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It's time to play ball
Junior Easton Denning is hoping to build off an all-district season in 2022 as he serves as a power bat in the middle of the Pioneer order this spring.

Warren County High School spring athletes are hoping to hear their two favorite words Monday night. As long as weather cooperates, umpires and referees will be screaming “play ball,” as baseball, softball and soccer seasons kick off for WCHS.

The Pioneer baseball team and Lady Pioneer softball team are both scheduled to start the season on the road Monday, playing Moore County and White County, respectively. The Pioneer soccer team will be at home hoping to jumpstart a big year against Tullahoma. 

Phillip King, Gooby Martin and August Palombo have all been working their teams extra the last few weeks in hopes of being ready for the spring. Hundreds of hours conditioning, practicing and learning the tiny details will be put to the test Monday, but none of the coaches figure they’ll have the answers after one game.

They may not even know the question marks on their team until the ball is live either. And for King and Martin, two veterans with hundreds of wins under their belt, that’s perfectly fine.

“The message right now is to go out and have some fun playing a kid’s sport,” said King about his pep talk before opening day. “Sometimes you get so wrapped up in everything and what you don’t want is them to put pressure on themselves – just go out and play loose.

“All the hard work is behind us. Those fall workouts, lifting, running, doing arm care, being stuck inside during the winter in the cages – this first day is when you get to strap it up and see what all the work has been for. I’m very excited to see what this group can do and what their legacy will be in Pioneer history.”

Martin, who has guided his Lady Pioneers to championships in each of the last five seasons they have taken the field (excluding 2020 when COVID cancelled the season, isn’t pushing any expectations early either. 

He’s just enjoying a new group of players working to find their groove.

“We will have to play hard, play together and make routine plays. Our pitchers have to throw strikes. I’m looking forward to the challenge,” said Martin, who will have to replace four all-district players from last year’s 6-4A tournament championship squad. “I’m ready to see this young team compete and get better and more confident each game.”

Palombo got to take his team through a dress rehearsal Thursday, but the Pioneers may be regretting the trip to Crossville after the outing. Warren County lost the scrimmage 4-1, but the real damage came early when Jonas Bailey – the team’s keeper – got injured and had to leave the game. It was a tough pill to swallow for the Pioneers in the scrimmage, especially when the group was already shorthanded with several members of the team on a choir trip. 

The Pioneer did get to test their depth and resolve though. Gabe Morin and Brodie Cowans got looks in the net and Parker Smith made sure Warren County didn’t come home with a goose egg as he scored off a corner kick. 

“We saw the boys exhibit the foundations of team play that we were looking for. We also got to see some new people step up and be leaders in the absence of others. We’re glad to have knocked some of the offseason rust off,” said Palombo, who is entering his second season at the helm of the Pioneer soccer program.

The Warren County tennis and track teams will have to wait until Tuesday, March 21 to make their debuts in 2023. Make sure to continue reading the Standard for all the latest sports updates.