Battle vs Union softball

Union's Heather Lipps watches her ball fly foul Friday evening at John Battle.


Region 1C

George Wythe (8-12) at Covington

Today, 5 p.m.

The Skinny: George Wythe is a dangerous team and the Maroons are very capable of going on the road and winning this game. “We have had some ups and downs this season,” said GW coach Donnie Gamble. “Our defense has been impressive this season. We just need to get our bats going to go along with the defense. Our kids have worked hard all season and are ready for the tournament.” … Avery Mabe (.456 batting average; 4-3, one save, 1.04 ERA on the mound), Josh Devine (.414 batting average), Dakota Goins and Cole Simmons have been the leaders for GW. Mabe, a junior, is a University of Virginia commit, while Devine is a four-year starter for the Maroons … Skylar Barnett, Simon Gibson and Isaac Craft are among the top hitters for the Covington Cougars.

Up Next: The winner plays either Auburn or Eastern Montgomery on Wednesday in the regional semifinals.

Rural Retreat (6-15) at Parry McCluer (20-2)

Today, 5 p.m.

The Skinny: Colby Sprouse (.468, 20 RBIs) and Justin Woodward (.362) have been the top hitters for Rural Retreat, while ace pitcher Wesley Gilman has a 3.70 ERA with 87 strikeouts. … Rural Retreat has improved from last season and got rewarded with a regional tournament bid. “Much more competitive this season,” said Indians coach Van Harris. “We’ve been in several tight games that have not gone in our favor. But we have been very competitive and played very well at times.” … Brady Smith, Lucas Brewer, R.J. Bandrimer, Hunter Lemmon, Adam Bailey and Ryan Newby are among the standouts for the Indians. … Parry McCluer of the Pioneer District earned its first regular-season district crown in 33 years and won the league tournament for the first time since 2014.

Up Next: Either Galax or Craig County awaits the winner in a regional semifinal contest

Region 2D

Graham (10-10) at John Battle (14-9)

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: While John Battle is used to getting to this point, regional tournaments are a rarity for Graham’s baseball program. … The G-Men are in the regional tourney for the first time since 1990 and they finished third in the Southwest District regular-season standings. … Third baseman Jon Oster (.439 batting average, 2-1 pitching record) and outfielder Isaiah Justice (.320, 3-0 pitching record) are the tone-setters for the G-Men. … Despite losing some key personnel from last season’s squad, John Battle finished second in the Mountain 7 District regular-season standings and third in the league tournament. Left-hander Landon Moore, who has signed with the University of Virginia’s College at Wise, and Garett Bowman are pitching well. Zane Poe, Micah Whitt, Dylan Cunningham, Eli Todd, Zach Smith and Bryson Almany have been tough outs. … Jimmy Gobble is in his second season as Battle’s head coach. He pitched in 247 big-league games for the Kansas City Royals and Chicago White Sox from 2003-09. … “We know we are gonna see a well-coached team with a lot of tradition and pride to back that up,” said Graham coach Willie Miller. “They will have solid pitching anchored by one of the best arms in the state in Landon Moore. We’ve wanted to get to this point as a program for a while and it’s fitting that we are facing a perennial powerhouse like Battle. Win or lose, we want to prove we belong.”

Up Next: The winner plays either Virginia High or Gate City in Wednesday’s regional semifinals at John Battle High School.

Gate City (12-11) at Virginia High (11-11)

Today, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: This is an intriguing first-round matchup. … Virginia High is the defending regional champion, but the Bearcats have had a roller-coaster of a 2019 season as they’ve dealt with injuries and inconsistency. … Justin Lewis and Aaron Rose have been mashers at the plate for VHS, while King University signee Jordan Dixon is the team’s top pitcher. … First-year head coach Jonathon Salyer has helped Gate City win five more games than it did a year ago. Junior Jon Compton is hitting .469 with five home runs and 23 RBIs, while reaching base safely in all 23 games. Freshman Carson Jenkins (.375 batting average, .471 on-base percentage), sophomore pitcher Jake Taylor (4-2, two saves, 2.15 ERA) and freshman slugger Carter Babb (21 RBIs) are other standouts for the Blue Devils. … “Gate City is a solid team that swings the bats well,” said Virginia High coach Mark Daniels. “The Compton kid is one of the best players around. We will have to bring our A-game if we want to advance to the region semis. We have started to swing the bats much better than earlier in the year and will have to continue to do to advance.”

Up Next: Either John Battle or Graham will play the winner on Wednesday in a Region 2D semifinal clash at John Battle High School.

Grayson County (15-6-1) at Union (14-9)

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: Both these teams appear to be hitting their stride. … Grayson County won the Mountain Empire District tournament, while Union fell to Class 3 Abingdon in the finals of the Mountain 7 District tourney. … Pitcher/third baseman Shawn Campbell, third baseman/pitcher Cal Campbell, outfielder Jake Hollingsworth and shortstop/pitcher Andrew Shaffner are the players to watch for Grayson County. Cal Campbell tossed a four-hit shutout to beat Auburn in the finals of the MED tournament. … The Blue Devils posted a 32-13 win over Marion in March. … Grayson County will drop down to the Class 1 level in the fall. … Seniors Landry Baker, Hunter Anderson, Austin Gibson, Brandon Bunch and Nate Bailey are among those leading the way for Union. … David Wyrick is in his first season as Union’s head coach. He guided J.J. Kelly to a state championship in 2008 and has had some battles against Grayson County in the past. … “Coach [Mike] Worrell always fields a very well-coached baseball team and is a class act,” Wyrick said.

Up Next: The winner plays either Lebanon or Wise County Central on Wednesday in a regional semifinal game at John Battle High School.

Wise County Central (9-11) at Lebanon (19-2)

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: Lebanon has been one of Southwest Virginia’s elite teams all season. … The only losses for the Pioneers were an 11-1 setback to Tennessee High on March 30 and an 8-7 loss at the hands of Virginia High on May 16. …. The Pioneers rallied from deficits of 8-1 and 9-3 to post an 11-10 victory over Virginia High in the finals of the Southwest District tournament. … Sophomore pitcher Matthew Buchanan has been dominant on the mound, sophomore shortstop/pitcher Preston Steele has made some clutch plays and Cole Stoots has been a versatile standout for the Pioneers. Stoots is a four-time state wrestling champion. … Lebanon opened the season with a 10-0 victory over Central as Buchanan pitched a no-hitter and Logan Smith hit a two-run homer. … Bryson Collins has been a two-way terror for Wise County Central. He’s hitting .421 with seven home runs and 25 RBIs and owns four wins on the mound. … Jeremy “J.W.” Salyers is in his first season as Central’s head coach after previous stints leading the programs at Castlewood, Powell Valley and Union. Salyers played professional baseball from 1996-2001 and reached the Class AAA level with the Montreal Expos. … “We’re well aware that Lebanon is a good team that has a goal to be in the state final four,” Salyers said. “They have some good young players that compete at a high level and we’re wanting to match that.”

Up Next: The winner meets either Union or Grayson County in a regional semifinal contest on Wednesday at John Battle High School.


Region 1C

Rural Retreat (9-11) at Craig County (13-8)

Today, 5 p.m.

The Skinny: Rural Retreat has just one senior on its roster (Jessie Cregger), but still qualified for the regional tournament and went 6-6 in Mountain Empire District play. … Freshmen Candice Miller and Myra Seymore have acclimated well to the varsity level. Juniors Lauren Stuart and Hannah Stuart have hit the ball well too. … Hannah Taylor is the top pitcher and hitter for Craig County. She has a .652 batting average and a 1.50 ERA. Kaylee Pauley (.519, five home runs) and Jaci McAlwee (.435, four homers) are standouts as well for the Rockets.

Up Next: Either Auburn or Bath County will be Wednesday’s regional semifinal opponent for the winner.

Covington at George Wythe

Today, 5 p.m.

The Skinny: The George Wythe Maroons of first-year head coach MaKena Morris Johnson will host a regional tournament game today … GW played one of the wildest games in Southwest Virginia this season, a 39-29 triumph over Bland County in April. … Makenzie Ingo is the ace pitcher and a top hitter for George Wythe.

Up Next: The winner plays either Parry McCluer or Galax in Wednesday’s regional semifinals.

Region 2D

Grayson County (14-6) at John Battle (18-3)

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: This is the first regional tournament matchup since 2007 between these programs. Battle posted a 4-3 win over Grayson County in the semifinals of the Region C tournament 12 years ago in Covington as Rachel Draper scored the go-ahead run on Tara Cannon’s double with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. Nikita Belcher pitched a complete-game six-hitter that day. … The coaches of these two teams were college softball stars. Grayson County boss Mandy Smith Miller hit .409 with 111 RBIs during her time at Emory & Henry College from 2000-2003. First-year John Battle coach Hannah Light Cress pitched to the tune of a 71-39 record with a 1.81 ERA and 651 strikeouts for the King University Tornado from 2012-14. … Battle has outscored its opponents 209-50 and has connected for 31 home runs to go along with a cumulative batting average of .391. Madison Hill (.449, 17 RBIs), Haylee Dye (.419, seven home runs, 23 RBIs), Maggie Deel (.343, five homers, 29 RBIs) and Emma Harmon (.517, four homers, 21 RBIs) are among the star sluggers for the Trojans. … John Battle has lost just once to a VHSL opponent. … Dez Choate (.470, three homers, 23 RBIs) and Grace Hawks (.429, 28 RBIs) lead the way for Grayson County.

Up Next: The winner plays either Richlands or Ridgeview on Wednesday in the semifinals of the regional tournament at Lebanon.

Ridgeview (13-10) at Richlands (18-4)

Today, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Having finished as state runner-up the past two seasons, Richlands appears primed for another deep postseason run. … Pitcher Mac Osborne has a perfect game and two no-hitters this season for the Blue Tornado. The lineup has been balanced with many different players delivering timely hits. … Richlands owns a 3-1 win over The King’s Academy, which won the TSSAA Division II-A state title last week. … The top of Ridgeview’s lineup is good as Hunter Grant, Nikole Counts, Bailey Frazier, Carissa Mullins and L.J. Swiney have hit the ball well all year. … Counts is the ace pitcher for the Wolfpack and is one of the area’s top female athletes. … “Richlands is a heck of a challenge for us,” said Ridgeview coach Kent Grant. “But I feel the daily grind of the Mountain 7 District has prepared us for the challenges of the regional tournament.” … Richlands coach Ronnie Davis is not overlooking the Wolfpack. “Ridgeview is one of the best teams we will play all year,” Davis said. “Counts is an excellent pitcher. Ridgeview hits the ball well with great athleticism and speed. They are well-coached and it will be a great challenge to come out with a victory.”

Up Next: The winner will play John Battle or Grayson County on Wednesday at Lebanon in a regional semifinal clash.

Tazewell at Union (14-8)

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: The Union Bears have fared well under first-year head coach Makenzie Cluesman. Marleigh Duncan, Brooke Light, Heather Lipps and Emili Brooks are the tone-setters for the Bears. “I think we have had a good season thus far,” Cluesman said. “We’ve made some mistakes in different games, but we have gotten better as the season has gone on. We’ve battled every game, win or lose.” … Light hit three home runs in a game against Wise County Central earlier this year. … Tazewell is a regular in regional tournament play under veteran head coach Tom Keene. The Bulldogs suffered a 14-2 first-round loss to John Battle last year. “Tazewell is a good team and they have a good pitcher [Alivia Nolley],” Cluesman said. “We are going to have to come ready to play.”

Up Next: Either Lebanon or Gate City awaits the winner in Wednesday’s regional semifinals at Lebanon.

Gate City (13-9-1) at Lebanon (15-7)

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: Lebanon is trying to reach the state tournament for the fourth straight year and the Pioneers have a veteran crew. … Morgan Hamm (8-4) and Adrienne Morrison (7-3) have split the pitching duties. Hamm, Madison Varney, Tatum Dye, Kara Long and Haley Finney have hammered opposing pitching all season long … Sarah Thompson (.438, 19 RBIs) is one of Region 2D’s top sluggers, while Kate Pendleton has a 2.40 ERA in the circle for Gate City. “We’ve had multiple one-run games this season,” said Gate City coach Cara Hamilton Noe. “Some of those games we’ve lost in the last inning and some we’ve been able to sneak out in the last inning. Our team works hard on a day-to-day basis.”

Up Next: The winner plays either Union or Tazewell in a regional semifinal showdown on Wednesday in Lebanon.


Region 1C

George Wythe (5-4-2) at Parry McCluer

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: A quartet of solid seniors have led the way for George Wythe, which has played a challenging schedule. … Kyle Alley (10 goals, five assists), Noah Pease (two goals, one assist), Jared Arnold (four goals, one assists) and defensive stopper Isaac Patton have had productive seasons for the Maroons.

Up Next: The winner advances to Wednesday’s regional semifinals.

Region 2D

Lebanon at Gate City (14-4-2)

Today, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: The heroes have been numerous this spring for the Gate City Blue Devils. … Goalkeeper Luke Reed has 12 shutouts and more than 100 saves. Andrew Pendleton, Matt Johnson, Levi Rhoton, Noah Jones, Arturo Morales, Ethan Dishner, Ethan Shipley, David Edwards, Preston Babb, Jake Roper, Christian Hinkle, Daniel Mann, Austin Roberts, Cam Simpson, Kenny Hammonds, Austin Gamble, Landon Fletcher and Zac Carter have all made valuable contributions. … “Our guys have worked hard this year and it shows,” said Gate City coach Aaron Hillman. “We are not fully where we need to be, nor are we mediocre anymore. I feel like we have proven that we can compete in [the Mountain 7 District] this season and I look forward to seeing what these guys can do in the years to come. Lebanon has an excellent coach in Jason Wilson and he will have his team ready to go on Monday. We will have to play solid and give it everything we have to advance in region play.”

Up Next: The winner plays either Richlands or John Battle in Wednesday’s regional semifinals at Gate City.

John Battle at Richlands

Today, 5 p.m.

The Skinny: It’s been an eventful spring for John Battle’s athletic program. … The school’s baseball, softball, boys soccer and girls soccer teams all play first-round regional tournament games today. The boys tennis team won the Region 2D tournament on Friday. … Jayden Farley and Dakota Worley have been top scorers on the pitch for the Trojans. … Ethan Shreve and Ryan Lawson scored goals for Richlands as the Blue Tornado took a 2-1 win over Graham in the finals of the Southwest District tournament. … Levi Forrest is also a star for the Blues and is a NCAA Division I football prospect as a kicker.

Up Next: Either Gate City or Lebanon meets the winner in Wednesday’s regional semifinals at Gate City.

Ridgeview (10-7) at Graham

At East River Soccer Complex

Today, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Ridgeview’s fledgling program has made some major strides in 2019. “Exceptional,” said head coach Eric Vitatoe. “Being in only our fourth year of existence with minimal soccer experience before this, these boys have really embraced the game and I am very proud of how far we have come.” … Alijah Sproles (12 goals) and Ayden Vitatoe (six assists) are threats to score. Goalkeeper Alex Fleming has five shutouts, while Colby Hackney and Landon Knepp are fine fullbacks. … The trip to Bluefield won’t be a program for Ridgeview’s road warriors. “During a two and a half week stretch earlier this season, the team was forced to play seven straight road games,” Vitatoe said. “During this span they won games in Washington, Russell, Lee and Wise Counties.” … Graham is a regional tournament regular and and the G-Men will provide a good measuring stick for the crew from Ridgeview. “Graham is one of the toughest teams on this end of the state year in and year out,” Vitatoe said. “Reading about them consistently scoring five and six goals per game means we have a real challenge on our hands.”

Up Next: The winner faces either Union or Marion in Wednesday’s regional semifinals at Gate City.

Marion (9-7) at Union (13-6)

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: The Union Bears had a nine-game winning streak earlier this season and own a win over Class 3 Abingdon. … “I like this group,” said head coach Bryan Wharton. …. Nick Reese leads a strong defensive unit for Marion. Titus Hannula and Devin Norris are the offensive catalysts for the Scarlet Hurricanes. The biggest win for head coach Randy Roe’s squad was a 2-0 triumph over Richlands on April 30.

Up Next: Either Graham or Ridgeview clashes with the winner in Wednesday’s regional semifinals at Gate City.


Region 1C

Parry McCluer at George Wythe (10-6)

Today, 6 p.m.

The Skinny: Mariah Faulkner (14 goals) and Nevada Kincer (12 goals) have been the pace-setters for George Wythe, which finished as runner-up in the Mountain Empire District to Auburn. … Lindsey Sweet has had success as well for the Maroons, who have won four of their last five games. … “I don’t know much about Parry McCluer,” said GW coach Benjamin Campbell. “But I think if the girls show up and play the way we have been playing the last five games we should have some success.”

Up Next: The winner plays at Eastern Montgomery on Wednesday in a regional semifinal showdown.

Region 2D

Virginia High (4-10-5) at John Battle (16-0-2)

At Sugar Hollow Park

Today, 5 p.m.

The Skinny: The John Battle Trojans have played tough this season and already own 3-0 and 6-0 victories over Virginia High. … “Virginia High is always a tough, physical match,” said John Battle coach Colleen Johnson Shirey. “It’s that Bristol rivalry, so we know they are going to give us a great game on Monday.” … John Battle’s Melina Turner (27 goals) and Madison Chappell (nine goals) are dynamic on offense. Isabella Jessee and Michaela Monk lead the defense. … Virginia High has started eight freshmen and sophomores for most of the season. Ninth-grader Maria Wilson has scored 13 goals, while sophomore Kelly Locke has played well too. … Senior goalkeeper Haley Tham has recorded 190 saves for the Bearcats, while junior Caitlin Hampton is a defensive force. … “Battle has a really strong defensive presence in Michaela Monk and they work well together offensively,” said VHS coach Justin Hayden. “We look forward to competing with our county neighbors.”

Up Next: The winner plays Graham or Wise County Central in Wednesday’s regional semifinals at Sugar Hollow Park in Bristol.

Wise County Central at Graham

At East River Soccer Complex

Today, 5 p.m.

The Skinny: Soccer is serious business in Bluefield and Graham once again has a strong squad. Kathryn Perdue is the star for the G-Girls. … Graham dropped a 3-0 decision to Richlands in the finals of the Southwest District tournament.

Up Next: The winner plays either John Battle or Virginia High on Wednesday in a regional semifinal match at Sugar Hollow Park in Bristol.

Tazewell at Gate City (11-2-4)

Today, 5 p.m.

The Skinny: Mario Jaramillo is Gate City’s first-year head coach and the Blue Devils are solid as usual. … Amanda Vermillion (24 goals), Jamie Watts (15 goals), Abby Williams (seven goals) are capable of finding the back of the net anytime they have possession of the ball. … Caroline Dishner, Grace Mullins, Ashley Carter and Lola Corillo have played well too, while Brooklyn Smith and Katelynn Parton have both been strong in goal. ... “This team is constantly improving and it shows,” Jaramillo said. “We all have our good days and our bad. We’re trying to make them all good.” … Head coach Molly Thompson Leftwich has helped Tazewell’s program improve immensely.

Up Next: The winner plays either Richlands or Lee High on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in a regional semifinal match at Sugar Hollow Park in Bristol.

Lee High (7-8) at Richlands (13-3-1)

Today, 7 p.m.

The Skinny: Richlands personifies the old adage that good programs don’t rebuild, they reload. … Balance has been the buzzword for the Blue Tornado as 10 different players have scored goals this season … “Plagued with injuries in a rebuilding year that at times looked bleak,” said Richlands coach LaRhonda Lindsey. “But these ladies have dug deep and turned this into another successful season.” … Haley Anderson has a team-high 14 goals for Lee, while goalkeeper Emily Ledford has made 152 saves. Sydney Smith, Kandace Quillen, Pauline “Philly” Tolentino, Abigail Edwards and Chloe Young have been valuable contributors for the Generals too. … Richlands recorded a 5-1 win over Lee in the first round of last year’s Region 2D tournament. “Richlands is a very experienced and seasoned opponent,” said Lee coach Michael Elkins. “We met up with Richlands in this same situation last year. They are a very aggressive and defensive team. We have taken what we learned from playing them last year to prepare for this game this year with the hopes of a different outcome.”

Up Next: Either Gate City or Tazewell awaits the winner in Wednesday’s regional semifinals at Sugar Hollow Park in Bristol.

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