Normally, a coach is very proud of his players after they contributed to reaching their goal of making the state tournament.
But when one of the players who played a key role is his son – well, that makes it even more special.
Veteran David Lipscomb coach Ernie Smith has won six state baseball championships at the school. Starting Tuesday in Murfreesboro, his Mustangs gun for No. 7.
Thanks in big part to the right arm of junior Keith Smith with two complete game road wins, the Mustangs find themselves in the final eight of the Class AA tournament which opens Tuesday afternoon at Blackman High.
Smith fired an 84-pitch two-hit gem, knocking out perennial power Goodpasture 2-0 last Monday in the region semis. He came back with a workmanlike 124-pitch, nine-strikeout win in an 8-4 win over Giles County in Pulaski on Friday.
Even more impressive – both were elimination games.
“I remember back in 2001 as a little boy growing up when Lipscomb won the big gold ball and how happy I was for my dad,” Keith Smith said over the weekend. “Then one day when I got to high school, I was able to play for him.”
Keith, whose mother Regina was a standout basketball player at Lipscomb, entered tournament play with an unimpressive 2-5 record on the mound but has saved his best for last. His bat speaks even louder with a .350 mark.
“We went through some tough times early on,” the 5-9½, 180-pound Smith who has upped his record to 4-5, said. “But we stayed together and fought through adversity.”
Indeed, Lipscomb is the only team in the tournament with a losing record (16-18), but the Mustangs have played a tough schedule and have overcome early injuries.
“I pitched really well against Goodpasture,” he said. “And at Giles County, things got a little dramatic (Lipscomb held off a last-inning Bobcat rally), but we hung on.
“My catcher Clay Fuson (son of former Overton star Greg Fuson) has done a great job behind the plate, calling pitches. And our hitters have all come around.”
Asked if his son helped carry him into state, Ernie Smith said, “I think you can definitely say that. He pitched great against Goodpasture, and he survived a scare at Giles County. Keith is a lot like the rest of our players – he carries a workmanlike, no-quit type of mentality, do whatever it takes to win. I’m proud of Keith, and I’m proud of our team.”
Lipscomb opens against DeKalb County Tuesday afternoon.
NCS upends defending champ
Nashville Christian School reached the state Class A baseball tournament with a stunning 6-3 sectional road victory Friday against defending champion Summertown.
NCS plays Friendship Christian in its opener Tuesday afternoon at Riverdale High.
DCA’s Wildcats (24-8), who average a state best 11.3 runs per game, opens in DII-A against University School of Jackson.
Two-time defending state champ Brentwood Academy meets Briarcrest Tuesday in DII-AA.
Ezell clinches last softball berth
Ezell-Harding became the final team to clinch a berth in the state softball tournament with a twin bill DII-A sectional softball sweep over Fayette Academy on Sunday afternoon.
The teams were faced with the possibility of having to play a triple-header had they split the first two games, but Ezell kept that from happening with a 5-1, then an 8-1 win at Don Freudenthal field. Friday’s rain and Saturday graduation ceremonies at Ezell forced the Sunday games.
Callie Bobo pitched the first game win, then Christiana Gable pitched the second game and was backed up by a three-run homer in the first inning by Courtney Williams. The Eagles have won 12 state titles.
Davidson Academy had already clinched a final four berth with twin 10-0 shutout wins over FACS Friday behind Holly Hockaday who pitched a no-hitter and a three-hitter.
MBA guns for state tennis title
MBA is looking for some payback in the state tennis tournament.
The Big Red suffered its only team match of the season recently in a 4-3 setback to Baylor, which cost them the No. 1 seed in the region. But once again, MBA has reached the final four and will play MUS in their DII-AA semifinal match at Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Old Fort Park in Murfreesboro.
A win would send them into a finals rematch, likely against Baylor, which is a heavy favorite over rival McCallie in the other semifinal.
“We’re trying not to look ahead, because MUS is an excellent team,” MBA coach Zac Hood said after the Big Red crushed St. Benedict in sectionals 7-0, losing a total of just nine games. “But certainly, a rematch with Baylor is in the back of our minds. We are playing our best tennis of the season, and our team is very confident.”
“We’ve played well lately, and our team is very excited about the challenge of state,” Vanderbilt-bound senior Roger Briggs said.
Added senior Naveen Chadalavada, “We’re getting better each practice, and everybody is looking forward to state.”
Both players smiled when asked about a first-round singles match, which sends the two players, who played 1-2 in the lineup, against each other in the quarterfinals.
“I wish we could have met in the finals rather than the first round, because we would have an all-MBA match in the finals,” Briggs said. “But nonetheless, we should have a good match.”
“We’ve had some good matches against each other in practice,” said Chadalavada, who is headed to Washington University to play tennis. “It should be a fun match and we’ll still be friends when it’s over.”
The defending DII-A champ USN boys and FRA boys qualified for state. Also, the Lipscomb boys and CPA girls made state in A/AA. The Brentwood boys and Ravenwood girls qualified in AAA.
• Both CPA and M.L. King (which is making its first trip) won sectional matches to qualify for the state Class A/AA tournament. If both win semifinals matches Tuesday, they would meet for a fourth time in the finals.
• Centennial High qualified for the AAA tournament with a 1-0 win over Station Camp, thanks to Seth Lister’s second half goal.
• Pope JPII was the only Nashville area team to reach state in DII-AA. The Knights edged Briarcrest 3-2 in sectionals.
• Jackson Christian eliminated defending DII-A state champion University School of Nashville 2-1 in sectionals, leaving Nashville with no teams left in that division.
Track and field
• The defending A/AA state champ MLK boys and last year’s runnerup MLK girls both swept to Sectional championships last Thursday at Lipscomb and will be strong threats to take both titles this week on the MTSU track.
• Brentwood High captured the boys and girls AAA Midstate sectionals as both breezed to titles on the BHS track last Thursday.
Spring Fling schedule
involving Nashville teams
At Riverdale High: 6:30 (appr) – NCS vs. Friendship Christian
At Blackman High: 6:30 (appr) – Lipscomb vs. DeKalb County
At Wilson Central: 6:30 (appr)– Brentwood Academy vs. Briarcrest
At LaVergne High: 6:30 (appr) – DCA vs. USJ
At Starplex Park
5 p.m.—Ravenwood vs. Jefferson County
7 p.m. (appr)—Pope JPII vs. GPS
Ezell-Harding and Davidson Academy have qualified.
(At Siegel Soccer Complex)
7 p.m.—Centennial vs. LaVergne
7 p.m.—CPA vs. CAK; 7:30—MLK vs. Kingsbury
5 p.m.—Pope JPII vs. CBHS
(at Old Fort Park)
Tuesday (Team semifinals)
Class AAA (girls)
1 p.m.—Ravenwood vs. Cleveland; White House vs. Oak Ridge/Science Hill winner
Class AAA (boys)
3 p.m.—Brentwood High vs. Science Hill-Maryville winner; McMinn Co. vs. Houston
Class A/AA (girls)
1 p.m.—CPA vs. Chatt. Christian; CAK vs. Greenfield/Trinity Chr. winner
Class A/AA (boys)
3 p.m.—Lipscomb vs. CAK; Notre Dame vs. Madison Academy
11 a.m.—MBA vs. MUS; McCallie vs. Baylor
9 a.m.—Harpeth Hall vs. GPS; Hutchison vs. Baylor
11 a.m.—Webb vs. FRA; USJ vs. USN.
All team finals
Individual singles/doubles matches
TRACK AND FIELD
Monday: 10 a.m.—Girls pentathlon finals; Boys decathlon, first five events.
Tuesday: 10 a.m.—Decathlon final five events.
Wednesday: 9 a.m.—Girls running prelims; 5 p.m.—Class AAA pole vault finals.
Thursday: 9 a.m.—Girls field event finals, boys running prelims. 6 p.m.—Girls running event finals.
Friday: 9 a.m.—3200 meter finals; 11 a.m.—Boys field event finals; 5 p.m.—Boys running event finals.