Tennessee High was a very slight favorite to win the league championship, edging Science Hill. Dobyns-Bennett was a strong third and Boone took the No. 4 spot.
Cherokee, David Crockett and Volunteer will have to battle their way into contention for an upper-half finish.
Big 7 predictions
1. Tennessee High
2. Science Hill
4. Daniel Boone
6. David Crockett
The Vikings are strong on the mound with a good lineup to boot. They have every right to be optimistic.
“We are an experienced and talented group with eight seniors, several of whom have started varsity since their sophomore year,” said coach Preston Roberts. “If we stay healthy we have the opportunity to do some special things.”
At the head of the pitching rotation are senior right-hander Davis Hall and senior lefty Gavin Cross.
At the plate, Cross, also a center fielder, is arguably the Vikings’ best stick. Hall, who also plays first base, and senior shortstop C.J. Hess are also boom-stick worthy.
Coach Ryan Edwards has a new bunch of Hilltoppers, but the talent well isn’t dry.
“We have a lot of new faces that are working hard to get better every day,” Edwards said. “Our goal as always is to play our best baseball in May.”
The starting lineup boasts hitters like Caleb Marmo, a junior center fielder, Matthew Levi, a junior catcher, and senior shortstop Cade McCoy.
On the hill, the top of the rotation features senior right-handers Drew Honeycutt and Quinn Boyle.
The Indians should be ready for a good season in terms of pitching. If the hitting catches up, D-B could be dangerous.
“We will need to really execute our offense and find a way to get some clutch hits with runners on base,” said coach Ryan Wagner.
“The conference is going to be strong. Several teams have several players back.”
Leading the way in pitching this year will be senior left-hander Brogan Beckner and junior right-hander Jackson McDavid.
In the everyday lineup, D-B’s top threats are junior catcher Aaron Farley, Beckner, who also plays in the outfield and McDavid, who mans first base when he’s not pitching.
The Trailblazers’ fortunes start on the mound with left-handed junior Cade Elliott.
“Cade is a very talented player who has verbally committed to Tennessee,” coach Rob Hoover noted. “He knows there is a lot of improving to do, but is willing and will be a key part of our success.”
Complementing Elliott as a starter is right-handed senior Hunter Adams.
At the plate, Hoover will rely on Elliott (.400 with 14 doubles last season), Hunter Adams (.347, 31 RBIs) and Logan Rivers (.330).
“This team has a lot of experience back from the 2018 team,” Hoover added. “Offensively, I feel we can be comparable to last year with the ability to get some extra base hits. Pitching and defense will be the critical factors for us.”
New coach Spencer Street said being competitive is important right off the bat for the Pioneers.
“We want to compete,” Street said. “These players worked their tails off in the offseason and put themselves in a great position to succeed.
“Our goal is to be a threat every time we step on a field,” he said.
Street turns to a trio of pitchers for Crockett’s league games: senior left-hander Luke Adams, senior right-hander Grady Cash, and junior right-hander Cade Larkins.
At the plate, the Pioneers are led by Cash, also a second baseman, Larkins, also a third baseman, and junior first baseman Isaac Stephens.
Senior pitcher Nick Collins will be counted on heavily this season by the Chiefs.
“Nick Collins is our guy!” said coach Matthew Carter. “He has put forth a lot of work to set himself up to have a great year. He is competitor on the bump for us, and I know he will compete to win us some ballgames. He is a great shortstop and will be one of our go-to guys offensively this year.”
Also in the important-game pitching mix for Cherokee is junior right-hander Jesse Forgety.
Joining Collins as threats at the plate are senior designated hitter Japheth Curtsinger and junior catcher Dylan Johnson.
“My hopes for this year are for our team to compete each and every week to set us up for a good spot in the tournament,” Carter added. “We want to make a run in the tournament and play for a district championship.”
The little things matter, said coach Mike Castle.
“I want our team to make each other better and improve from game to game and week to week,” Castle said. “We have to make routine plays.”
The Falcons’ leading pitchers are right-handers Eli Dixon, a senior, and Tucker Bellamy, a sophomore.
At the plate, Castle said junior catcher Aaron Wills and Dixon, who will play third base when he isn’t pitching, are the top threats.
“I have a couple others who have the potential to be good hitters,” the coach noted.