published Monday, April 7th, 2014

Baylor to host Hits for Hope tourney

Baylor Hits for Hope Tournament

Friday's pool play at Warner Park

Field No. 1: South Pittsburg vs. Grundy County, 6; Baylor vs. South Pittsburg, 7:30; St. Benedict vs. Grundy County, 9

Field No. 2: GPS vs. Central, 6; GPS vs. Sale Creek, 7:30; Central vs. Brentwood High, 9

Field No. 3: Baylor vs. Arts & Sciences, 6; Christian Academy of Knoxville vs. Arts & Sciences, 7:30; Baylor vs. CAK, 9

For the second consecutive year, Baylor is hosting a Hits for Hope high school softball tournament Friday and Saturday at Warner Park with proceeds benefitting the MaryEllen Locher Foundation Scholarship Fund.

Two years ago the Lady Red Raiders hosted Red Bank in a Hits for Hope game, but last season decided to expand to a weekend tournament. The number of teams is down this year from 15 to 11, but Baylor coach Kelli Smith is optimistic that between gate receipts, donations and funds from T-shirt sales that the program can match the three scholarships it was able to award last year.

"Unfortunately this time I think there's a really big tournament in Nashville this weekend, too," Smith said. "This is also prom weekend at a lot of schools, and Hamilton County schools are starting spring break. We wanted to have the tournament the first weekend in April like we did last year, but this is our prom weekend. I can't compete with that."

Pool play is set to begin Friday on three fields at 6 p.m. The day's last games slated to start at 9.

Action is scheduled to resume Saturday morning at 9. At the conclusion of pool play teams will be seeded for single-elimination expected to start around 2 p.m. The championship is scheduled for 6:30.

Others raising awareness

Baylor's Hits for Hope Tournament is only the beginning of the cancer-awareness fundraisers this week. On Tuesday, Bledsoe County and Hixson will each be hosting Pink Out games to raise breast-cancer awareness.

Bledsoe County coach Ricky Ritchie said athletic programs at Bledsoe have participated in such events before but believes this is the first attempt at hosting one. And while most teams choose to host a nondistrict opponent, the Lady Warriors' game at 7 p.m. EDT will be a District 7-AA game against Grundy County. Ritchie said the main reason is because he's become friends with Grundy coach Jason Evans.

"He wanted to be involved, too, more than anything," Ritchie said. "His school doesn't normally get the opportunities to do this sort of thing, being so far out there like they are."

Bledsoe has a game scheduled today against Red Bank that could be in jeopardy of being rained out. If so, and because the game on March 31 against Upperman was rained out, the Lady Warriors could end up going 28 days without a home game if they can't play until Tuesday.

"I think it's helped us being on the road," Ritchie said. "The girls had to learn how to work out of their comfort zone. We're glad to finally be playing at home again. We've got several home games coming up on the rest of our schedule."

Hixson's game is against Soddy-Daisy and is also scheduled to start at 7. The MaryEllen Locher Foundation Scholarship Fund will be the beneficiary of both of these events, too.

Marr triples her fun

The TSSAA softball season is a month old and Lookout Valley's Annie Marr is on a pace to do something highly improbable for the duration. But as of now, the junior shortstop has the same number of triples as singles.

Marr has 14 hits thus far in the Lady Yellow Jackets' six games. In addition to her Chattanooga-area-leading five triples among the 21 teams that have reported season-long statistics to the Times Free Press, she's also homered and hit three doubles.

Marr had a back injury last year and was part of the reason the Lady Yellow Jackets didn't have enough players to field a team. Coach Pat Conard is not only happy to see her return but has enjoyed watching her bat . 636, and her 1.364 slugging percentage is highest among area players with more than 20 at-bats.

"She's got good speed and a good sense of where the ball is going, and she's very coachable," Conard said trying to explain Marr's triples binge, but added she knows it's not going to last. "She's hitting the ball really well. She's very hot right now."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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