After seven weeks of preparation, Northeast Tennessee teams set their sights on postseason play as district tournaments begin in baseball, softball, soccer and tennis. For track and field, the sectional meet is in focus.
Here’s a look at sites and some expectations for the baseball, softball and soccer tournaments:
1-AAA at J. Fred Johnson Stadium
It starts with as strong of a favorite as this league has seen in quite some time. Science Hill ruled the regular season, running through all opponents for a perfect 12-0 mark.
Outside the conference, it has been tough for the opposition as well. Science Hill’s record is 27-6 overall, and the combined record of the teams that have beaten the Hilltoppers is 105-36.
That’s not to say the Hilltoppers should just mow through the district. There are three teams that look capable of a serious push for a region berth: Tennessee High, Dobyns-Bennett and Daniel Boone.
Predicted winner: Science Hill
Region berth: Dobyns-Bennett
1-AA at TVA Credit Union Ballpark
This event has three very solid teams with Unicoi County a half-step ahead of the pack.
The Blue Devils won the regular-season title and have two aces in Clay Simpson and Caleb Wilson. Strong lineups for Sullivan East and Elizabethton make them threats, while Sullivan South has enough tradition to still be in the mix for a region berth.
Predicted winner: Unicoi County
Region berth: Elizabethton
1-A at David Crockett
University High proved it belonged at the head of the class, and the Junior Bucs will carry the favorite role into the district.
While Unaka is the Bucs’ biggest challenge, North Greene can’t be counted out because of the Huskies’ recent run of postseason success. Hampton and Sullivan North are capable of creating a threat as well.
Predicted winner: University High
Region berth: Unaka
1-AAA at Metro-Kiwanis Park
There’s not a clearcut favorite between Daniel Boone and David Crockett, although these teams will get a chance to change that Wednesday when they meet for the Big 7 Conference title on the Lady Trailblazers’ field.
Any one of three teams could win without a surprise with Science Hill in the mix with Boone and Crockett.
Predicted winner: Daniel Boone
Region berth: David Crockett
1-AA at Elizabethton
Elizabethton has brought its A game to the park when league contests have been on the schedule, so the Lady Cyclones are the team to beat.
Unicoi County is certainly good enough to give Elizabethton a battle, and Sullivan East poses another threat.
Predicted winner: Elizabethton
Region berth: Unicoi County
1-A at Unaka
It’s going to be an interesting scramble for the second region berth because every team will likely take a back seat to expected champion Unaka.
And there doesn’t seem to be a clearcut No. 2. University High and North Greene have the best traditions among the Unaka chasers. Sullivan North is in the mix, too.
Predicted winner: Unaka
Region berth: University High
1-AAA at the Stone Castle
Dobyns-Bennett has been head and shoulders above the crowd, and the state’s No. 2-ranked team figures to be tough to handle in the postseason.
It’s a tossup between Science Hill and Tennessee High for the No. 2 spot.
Predicted winner: Dobyns-Bennett
Region berth: Science Hill
1-AA at home field of higher seeds
No. 1-ranked and defending state champion Greeneville should be able to navigate the district trail with ease. The bigger question is which team — Sullivan South, Unicoi County or Elizabethton — will be moving forward with the Greene Devils.
Predicted winner: Greeneville
Region berth: Sullivan South
1-A at home field of higher seeds
Chuckey-Doak, ranked No 4 in the state, is the favorite by leaps and bounds. University High and West Greene will have to battle to join Doak in the region.
Predicted winner: Chuckey-Doak
Region berth: University High