Written by Mike Kelly
Saturday, 01 May 2010 07:26
The brackets for the Northwestern 3A/4A Conference Tournament are set.
The Pioneers (16-8 overall; 10-2 in the NW3A/4A), the regular-season champions and No.1 seed, will receive a bye in the opening round. The tournament begins Tuesday night with the higher seeds hosting games.
South Caldwell, the No.2 seed, entertains the No.7 seed Hibriten; Alexander Central, the No.3 seed, takes on No.6 St. Stephens in Taylorsville; and the No.4 seed, Hickory entertains the No.5 seed Fred T. Foard.
WHS will play the Hickory-Fred T. Foard winner Thursday afternoon at 4:30 pm. Our coverage of that game begins at 4 pm on Oldies 100.7 FM. Hardee is still undecided who will get the starting nod in that semi-final matchup. But Cal Hardee seems a likely choice.
The second semi-final game Thursday night finds the South Caldwell-Hibriten winner taking on the Alexander Central-St. Stephens winner at 7 pm. The finals will be played Friday night at 7 pm. Saturday will be a rain date.
"I like our chances going in," said WHS coach Pete Hardee. "We're playing with a lot of confidence right now, and we because our pitching has been pretty deep this year, we have some options to look at depending on who we play.
"But let's not get ahead of ourselves. We still have to win that first game on Thursday. But it would be nice to pull off a tournament championship. We haven't done it in a while (2000)."
The Pioneers were also blessed with a number of post-season awards. Seven players were named to the all-NW3A/4A Conference team---Cal Hardee, Max Linville, David Martin, Josh Wyant, Dylan Norris, Josh Roberts and Matt Proffitt. Norris was named the NW3A/4A Pitcher of the Year. He was 6-0 with a 2.97 earned-run-average. He nosed out Tyler Barnette of Hickory to win the award. And Hardee was named the NW3A/4A Coach of the Year.
NOTES: The Pioneers are riding an eight-game winning streak. That's their longest winning streak since 2000.....The Pioneers have won back-to-back conference championships for the first time since 1998 and 1999, when they were members of the old Northwestern 3A/4A Conference. They actually won four in a row during that stretch from 1998-2001. They shared a co-championship with McDowell in '01........The Pioneers have are 2-6 lifetime in tournament championship games. They've been to the finals two years in a row, only to be victimized by South Caldwell each time.