To ‘Murf,’ barely

Mascia, Pence, Raby lead Ads’ rally to state

John Painter, Farragut batter, pulls back a bunt attempt on a pitch from Johnson City Science Hill pitcher Grant Rabbits to Hilltoppers catcher Ben Mottern. The Admirals rallied for a 3-2 eight-inning win during this sectional showdown at FHS’s John Heatherly Field Wednesday, May 13. Nico Mascia’s recently discovered power from the left side, reverting back to switch hitting in April, provided three of Farragut’s biggest post season hits — all home runs — leading to Murfreesboro.

Tyler Lugo, senior designated hitter/first baseman in his first year as a starter, will have a prized moment to tell his grandchildren.

These two Admirals joined Duncan Pence, junior shortstop with three hits and the walk-off winning run, and staff pitching ace Patrick Raby (148 pitches allowing just two hits with 12 strikeouts), to help Farragut rally past Johnson City Science Hill in a sectional thriller.

With the Admirals six outs from losing down 2-0, it ended 3-2 in eight innings Friday, May 15, at FHS’s John Heatherly Field.

“To our credit we just never give in,” FHS head coach Matt Buckner said about his Admirals, who improved to 37-6. “We’ve found a way a lot. … Our guys battle.
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McLean leaving HVA, seeks 2nd state title

With their final game ever at HVA flashing a final score in back, Mike McLean, HVA boys soccer head coach, poses with senior captains, from left, Cameron Schneider, Logan Kington and Sean Ryan along with Shawn Foster, senior midfielder. Hardin Valley Academy boys soccer team will try to send off its highly regarded senior class, and the only head coach this seven-year-old program has ever had, with a state championship and undefeated season.

Mike McLean made his resignation official Saturday afternoon, May 16, following an easy 4-1 Hawks sectional home victory against Morristown West.

Although he’s moving to Atlanta without disclosing much more information, McLean is looking for his second boys state championship (2011) and first undefeated season (18-0-2) in Mufreesboro this week. He sports an overall 81-29-17 record with several district and region championships in seven seasons leading the HVA boys program.
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First state tourney trip for Hawks baseball

Despite last year’s regular season success for Hardin Valley Academy baseball, which included a District 4-AAA league championship, “I don’t think it prepared us well for the post-season,” HVA head coach Joe Michalski said.

Whereas last season ended in disappointment during district tournament play, the lessons learned from the Hawks’ 2015 mid-season “rough patch” proved valuable.

The end result is the program’s first-ever trip to the Class AAA State Tournament in Murfreesboro (26-15).

“The fact that we had to fight through a lot of different things, and tough losses — and we got beat up a couple of times — I think having to deal with that made us tougher and made us more prepared for the post season,” Michalski said after a 7-2 sectional victory at Kingsport Dobyns-Bennett Friday, May 15.
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Lady Hawks stay red hot, earn program’s first trip to state

With one state championship under her belt in Arkansas, Hawks junior pitcher Kaleigh Wynne is looking for a Tennessee championship to add to her résumé as she shuts the door on Seymour Friday, May 15, at HVA As a senior at Central High School, Whitney Hickam-Cruze played in the Class AAA State Softball Tournament and now she’ll return to the grand stage as Hardin Valley Academy’s head coach.

“I played in the state tournament as a senior and I really wanted to see these kids get to experience that, and now we’re going to have fun this week,” Hickam-Cruze said after her Lady Hawks downed Seymour 8-3 in a Section 1-AAA game at HVA Friday night, May 15. “These upper classmen have worked really hard and I have freshmen stepping up and making plays all over the place.

“These are memories that these girls will always remember.”

Hardin Valley’s postseason run has been dramatic in 2015 as the Lady Hawks prevailed in a couple of Region 2-AAA Tournament nailbiters.

Those thrilling walk-off victories came on the heels of HVA advancing through the loser’s bracket to win the District 4-AAA Tournament as the fifth seed.
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Lady Dawgs rally for first state softball berth

Trailing 2-0 with only six outs remaining in its season if the bats remained silent, Bearden softball responded.

The Lady Bulldogs (28-11-1) earned a Class AAA state tourney berth, apparently the program’s first ever, after rallying with two runs in the sixth and seventh innings for a 4-2 sectional win at Jefferson County Friday afternoon, May 15.

“I looked back through all the records, and I think this is the first time ever for Bearden to go to state,” BHS head coach Leonard Sams said.

“I think nerves got the best of us early in that game, we were really tight and nervous and trying to do too much,” Sams added. “And their pitcher was doing a great job shutting us down.

“Going into the fifth inning I said, ‘Ladies we’ve got to try to quit killing the ball. Let’s work on base hits. … I do not want to see the ball hit up in the air, let’s hit it through the infield.’ They took their hands a little higher ... and all of a sudden they started hitting hard balls.”
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Region title all HVA, 1-0

Charlie Sissom, HVA senior defender, 12, is sandwiched between two Morristown West players fighting for the ball. OAK RIDGE — Hardin Valley Academy brought home a Region 2-AAA soccer championship Thursday, May 15. Defense and stellar goalkeeping helped the Hawks nab its second regional title in school history.

Hardin Valley’s Evan Zelem scored the lone goal of a tight match early in the second half as he took a cross from Cameron Schneider and put it past Oak Ridge netminder Jake Liven-good in the 42nd minute. It lifted the Hawks past the host Wildcats 1-0 at Oak Ridge Soccer Complex.

“It was a great pass and it went right to my foot and I knew I had to put it past their keeper,” Zelem said.

Hardin Valley, which improved to 17-0-2 with the win, went on to defeat Morristown West in the sectional and punch its ticket to this week’s Class AAA State Tournament in Murfreesboro. But HVA had to withstand some early pressure from the Wildcats, who played the Hawks to a draw in a regular-season meeting.
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HVA softball walks off with region title

Hawks second baseman Hayley Cloud, 9, just misses the tag on Bearden runner Paige Calloway during Region 2-AAA championship game play Wednesday, May 13, at HVA. Throughout the 2015 postseason Hardin Valley Academy’s softball team has had a flare for the dramatic. This was again the case Wednesday, May 13.

It was then that the Lady Hawks notched a 4-3 comeback win over rival Bearden to capture the Region 2-AAA championship before a boisterous crowd at HVA.

It was the first-ever region title for Hardin Valley, which culminated its comeback when freshman right fielder Mikaela Chavis singled in Kaleigh Wynne with the winning run.

For Chavis, it was a case of sweet redemption. She misplayed a fly ball in the top of the seventh that allowed Bearden designated player Kierra Smith to reach third base to open the frame. Smith would later score the tying run when Elena Schusterick grounded out to knot the contest 3-3.

In its last at-bat, Hardin Valley (28-12) was able to win the game with heroics from the freshman right fielder. Wynne was intentionally walked to open the bottom of the inning.
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Culbreth era: 14 seasons of winners

Wallie Culbreth has used his special motivation skills and knowledge of soccer to win many a big game — namely four Class AAA state ti-tles , one na-tional title and top Amer-ican coach honors as Farragut Admirals skipper the past 14 seasons.

However, “Some games you get a little unlucky, and we made a few mistakes and they won fair and square,” Ethan Snow, FHS senior star midfielder, said about a 2-1 overtime loss at Oak Ridge in Region 2-AAA semis May 12. It not only ended the high school careers of Snow and his Class of 2015 teammates, but Culbreth’s Ad-mirals coaching era.

Saying his 2015 team was especially close, Snow added about Culbreth, “He definitely cares about the program more than anyone else. It was nice to have somebody that cared so much. I think that’s an important thing to have in a coach.”
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Pacifico, FHS make it 4 of 6 versus Hawks to win region

Landen Beyer, Hardin Valley Academy catcher, tags out Farragut courtesy runner Danny Abel at the plate in the second inning of this Region 2-AAA championship game at FHS’s John Heatherly Field Wednesday evening, May 13. The Admirals won 4-2. While Farragut pitcher Dylan Pacifico improved to a perfect 7-0 this season, the junior helped lead his Admirals to yet another Region 2-AAA Tournament title.

Pacifico went the distance, allowing two earned runs and just three hits with two walks, two hit batters and eight strikeouts, as FHS beat Hardin Valley Academy for the fourth time in six tries this season. The Ads’ 4-2 win came Wednesday, May 13, at FHS’s John Heatherly Field.

“I just felt good today,” Pacifico said. “My slider, I was hitting my spots and they were swinging at my good pitches. They were attacking and I was attacking too.”

Matt Buckner, FHS head coach, said Pacifico had “a huge performance, I’m really proud of him. … He’s a big-time pitcher, got great stuff. He’s going to be a Division I pitcher.”
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