Area prep teams gear up for state tournament

KNOX COUNTY, Tenn (WVLT) -- The regular season seems to be a mere formality for the Gibbs softball team, as once again, the Lady Eagles have qualified for the state tournament.

The squad practiced Monday afternoon before departing for Murfreesboro, site of the Tennessee spring sports state championships.

A year ago Gibbs finished third at state. The team has everybody back from 2010 and head coach Carol Mitchell says a third place finish, or any other finish except first, will be a disappointment.

"We're not gonna be happy if we come back with anything other than a state championship," Mitchell said during Monday's practice. "I told the girls yesterday, 'we're gonna walk in with blinders on and we're gonna stay focused all the way till Friday.'"

Gibbs has won a staggering eight state championships in softball, second most in the state (Ezell Harding has 12). However, the Lady Eagles haven't won it all since 2000.

"We have 41 wins," Mitchell continued. "And if we win one more game, we get the most wins in Gibbs High School history. So this is a history making team and they have all the components to make up a state championship team."

Gibbs opens up play in Class AA state softball tournament Tuesday at 6 pm against Bledsoe County.

While the Lady Eagles are very familiar with playing in the state tournament, the Christian Academy of Knoxville baseball team is making its first ever appearance at state.

"I would have not expected us to go this quick," CAK head coach Tommy Pharr said Monday.

After winning five state titles with powerhouse Farragut High School, Pharr is now in his second season with the Warriors.

The Warriors enter their first game at the state tournament with a 27-7 record.

"We had a good team last year. The region game last year got us and I just think a year's experience has helped us," Pharr said. "Our guys are real close. We have a real good group of kids and they're all close to each other on and off the field. "

"I think they believe in each other and they fight to the end."

CAK opens up state tournament play 5 pm Tuesday against Lexington (26-10).

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