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Making history
Lady Pioneers win their first region title, advance to sectional showdown
Seniors Maddie Cantrell, left, and Ashton Whiles were all smiles after winning the region championship Wednesday. The Lady Pioneers beat Ooltewah 3-0, earning the program's first bid into the substate Friday.

Gooby Martin may need to start charging big bucks for his ability to tell the future.

The leader of the Lady Pioneers believed his squad was destined to accomplish big things before the season began. His prediction came true Wednesday when Warren County won the the program's first-ever Region 3AAA championship, beating Ooltewah 3-0 on its home field.

"I give them expectations every year and I want them to meet them," said Martin, who has guided the Lady Pioneers to two district championships and a region crown in the last three seasons. "It starts with talent. We have really good players who are coachable. Sometimes I give them tough love, but they respond well. I can't say enough about how these girls compete."

An overflowing crowd was treated to a tremendous game, one where Warren County was able to shut down another top-flight team.

Ooltewah finished third in the state last year, while Walker Valley - the team the Lady Pioneers beat Monday - was last year's state runner-up.

The victory vaults Warren County into the sectionals for the first time in program history. The Lady Pioneers are one of 16 teams left playing in AAA. Only eight teams will advance to next week's state tournament.

As Warren County advances further than ever before, the competition has grown stiffer. Its next opponent may be the most challenging to date.

The Lady Pioneers will be fighting for a bid to the state tournament when they take on the Siegel Lady Stars at home Friday at 6 p.m.

Siegel (38-9) relies heavily on the splendid pitching of junior Sophie Golliver. The talented righty, who has already committed to the University of Alabama Birmingham, is approaching 200 strikeouts this season. 

Offensively, 3B Caitlyn McCrary is as good as it gets in the state. McCrary, who committed to the University of Tennessee in eighth grade and will join the Lady Vols in the fall, is a two-time all-state performer. She’s hitting .527 this season with 51 RBIs.

Warren County (20-10-1) knows exactly how talented Siegel is, having lost to the Lady Stars 2-0 earlier this season. Coach Gooby Martin knows his team won’t back down from the challenge though.

“They’re very talented. They probably have the best pitcher in the state and their third baseman (McCrary) is the real deal,” said Martin. “They have a little bit of everything - speed, power and defense.

“We’re going to play our game. We always play the same – whether we are favored or are the underdogs. We’re going to play hard, play smart and always compete.”

Playing Siegel early, along with facing three state qualifiers from last season and two region winners, was designed for this moment.

“This is why our schedule is so tough. We wanted to prepare for this kind of game. We’re ready,” said Martin.

Per TSSAA rules, the entry fee for Friday’s game will be $7.