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Veteran high school, college coach to take Indy girls helm

By Maurice Patton

After achieving record-setting success during a previous Williamson County stint, Tony Hill is set to return as girls basketball coach at Independence.

Hill will be the fourth different coach at the helm of the Lady Eagles in as many seasons. He succeeds Mary Beth White, who led the program on an interim basis in 2020-21 after Bryan Glasner – who took over for Whitney Baird at the end of the ’18-19 campaign – was unavailable and eventually resigned in February.

“We are very excited to welcome Tony Hill to ‘Indy Nation’,” Independence principal Niki Patton said in a prepared statement. “Coach Hill brings a tremendous amount of basketball experience from both the high school and college levels, and we believe his coaching skillset brings our girls basketball program what it needs to take that next step in becoming a championship caliber team.

“He is passionate about the game of basketball, but more importantly, he is passionate about facilitating success for our girls in both athletics and academics. We are thrilled that Coach Hill will be joining our school community and look forward to the future success of our program.”

Most recently a member of the girls basketball coaching staff at Riverdale, Hill led Centennial to a four-year record of 55-48 from 2013-17, with the Lady Cougars posting their first winning record (18-8) in 2015-16 followed by a 19-win performance a year later. That season saw the program’s first district tournament victory, its first district finals appearance, first region tourney berth, first region finals and first state sectional.

Two months later, Hill resigned to take over the girls program at Portland. He’s since spent a season at Huntland and the last two at Riverdale.

Tony Hill, announced Wednesday as girls basketball coach at Independence, meets with his new team. (Courtesy photo)

“I’ve always had an eye on Independence,” Hill said. “I think that’s a job that’s a diamond in the rough, so to speak. I’ve always felt like you can win there. The pieces are in place – a great administration, a strong feeder program, … a lot of support from the community. I feel that’s a great place to coach girls basketball.

“With the realignment as it is now, you hope you can put yourself in a position to get to region play and make a run in the region tournament. When the opportunity presented itself, I reached out and was very excited to get the opportunity to be there. I’ve known a lot of those coaches for a long time. I can’t wait to work with them.”

Independence will compete for the next two seasons in District 12-AAAA, a five-team league with Columbia Central, Summit, Ravenwood and Nolensville. Presumably, the top four district tourney finishers will advance to regional play.

Hill said he intends to speak with assistants Jack Harlow and Dominique St. Louis and gauge their interest in continuing in those roles.

“We’re going to have a conversation and see where everybody’s head is. Certainly that’s a consideration,” Hill said regarding the return of Harlow, a Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association Hall of Fame inductee after winning 564 games at Franklin County, Columbia Central and Bradley Central. “I had the pleasure of meeting him at the State Farm Classic. He’s a great basketball guy, done a lot of great things.

“I would definitely want to sit down with him and Coach St. Louis and see if they’re interested in coming back.”.  

Prior to his 2013 arrival in Middle Tennessee, Hill had served as girls coach at Milan in West Tennessee, following collegiate head coaching stints at Lambuth University in Jackson – where he was named Mid-South Conference Coach of the Year in 2010 — and at Rose-Hulman in Terre Haute, Ind.

The Rundown: April 14, 2021

Tuesday Results

Coffee Co. 6, Lawrence Co. 2
Columbia Central 10, Shelbyville 6
Eagleville 13, Cascade 3
North Jackson (Ala.) 6, Franklin Co. 2
Tullahoma 15, Lincoln Co. 5
Mt. Pleasant 6, Hampshire 0
Brentwood 3, Page 2
Spring Hill 6, Dickson Co. 0
Fairview 22, East Hickman 1
Franklin 4, Ravenwood 1
Lewis Co. 5, Hickman Co. 4
Summit 4, Centennial 0
Community 10, Giles Co. 9
Nolensville 7, Forrest 5
Perry Co. 12, Frank Hughes 0
Summertown 3, Loretto 2
Murfreesboro Central 7, Marshall Co. 4
Columbia Acad. 2, Middle Tenn. Chr. 1
Christ Presbyterian Acad. 5, Battle Ground Acad. 3
Grace Chr. 19, Zion Chr. 1

Lawrence Co. 6, Lincoln Co. 2
Mt. Pleasant 7, Culleoka 0
Richland 10, Santa Fe 0
Waverly 12, East Hickman 2
Spring Hill 6, Franklin 3
Stewart Co. 8, Hickman Co. 1
Loretto 15, Collinwood 5
Forrest 13, Giles Co. 3
Perry Co. 5, Frank Hughes 1
Community 13, Murfreesboro Central 8
Nolensville 6, Marshall Co. 0
Summertown 11, Wayne Co. 0
Columbia Acad. 13, Battle Ground Acad. 0
Zion Chr. 16, Grace Chr. 6

Wednesday schedule
Coffee Co. at Lawrence Co.*, 4 p.m.
Columbia Central at Shelbyville*, 5 p.m.

Columbia Acad. at Zion Chr.*, 3:30 p.m.
Columbia Central at Tullahoma*, 6 p.m.

Roundup: Baseball, softball, soccer, tennis recaps


Columbia Central 10, Shelbyville 6: The host Lions overcame Shelbyville’s four runs in the top of the first inning with eight in the bottom, keyed by Konnor Bowden’s two-run home run, and put veteran coach Mark Pickle within one victory of his 500th. Nick Butler led the 11-hit offensive attack, going 3-for-4 with a pair of runs and an RBI. Sam Pate added a pair of hits.

Columbia Acad. 2, Middle Tenn. Chr. 1: Bryant Beranek threw a six-hitter, striking out 11, and tripled home the game-tying and eventual winning runs in the fourth inning as CA earned a split of its series following the Bulldogs’ loss Monday in Murfreesboro. The Cougars broke on top with a third-inning run, but Beranek’s drive to deep center scored courtesy runner Drew Butt and Damon Toombs. Kavares Tears, forced out of Monday’s loss with a first-inning ankle injury, started and went 0-for-1 with a pair of walks.

Mt. Pleasant 6, Hampshire 0: The Tigers broke open a scoreless affair with six runs in the bottom of the fifth, with Kobe Dowell doubling home a pair of runs and Gavin Whitehead adding a two-run base hit in the rally. Ryan Clark had two hits for Mt. Pleasant and struck out seven in five innings. Hayden Holt worked two hitless innings to close the contest out. Cameryn Bass, Errette Delk and Payden Seamen each had hits for the Hawks.

Summertown 3, Loretto 2: Drake Blackwood scored the gamewinning run on a Caleb Davis wild pitch in the top of the seventh, after Davis tied the game with a two-run double in the fifth. The Mustangs were unable to do further damage against Eagles starter Cory Francis, who struck out 11 in the complete game victory. Gavin Burleson had two hits for Summertown, as he and Grayson Burleson each drove in a run early.

Spring Hill 6, Dickson Co. 0: Luka Boylan threw five shutout innings, striking out six, and Dawson Hargrove and Jackson Marbet each had three hits to pace the Raider offense.

Summit 4, Centennial 0: Parker Dean went the distance for the Spartans, scattering three hits with a pair of strikeouts in the victory. Cameron Lee went 2-for-3 to lead the way offensively.

Coffee Co. 6, Lawrence Co. 2: The visiting Wildcats fell behind early, but cut into the deficit with a two-run fourth. Luke Nichols and Luke Mattox each had two hits for Lawrence County in the loss.


Zion Chr. 16, Grace Chr. 6: Becca Hazard’s hot tear continued Tuesday, as she went for the cycle and finished 5-for-5 with a couple of homers and seven RBI. Five Lady Eagles had multi-hit efforts, with Isabella Cecil going 4-for-4 and Peyton White 3-for-3. Kyndall Danarovich struck out eight in six innings to earn the victory in the circle.

Mt. Pleasant 7, Culleoka 0: Shelby McNeal had three hits and Addison Holt, Abigail Workman and Eden Wood each added two for the Lady Tigers, with Katie Thomason blanking the hosts on seven hits. McKenzie Stutts had a pair of hits to lead the Lady Warriors.

Spring Hill 6, Franklin 3: Kat Carter struck out 10 over five innings and drove in a pair of runs in a four-run fourth inning. Stephanie Williams also had two hits, with D’Naijah Wade scoring twice in the Lady Raiders’ win.

Summit 4, Dickson Co. 3: Morgan Woodside walked it off, singling with the bases loaded to drive in the winning run. Elena Escobar struck out five in the complete game win, giving up four hits. Dixie Corbin led the Lady Spartan offense with three hits.

Boys soccer

Columbia Central 2, Franklin Co. 0: The Lions stayed unbeaten on the year as Victor Ramirez and Brewer Wall each scored goals – Ramirez putting the visitors on the scoreboard just before intermission and Wall adding an insurance score inside the final minute of the contest.


Columbia Acad. girls 6, Grace Chr. 1: Anna Claire Butt and Hallie Butterfield led the way for the Lady Bulldogs, each picking up singles victories and teaming for a doubles win.

Grace Chr. boys 4, Columbia Acad. 3: Aaron Sullivan, Hayes Lewis and Nathan Thomas turned in singles wins.

Courtesy photos by Buffy Holt, Matthew White

Smith sidelined early as Richland downs Santa Fe

By Maurice Patton

LYNNVILLE – Annette Edwards was considerably more concerned with the start of Richland’s District 10-A matchup Tuesday against visiting Santa Fe than with the finish.

Fielding a two-out popup in the opening inning, Lady Raider senior shortstop Deanna Smith and leftfielder Rachel Rich bumped into each other. Smith held on for the inning-ending catch, but fell to the ground and stayed down for a few moments before being helped off the field with an apparent injury to her right knee.

Smith left the game, missing the offensive fireworks as Richland scored in its first three-at-bats and grabbed a 10-0, five-inning win over the Lady Wildcats.

“That’s going to be bad, if she doesn’t get to play,” Edwards said after her team improved to 8-8 overall (2-0 10-A). “She’s a great leader. She speaks up. Her leadership (is important). Hopefully it’s not as bad as …”

In Smith’s absence, sophomore Maggie White entered the lineup – and for at least one game, the Lady Raiders didn’t miss a beat, scoring in each of their first three at-bats. White was in the middle of everything offensively, drawing two walks along with an RBI single in a five-run third inning and crossing the plate three times.

“Maggie made me look good putting her out there,” Edwards said.

Injury aside, Edwards was more pleased with her team’s performance Tuesday than the day before, when they dropped a 9-3 decision at Collinwood.

“We had five hits and scored three runs to start – and we died after that,” she said. “I told them, we’d better run-rule this team.”

Richland had six hits for the game and took advantage of three Santa Fe errors, all in the third inning. Allie Garner led the way with a pair of doubles, scoring twice and driving in three runs.

Santa Fe (0-7, 0-3), meanwhile, had runners in scoring position in each of the first two innings but couldn’t convert in either case. From there, the Lady Wildcats managed just two baserunners over the final three frames.

“You see ’10-0’, but it wouldn’t have mattered if it was 1-0 if we couldn’t push runs across,” Santa Fe coach Seth Woodard said. “We’re pushing too hard. We’re not being selective enough. We’re hitting pitches they want us to hit instead of what we want to hit. That’s my fault. We’ve not been able to practice. We need to talk a little more about our approach at the plate.

“There’s a big difference in going in confident you’re going to get a hit, and hoping you’re going to get a hit.”

Elise Adkison and Maddie Woodard were responsible for Santa Fe’s two hits off Brooklyn Reed, who struck out five in the shutout victory. Chloé Verlaine, an exchange student from Belgium, reached on a successful bunt attempt to lead off the fifth for the visitors, but was stranded at third base as the game ended.

“We’re still playing with our lineup, trying to find that right combination,” Woodard said. “Hopefully by tournament time we’ll be a little more competitive.

“The only thing I know to do is show up and keep working.”

Richland 10, Santa Fe 0 (5 inn.)

S 000 00 – 0 2 3
R 145 0x – 10 6 3

Maddie Woodard, Rachel Dodson (3) and Lexi McEwen. Brooklyn Reed, Ava Shrader (5) and Gray Teegarden. W: Reed. L: Woodard.

Photos by Ric Beu / SM-Tn Sports

Eagles ‘turn tide’, Mustangs lose pair in rivalry renewal

By Maurice Patton

SUMMERTOWN – Zac Curtis made his Loretto/Summertown baseball rivalry debut Monday night.

The first-year Mustang coach didn’t stick around for the end, though, as he and Loretto first baseman Josh Porter were ejected in the sixth inning of the host Eagles’ eventual 9-2 District 12-A victory.

It’s anticipated that both will likely miss the next two games – including Tuesday’s homefield matchup against Summertown.

“We’re sitting there, the guy (Gavin Burleson) hits a home run, me and Coach (Toby) Dunn are talking about how we’re going to face them (Tuesday) night,” Loretto assistant David Weathers said. “We throw a wild pitch; I thought it was just a wild pitch. We hit (Skylar) Trousdale. As he’s going to first, he’s saying something to Zac. The umpire comes over and throws out first baseman out and our (coach) out. I guess they thought it was intentional.

“The crazy thing was, they’re running down the first-base line barking at Zac. The emotions of the game, the rivalry – it’s one of those things.”

Summertown coach Jason Burleson concurred with Weathers’ assessment of the history between the two teams.

“It gets chippy every game. It’s like this every game,” he said after the Eagles moved to 12-2 (7-0). “You just go and get ready for the next one.”

By the time Gavin Burleson hit his first homer of the season – a solo shot over the batter’s eye, which stands more than 20 feet high in center field – with one out in the sixth, the hosts had the contest well in hand. The Eagles scored two runs in the bottom of the first and two more in the bottom of the third, then added a four-run fifth to chase Loretto starter Connor Clemons.

Meanwhile, Grant Burleson was rolling through the Mustang batting order, striking out 14 over six innings and allowing just four hits.

“We knew they were good,” Weathers said. “Especially 1 through 6 (in the order) – really good. We made some pitches at times and at times when you miss against those guys in the middle of the plate, they’re going to hit it. Grant did a good job. He’s one of the best pitchers probably in Middle Tennessee. We didn’t play our best game. That’s how you get beat 9-2.”

Loretto (9-8, 6-1) had a chance to break on top from the start, as Caleb Davis doubled and Garrett Fisher reached on a bunt single to open the game against Grant Burleson. After Fisher stole second base, Burleson came back with two strikeouts, a walk to load the bases, and a strikeout with the out recorded at home plate to squelch the threat.

“We were lucky to get out of the first,” Grant Burleson said. “I got a little worried, but I worked through it and got out of it. As long as we could score a couple of runs early, I felt like we were going to be alright.”

Drake Blackwood and Gavin Burleson – who tripled prior to his homer — each went 3-for-4 to lead Summertown offensively, with Grayson Burleson and Cory Francis each driving in a pair of runs.

“We’ve got some offense,” Jason Burleson said. “Sometimes it takes a few innings to get going, but we’ve had pretty good offense all year long.”

Despite the decisive win, the coach wasn’t ready to declare – as an Eagles fan did – that “the tide is turning” in the Lawrence County rivalry.

“I don’t know about all that,” Jason Burleson said. “We’ve always won quite a few ballgames, until they had a certain group come through, and they were good. We had a hard time beating them

“I’m not saying the tide’s turning. We knew were in for a dogfight. They’ve got a lot of history the last four or five years. We feel like we’ve got a good ballclub this year, too.”

Summertown 9, Loretto 2

L 000 101 0 – 2 5 0
S 202 041 x – 9 11 1

Connor Clemons, Kade Lay (5) and Clint Seymore. Grant Burleson, Gavin Burleson (8) and Lane Burleson. W: Gr. Burleson. L: Clemons. HR: Summertown – Gv. Burleson.

Photos by Rob Fleming / SM-Tn Sports

Roundup: Baseball and softball recaps


Middle Tennessee Chr. 5, Columbia Acad. 1: Middle Tennessee Christian was able to rough up Kavares Tears early, and held on for a win in Division II-A District 3 play. Tanner Ham had a pair of hits and scored a run for the Bulldogs in the only bright spot offensively in the game. Landon Prentice struck out 10 in 5 1/3 innings, giving up three runs — none earned — on three hits.

Mt. Pleasant 11, Hampshire 2: The Tigers plated six runs in the fourth inning to break open a 1-0 game at Hampshire on Monday. The Tigers got a 2-run single from Gaven Whitehead, RBI singles from Ryan Clark and Codell Gilliam, as well as doubles to score a run from Hayden Holt and Kobe Dowell in the inning. For Hampshire, Jed Page took the loss on the bump, but had an RBI on 2-of-3 hitting at the plate. Blake Morrow and Kennon Anderson each had hits for the Hawks. Whitehead was afforded the win, going five innings and giving up one run on three hits, striking out eight.

Spring Hill 5, Dickson Co. 2: Dawson Hargrove tossed a ‘Maddux’ on Monday, going the distance and throwing just 86 pitches. He struck out 12 and walked none in the win. Jackson Marbet led the Raiders on offense, going 1-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in the fifth to give his team some insurance after Brantly Whitwell scored on a passed ball during Marbet’s at-bat to take the lead.

Summit 7, Centennial 5: Summit jumped out to a big lead, scoring five runs in the second inning, but had to hang on late as the Cougars got four in the fifth and another in the sixth. Brady Hendrix came on in relief following the fifth run and struck out four, including the final out with the bases loaded for Centennial. Alex Runk led the Spartans, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs. Six other Summit hitters added a hit each.

Grace Chr. 14, Zion Chr. 0: Luke Gill tossed a no-hitter on Monday to down Zion Christian in league play. Gill went five innings and struck out nine in the win. Blake Barton had five RBIs for the Lions, including a grand slam in a nine-run third inning.


Summit 4, Ravenwood 2: Morgan Woodside’s third-inning triple scored a pair of runs that would prove to be the difference for the Spartan women on Monday. Claudette Runk added a single later that would score Woodside for some insurance. That three-run third was the biggest blemish in an otherwise solid outing from Raptors’ pitcher Avery Weissmar. She sat down 14 Spartans on strikes, including all but one of the Summit starting nine at least once. Lily Kate Richards got the win in the circle, going seven full and giving up two runs on seven hits and five strikeouts.

Columbia Acad. 1, Ardmore (Ala.) 0: Averi Slaughter was dominant in the circle for the Lady ‘Dawgs. She struck out eight and scattered three hits in the win. A scoreless game saw its only run in the sixth on a Myleah Hardy single to score Karli Quillin. Hardy was 2-for-3 in the game to lead the Bulldogs.

Zion Chr. 12, Culleoka 0: A fourth-inning walk was all that stood between Ashleia Coble and a perfect game Monday. She threw a no-hitter, striking out 12 in a five-inning win over the host Lady Warriors. Becca Hazard continued her hot streak, going 4-for-4, including a home run and three doubles. Coble added three RBIs on two hits as well.