Two survive long journey to state

Wednesday, May 20, 2015
Cornersville's Hunter Talley rounds third base and heads for home plate with the tying run in the Bulldogs 2-1 Sectional win over Forrest. The victory catapulted Cornersville into the TSSAA Spring Fling Class A State Baseball Tournament in Murfreesboro this week. This is the second time in school history the Bulldogs have qualified for the state tournament. Tribune photos by Anthony S. Puca

February 9, the first day of spring sports practice seems like a thousand years ago when it was all fresh, not knowing what was ahead.

One month later, the season officially began and so did the crazy weather that pushed teams' progression back and made scheduling difficult because of all the rain that hit the mid-state.

The rain finally cleared and so did the path to the post-season as teams fulfilled the district portions of its schedules by playing on off days and scheduling double-headers.

The Cornersville Bulldogs struggled a bit midway through the season before catching fire at the perfect time, sweeping through the District 11-A Tournament to earn the crown with a 5-3 win over Richland on May 6.

Cornersville went on to win the Region 6-A opener 5-0, but suffered a 10-0 setback at the hands of District 12-A champions Summertown.

Undeterred, the Bulldogs travelled to Forrest for the Sectional round and for the second time in three years, staff ace David Looney shut down the Rockets in Chapel Hill.

The dramatic late-inning win over the Rockets sent Cornersville to the state tournament for the second time in school history, the first coming in 2013.

Action begins

Looney is undefeated on the mound this season and the Columbia State Community College signee will take the hill in the Spring Fling opener on Tuesday versus District 13-A and Region 7-A champion Huntingdon (21-15).

The Spring Fling is a double-elimination tournament and it imperative to get off to a good start and win in the first round or an early Wednesday morning elimination game awaits.

Coming out of the loser's bracket is tough, but not impossible, just look back to 2008 when the Forrest Lady Rockets accomplished the feat to capture their first state title after a pair of runner-up finishes in 2002 and 2007.


Forrest also finished second in 2009 and the Lady Rockets are a fixture at the Spring Fling, making the trip 11 out of the last 14 years.

The Lady Rockets have played spectacular softball this season, going undefeated at home, while posting a 31-5 record with 14 wins in a row to end the season that produced District 9-A and Region 5-A championships.

Forrest easily toppled Summertown 12-1 in the sectional round as the Lady Rockets have not lost to a Class A team this season.

The Lady Rockets have returned to the formula that brought much success over the years with a lethal small attack at the top of the lineup in seniors Briar Mays and Kiyoko Puca that sets the table for the power hitters in Katie Warrick, Samantha King and Savannah Brothers.

Katie Warrick of Forrest has posted another huge season for the Lady Rockets, who owned a 14-game winning streak going into their Class A State Softball Tournament opener Tuesday in the TSSAA Spring Fling in Murfreesboro.

Warrick has bashed 50 home runs for her career and has taken over the pitching duties this year, becoming just as dominant in the circle.

State play

Forrest opened up Spring Fling play versus the Meigs County Lady Tigers (28-6), who finished second in the District 3-A Tournament, losing to the Grace Christian School Lady Rams from Knoxville.

The Lady Rams lost 3-0 to Gordonsville in last year's state tournament final.

The Lady Tigers came back to beat Grace Christian in the Region 2-A title game, but both teams ended up in Murfreesboro as the Lady Rams toppled North Greene 3-2 on the road in the Sectional round.

The Spring Fling opened on Monday and continues through Friday with the softball championship game scheduled for 2 p.m. at Starplex Field No. 4, while the baseball title game is to be played at Middle Tennessee State University at 11 a.m. on Friday.