The Black Diamond District baseball and softball tournaments began this past week. The Honaker High School baseball team, under coach Chris Anderson, won the BDD regular-season title after going 6-0 in district play.
The Tigers are led by two dynamic freshmen in Connor Musick and Jake Hilton. Honaker catcher Jax Horn provides the young Tigers with much-needed senior leadership.
Honaker may be the BDD’s best hope in capturing a Region 1D title after the Tigers already beat Cumberland District champs Eastside. The Hogoheegee has several teams with potential of reaching the Region 1D title game.
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Lebanon in its final season in Class 1 won the regular season Hogoheegee District title and will host the BDD No. 2 seed in the upcoming Region 1D Tournament. Chilhowie and Rural Retreat are also two teams that, if they could catch a break or two, might win it all.
- How about the Grundy Lady Wave softball team taking down BDD power Honaker on the road to claim a share of the BDD regular season softball title?
The Lady Wave has improved as the season has progressed and could be a dark horse in this week’s Region 1D Tournament. Grundy has one of the top pitchers in Region 1D in senior Savannah Clevinger, to go along with catcher Tiffany Deel, who went 5 for 6 with an impressive eight RBIs in the Lady Wave’s 15-12 win over Honaker last Monday.
Clevinger has plenty of help behind her in senior shortstop Madie Owens and senior second baseman Kaylee Compton up the middle. Third baseman Taylor Bostic and Madeline Deel cover the corners of the infield. The Lady Wave outfield includes talented center fielder Emily O’Quinn and left fielder Ally Blankenship, who have been staples for coach Bryan Looney all season.
Sophia Belcher and Ryleigh Church have been sparkplugs for Grundy after moving up from the junior varsity team and will be key contributors during the playoffs.
- Honaker can’t be counted out, although many expected them to run away with the BDD regular season. But a share of the title is better than nothing.
The Lady Tigers are led by two outstanding freshmen. One is ace Gracie Shelton, the sister of Grundy wrestling and football standout Luke “Quake” Shelton. The young pitcher may have earned her a nickname of her own — “Thunder,” as it is the sound of her lightning fastball striking the mitt of catcher Anna Dye.
Slugger Madalyn Dye led the BDD in home runs in her first varsity season. She may be one of the best power hitters in all of Southwest Virginia, and when runners are on base, coach Donavon Helton would not want anyone else at the plate.
Riley Hart, Josie McGlothlin, Jade McGlothlin, Emma Ray and Cynthia Jaurez provide much-needed senior leadership for Honaker, which will be important as the postseason progresses. Freshmen Lincoln Bush and Jaiden Thompson and sophomores Kiley Ray and Rylee Rasnake are also key members of this year’s team.
- The Twin Valley Panthers look to have an edge over Hurley, as the Lady Panthers won their regular season matchup. Twin Valley will go as far as ace Ashleigh Davis takes them. Davis, a junior pitcher, will need help from her defense if the Lady Panthers want to make a splash in the Region tournament.
Senior third baseman Rayne Hawthorne, Davis and the Vanover sisters, Leya and Skylar, have led the Lady Panthers at the plate. Sophomore Cheyanna Davis and freshman Kiarra Gross has been huge contributors this season, especially on the base paths. Davis and Gross are extremely good athletes and know how to move from first to third with their base-stealing abilities.
- Hurley coach Chris Wolford has had a tough year as the Lady Rebels program is still in its beginning stages. Senior Kara Hagerman has been a bright spot this season. Pitcher Isabella Ratliff has taken over pitching duties for the Lady Rebels and has shown much improvement since getting the nod.
- There is no way I could pass on bragging on my Boston Celtics, who behind a record-setting 51-point performance by Jayson Tatum in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals last Sunday afternoon, ended the season of league MVP Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, 112-88.
The 76ers then announced on May 16 two days after the loss, that they were parting ways with coach Doc Rivers. Rivers took the heat for the loss despite a poor performance from Embiid and all-star James Harden, who combined for just 24 points in Game 7 versus the Celtics. Harden and Embiid combined only connected on 8 of 29 shooting in the decisive game.
Boston, now in the conference finals and down 2-0 to Miami, will need to do what the Bucks and Knicks couldn’t do, stop Playoff Jimmy (Butler), who dominated Games 1 and 2. He got hot after Grant Williams, barley a rotation player for the Celtics, decided to get in Butler’s face after hitting one 3.
- I predicted that the Lakers and Nuggets series would be a close one, but Nikola Jokic is playing like the MVP and is looking unstoppable. Lakers coach Darvin Ham will need to change the team’s defensive strategy on defending Jokic beyond the perimeter because the big man is deadly behind the 3-point line and has the athletic ability to take a big off the dribble and get to the basket in just a couple of dribbles. He toys with defenders by pulling them out behind the arc.
- Big news for two local seniors: Grundy’s Jessi Looney and Honaker’s Zane Johnson are two of the five finalists for the Pappy Thompson Award selected each year by the Bristol Herald Courier. Congratulations to both Looney and Johnson, as the multi-sport standouts are well-deserving of the honor.