Championships were the talk of all the Warren County Middle School sports teams when the spring season started. Now it’s time to see if titles will be won.
The Pioneer soccer and baseball teams will each be looking to defend their Central Tennessee Conference tournament titles in the next week, while the Lady Pioneer softball team is in search of its third championship in the last five years.
New soccer coach Ario Zadeh knew before he ever took the reins of the program how much pressure there would be to win. The Pioneers have won five CTC titles in a row, putting a target on their back every outing.
The WCMS soccer team starts its title defense Wednesday at home against White County and Zadeh believes his group is ready to roll.
“I’m very confident in our chances. We have grown a lot as a team and have to trust one another,” said Zadeh. “These boys are hungry to bring back the title again. They are an elite group and know what it takes to win at this level.”
The opening round matchup with White County is set to start at 5 p.m. at Warren County High School. The Pioneers won the regular season matchup 8-1. With a win, Warren County would advance into the final four and play its semifinal game Saturday in Tullahoma. The championship game is also slated for Saturday in Tullahoma.
Coach Chad Young led the Pioneer baseball team to a perfect record last year en route to a title, but many of those players are now making contributions at WCHS. Warren County will enter this year as an underdog, starting Thursday with a game at White County at 6 p.m., but coach Young believes the tools are there to win again.
“I refuse to make excuses about how we've been playing. We have to flip a switch and come out swinging,” said Young. “We will not go down without a fight. Our boys are fired up and ready to play.”
The Lady Pioneers don’t have to deal with the weight of defending a title, but it doesn’t make new coach Joe Damon’s job any easier. Warren County dominated throughout the season, winning 11 games in a row at one point to finish 13-2.
The Lady Pioneers lost a chance at the top seed in the CTC tournament last week in an extra-inning, heartbreaking 4-3 loss at Franklin North. The Lady Gators and Lady Pioneers enter as the clear-cut favorites to meet in the finals, but Damon isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“There are several teams with a chance to win. North, Coffee County and White County all have dominant pitchers who keep scoring low,” said Damon. “Our focus is being confident at the plate and being committed to putting the ball in play.
“These girls are ready. We have a roster that’s hit the ball well from top to bottom in our order. If we execute offensively, there’s no doubt we have the defense to keep us in the game.”
The Lady Pioneers will get a tune up Wednesday on the road against Prescott South at 5 p.m. Warren County will start tournament play Thursday at Coffee County. The first pitch is set for 7:30 p.m.