CHS softball wins District 8-AAA title

Pictured is the CHS softball team with the District 8-AAA championship plaque following their 10-6 win over Lincoln County in the District 8-AAA tournament championship game on Thursday, May 10, 2018 in Fayetteville. The girls added a region title that year before falling in the state sectionals to Walker Valley. (Staff photo by Jim Bratton).

Spring and softball. More notably - spring and successful softball. To say winning is expected on the diamond each spring in Manchester is nothing but stating the obvious. 

With the Coffee County Central High School softball team set to play in the Region 4-AAA semi finals Monday, May 13, when the Lady Raiders host Blackman at 7 p.m., we decided to take a look back at recent postseason history for CHS. 

2016: District disappointment

CHS went into the 2016 District 8-AAA Tournament with high expectations. The Lady Raiders were the regular-season district champions with a district record of 11-1.

Despite the regular season success, the Lady Raiders didn't get off to a great start in the tournament. Taking on Shelbyville in their first game, CHS was upset by the Golden Eaglettes in a 7-4 loss. Six errors allowed four unearned runs for Shelbyville and sent the Lady Raiders into the losers bracket.

The Lady Raiders needed four wins to qualify for the region and five to win the district. They got started with a 10-5 defeat of Lincoln County and then beat tournament host Franklin County 3-1. Taking on Tullahoma in the district semifinal, the girls' season came to a close with a 13-4 loss. CHS finished the season with a 22-18 overall record.

Lady Raiders finish fourth in Spring Fling State Tournament

The Lady Raiders didn't let a tough 2016 finish slow them down. The team returned to form in '17, claiming a second-straight regular season district title by defeating Shelbyville 4-2 in the regular-season finale. 

CHS opened district tournament play by blanking the Golden Eaglettes 8-0. The team fell in the next round 8-4 to Lawrence County, but rebounded in the losers bracket to again defeat Shelbyville 2-1. CHS still fell short of the district crown, falling to Lawrence County 10-4. 

The second-place finish secured the Lady Raiders a spot in the region tournament, which they opened with an 11-0 shutout victory over Smyrna on the road. After missing the district title game due to injury, Kaylee Skipper came back to hold Smyrna to three hits.

The win advanced the girls to the region title game, where they took on Lawrence County for the fifth time that season. Despite losing 1-0 to the Lady Cats, the win over the Smyrna ensured a chance to compete for a spot in the state tournament at the sectional.

CHS did just that with a 3-0 victory over Soddy Daisy, which sent CHS back to the TSSAA Spring Fling Tournament for the first time since 2014. At state, the Lady Raiders finished with a 2-2 tournament record to claim fourth place. 

The state-contender Lady Raiders finished 2017 with a 26-18-1 record.

2018: A new coach and district, region championships

Following the team's fourth-place finish at the state tournament in 2017, head coach Steve Wilder resigned from the position. Wilder had been the CHS head coach for two seasons and had been named the 2017 District 8-AAA Coach of the Year.

In came coach Brandon McWhorter, who inherited a team with high expectations. McWhorter was a CHS alumnus and former assistant coach to Terry Floyd, the winningest coach in Lady Raider history. 

Under his watch, the Lady Raiders continued strong play in Maydespite a losing record in the regular season. The Lady Raiders entered the District 8-AAA Tournament as a No. 3 seed and began with a 12-1 win over Franklin County in the first round. 

CHS survived 10-9 against Tullahoma in extra innings and shut out Lawrence County 2-0 to earn a spot in the district title game. Unlike 2017, the Lady Raiders were victorious this time around. The team battled back from a 6-2 deficit in the bottom of the fourth inning to defeat Lawrence County 10-6. 

Momentum stayed on CHS' side at the Region 4-AAA Tournament. The Lady Raiders defeated Smyrna 12-7 then followed with a 4-3 victory over Lincoln County to claim the region 4-AAA crown. 

Despite the district and regional titles, the Lady Raiders fell one game short of another run at the state tournament. In the state sectionals, CHS was defeated 8-5 at home against Walker Valley to bring their season to a close. 

CHS finished 2018 with a record of 21-20. Before the sectional loss, the team had won six straight on the way to the district and regional titles.