Cleveland State Cougars And Lady Cougars Look To Make Noise In Tournament

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 - by Bryan Grisham
It's tournament time in Tennessee. The Regular season is just a recent memory now as the Cleveland State baseball and softball teams will turn their attention to the NJCAA/TCCAA Region VII Conference Tournament.
 
The new tournament format of a year ago, where only the top four teams qualified for postseason play didn't sit well with a lot of folks, so the format has been changed this year in an attempt to be fair to all 10 schools.
 
The top five seeded teams in both baseball and softball will host the bottom five seeds this weekend in a best two out of three series with the winners advancing to the next weekend for the double elimination round of the tournament to be held at Volunteer State.

 
"We have a unique problem with spring sports, because our tournament time coincides with the end of school and graduation," explained Cleveland State Athletic Director and baseball coach Mike Policastro. "We had to try to come up with a way to be fair to all the teams and still work around graduation."
 
"I think this is a better way to do it, compared to last year," the coach continued. "Last year some good teams got left out. You never know what can happen in the tournament, a team could be just so-so in the regular season and then get a key player back or just get hot and play up to their potential and win the tournament. I've seen it happen before. This format gives everybody a shot and that's all you can ask for."
 
On the softball side of the bracket, top seeded and Nationally ranked Chattanooga State will host 10th seeded Southwest Tennessee, second seeded Walters State will host Jackson State (9), Columbia State will host Motlow State in a three-eight matchup, seventh seeded Roane State will travel to fourth seeded Dyersburg State and the sixth seeded Cleveland State Lady Cougars will travel to fifth seeded Volunteer State.
 
The Lady Cougars have been one of the hottest teams in the conference down the stretch as they finished the regular season campaign by winning 14 of their last 18 games including 12 wins in a row.
 
"It was a struggle early in the year," stated Lady Cougar coach Katie Willingham. "A number of factors played into our slow start, weather, injuries and so on. But, the girls never gave up and kept working and fighting hard and they turned it around. We lost a lot of close games early, but we finally started doing a lot of the little things that is often the difference between winning and losing."
 
The Lady Cougars will face Volunteer State in Gallatin this weekend and know they will have their work cut out for them as Cleveland State swept the four regular season games between the two teams.
 
"They are a really good team, especially on their home field," said Willingham. "We will have to play well to win, but we are excited for the opportunity and ready to go."
 
On the baseball side, Columbia State captured the top seed and will host 10th seeded Roane State. Second seeded and Nationally ranked Walters State will host ninth seeded Southwest Tennessee, Jackson State (3) will host Dyersburg State (8), seventh seeded Volunteer State will travel to fourth seeded Chattanooga State and the sixth seeded Cleveland State Cougars will hit the road to fifth seeded Motlow State.
 
The Cougars took two out of three from the Bucks in the regular season series and will be looking to repeat that outcome this weekend. Cleveland State went 14-6 in their last 20 games including a three-game win streak to end the season and hope to ride that momentum into the tournament.
 
"Motlow is a good steady team, they don't beat themselves and we will have to play well to go up there and win," stated Policastro. "We were 1-6 in one run games this year, that is a big stat. We've had an up and down year, battled a few injuries, but mostly we haven't been consistent enough to win the close games. We have to do the little things, keep the errors to a minimum and come up with the clutch hit. We're excited and it should be a good series."
 
As always, Mother Nature plays a big role at tournament time, but both Cleveland State teams are scheduled to open play on Friday. The Softball teams will play a doubleheader and then a single game the next day if necessary while the the baseball teams will play three, nine inning games in three days.

No. 2 Ole Miss Pulls Away To Whip Tennessee, 34-3

OXFORD, Miss. – A hopeful night turned into a nightmare for Tennessee’s youthful Volunteers. Third-ranked Mississippi, behind a two-touchdown performance by quarterback Bo Wallace and a smothering defense, separated itself in the second half and went on to smack Tennessee, 34-3, on homecoming Saturday night at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. The Vols lost their two previous ... (click for more)

St. Andrew's-Sewanee Rolls On Senior Night

St. Andrew’s-Sewanee earned its 5th win on its Senior Night on Friday , beating the Middle Tennessee Heat 54-30.   The Mountain Lions took an early lead and kept the scores coming. Offensively, seniors Levi Higgins and Riley Rhoton led the SAS team to 524 total yards, with 338 of those coming from Higgins. Higgins ran for 5 touchdowns and returned a kickoff for ... (click for more)

Attorneys For Life Care Centers Of America Seek Direct Appeal On Key Issue In Federal Lawsuit

Attorneys for Life Care Centers of America are seeking a direct appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on a key issue in the case in which the federal government is seeking millions of dollars in reimbursements, plus treble damages, against the Cleveland, Tn.,-based firm. The attorneys want to appeal a decision by Federal Judge Sandy Mattice that would allow the testimony ... (click for more)

Couple Die In Wreck In Marion County After Vehicle Goes Off Highway In A Curve

Two people died in a wreck in Marion County late Saturday night. The victims were identified as Glenda White, 33, of Palmer, Tn., and Jeremy Braden, 28, of Gruetli Laager, Tn. Both were ejected from their vehicle. They ran off the left side of Highway 108 at a curve while going north. The vehicle went through a fence into a field, before striking a tree and then coming ... (click for more)

Frances Pope Is The Only Answer For East Ridge Mayor

The time is upon us to stand together for a change, a changing of the guard for the better.  A time to elect officials that will actually listen to all the citizens that have concerns. A time to come together to watch East Ridge grow with new development. A time to elect the people in charge of the direction the city goes. A time when community involvement is essential. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: UT Ain’t Heard Nothing Yet!

Just moments before Florida would seal a football 10-9 victory over Tennessee in early October, the student section in Neyland Stadium stooped to a new low when it vociferously chanted, “F*** you, Florida! F*** you, Florida!” It was shocking, a loud and vulgar display of all that sportsmanship isn’t, and served as a great embarrassment to Knoxville and the university. Jimmy Cheek, ... (click for more)