Spring Fling State Tournament gala was held in Murfreesboro after switching from Chattanooga to Memphis the past couple of seasons. The short drive to the 'Boro allowed many Marshall County fans to run around chasing games from the softball fields at Sportscom to the baseball field at Riverdale High School and finally at the Blue Raider field at MTSU. Supporters from Cornersville, Chapel Hill and Lewisburg made the trip to yell and scream for the home teams but there will be no championship trophy coming home to Marshall County this year.
The Rockets had their shot in their first ever State Tournament appearance advancing all the way to the Championship final to face McKenzie of West Tennessee. The final game featured a true pitcher's duel between Vanderbilt signee Mikie Minor of Forrest and Drew Hayes of McKenzie. Both pitched in the 90s, both lead their teams in homeruns this season and both could end up in Commodore gold next season. But the Rockets, who had advanced easily to the championship with big wins over Lookout Valley and Huntingdon, were upended in their title hopes by a small margin of error.
"I guess we were just second today," said Coach Babe Hardison, coaching his first state tournament run in 20 years with the Rockets. "You can't win it without getting a little luck."
Despite his disappointment, Coach Hardison was proud of this Rocket team and knows they created the most buzz in the 'Boro last week.
"We were able to make a little noise here," Hardison said. "People knew that we were here. We even left a few marks here for people to remember us."
Those marks included three State Tournament records that the Rockets either tied or surpassed during their run toward the championship. The Rockets as a team now have the State Tournament record for most homeruns with 9, eclipsing the old mark of 5 by DCA in 1990. Jeremy Lamb and Mikie Minor now share the State record for Most Homeruns in the tournament with 3 each. Minor also joins Peyton Pratt in tying the State record for Most Homeruns in a single game with 2.
The Tigerettes found themselves in what would be the best game of the State Tournament, and what many believed was the true State Championship matchup, when they faced Goodpasture in the semifinals. Leading 1-0 in the sixth, the Lady Cougars of Goodpasture advanced with a two-run rally to heading into the Championship game 2-1. The Lady Cougars would take the title beating Covington 6-1 for back-to-back State Championships, one in Class A and now one in Class AA.
The Tigerettes had a hard time recovering from the Goodpasture loss and fell one game short of a rematch with the Lady Cougars by falling to Covington 7-2.
The Lady Rockets got a big win over highly-touted Friendship Christian to start their State Tournament run but they ran into the eventual State Champions of Trinity Christian Academy in the second round. They followed the loss with a pounding of Huntingdon, just as their Rocket counterparts; but the win set them up with a disappointing rematch with Friendship Christian to end their championship hopes.
Even though no team could bring home the crown, it was certainly quite a run in Murfreesboro last week for Marshall County high school sports.