Watauga tournament times are set
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
Watauga's baseball team opens the Northwestern Conference Tournament at Patton starting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Watauga's softball team plays its first round game at St. Stephens at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
Both times were made official Saturday.
Watauga's baseball team goes into the tournament with a 10-12 overall record, 4-10 in the Northwestern Conference. The Pioneers have lost their last five NWC meetings, including a 3-1 setback at Patton played on April 17.
The Pioneers also lost 9-7 to the Panthers in Boone on March 25 after making eight errors in the game. Watauga finished sixth in the NWC standings.
Watauga coach Pete Hardee knows that the Pioneers don't have to win the tournament to get a state 4-A berth. Watauga, which is one of two 4-A teams in the NWC -- South Caldwell is the other -- so the state takes both teams into the tournaments.
But Hardee also feels that the league is fairly balanced. South Caldwell, which won the regular season championship, beat Watauga 6-2 on Friday.
He also knows that if the Pioneers' pitchers keep issuing too many walks, or of the Pioneers continue to make key mistakes that cost them runs, it could be a quick exit for them Tuesday night
"If we can throw strikes and play defense, we'll do something in that tournament," Pioneers coach Pete Hardee said. "We are in the state tournament no matter what. The state puts us and South Caldwell in a 3-A league, so we get automatically. We just made too many mistakes. I can't even count them all in a seven inning game."
Patton goes into the game with a 10-4 league record, 14-7 overall. The Panthers finished in third place in the NWC standings behind South Caldwell and Fred T. Foard.
"This team has got potential, and it's not everybody," Hardee said. "We've had bright spots. We've had kids to good things for us, but you've got to have nine do that."
Watauga softball coach Stephanie Kostis was much more optimistic about her team's chances, despite Watauga's 3-11 overall record, 3-10 in the NWC. Watauga finished seventh in the league standings.
St. Stephens finished second in the league standings with a 12-2 league mark, 15-6 overall. The Indians outscored their opponents 151-52 this season, including a 10-0 win over Watauga on March 11 and 10-2 win over the Pioneers on April 9.
Kostis said following Watauga's 14-0 loss to league champion South Caldwell Friday that her players can pull off an upset over St. Stephens and anybody else in the NWC.
Watauga also gets an automatic bid into the state 4-A playoffs as the baseball team does.
"It's a whole new season," Kostis said. "It's anybody's to win. I think our girls are not ready for our season to end."