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Springing into action

Punxsutawney Phil may not have seen his shadow on Groundhog Day, but try telling the Warren County High School spring sport coaches that winter weather is on its way out.
Monday was the first day spring sports teams at WCHS could hit the field, or courts in the case of the tennis team, but most have had to retreat inside as cold and wet weather has hit Middle Tennessee.
The baseball, softball, boys soccer, track and tennis teams got started with practice Monday as all begin their quest for a District 6-AAA title.
Bad weather derailing outside work has been a common theme among the teams, as has the search for fresh faces as all the programs lost a number of starters from 2012.
Coach Adam Childs begins his second year with the Pioneer baseball team after making a great debut last season. In his first year, coach Childs led the Pioneers to 21 wins and missed making the first trip to the state tournament in 20 years by one game.
Warren County lost 10 seniors from last year’s team, including three pitcher who combined to make every postseason start last year. Pitchers and catchers have been doing offseason work since January, but now that the team is all there coach Childs can start his search for starters.
While the weather made things tough, the second-year head man thought his team made the most of its rare opportunities to get outside.
“Tuesday was nice because we got to do some things on the field,” said Childs. “We’re fortunate to have an indoor facility, but obviously we can’t simulate everything inside.
“We have had a good week. With four weeks before the start of the season, we have some flexibility on how we prepare. Hopefully we can be back outside soon.”
Coach David Upton has faced similar problems with the softball team, both with weather keeping the Lady Pioneers off the field and having to replace a productive senior class.
Warren County’s softball team graduated seven starters, four of which are now on college rosters. With a young group of girls, coach Upton is hoping good chemistry and a quick learning curve can make a big difference.
“So far it has been as expected with a lot of young kids trying to get their feet on the ground,” said Upton. “We have great chemistry. I couldn’t ask for more out of them in that area.”
The group that braved the weather every day this week has been coach Todd Willmore’s boys soccer team. Soggy conditions couldn’t keep the Pioneers off the field Monday or Tuesday and fighting the cold was something the team endured Wednesday.
For a team looking to replace its top scorer from a season ago while also improving on a five-win season, coach Willmore is happy with what he has seen so far.
“We’re getting good effort from the guys,” said Willmore. “The weather hasn’t helped things and Wednesday was definitely the worst in terms of low temperatures and field conditions, but we’ve had a good week.”
The WCHS track teams have had a strong turnout in the first week of practice, something coach Jim Duvall hopes will give the Pioneers and Lady Pioneers versatility this season.
Staying inside has kept the field competitors from getting much work, but coach Duvall has been able to accomplish his goal with the runners.
“We have to get them running, start getting that soreness out of the way in the first week,” said Duvall. “We’re looking at having close to 50 people come out this season, which is a good number for us.”
The biggest surprise for the tennis team this week was the return of a familiar face at head coach. Coach David Dunlap’s retirement, which was announced after last season, didn’t last long as he returns to the helm of the Pioneers and Lady Pioneers.
Using the indoor tennis courts at McMinnville Civic Center has given the teams a chance to practice as the boys hope to win the District 6-AAA title for the fourth straight year. The Lady Pioneers want to improve on a third-place finish from a year ago.
The spring season will start March 7 when the boys soccer team plays a home match against Stone Memorial. The baseball, softball and tennis teams will start their seasons Monday, March 11.

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