By Thomas Sellers Jr.
The Tipton-Rosemark Academy Rebels’ ranking in the top five of the Division II-A state rankings has been validated by their schedule.
Coming into the week of April 15, Brad Smith’s squad was still in the top of the rankings after taking on the likes of Houston, Dyer County, Pope John Paul II and as of April 15 the Arlington Tigers. The Class 3A power Tigers made the trip to Rebel Field for a mid-April showdown with the Rebels.
TRA used a big second inning to make the difference in a 6-3 victory. The Rebels used the pitching of sophomore standouts “Saint” Patrick Green and Zach Seward to limit Arlington to three runs over seven innings.
“I think Coach Smith has the belief and trust in Patrick and me in big games because of what we did last year,” Seward said after picking up the save.
After the Rebels grabbed Green a 1-0 lead in the first inning, the Tigers deadlocked the contest at 1-1 with a run in the second inning.
That set the table for TRA’s four-run second inning. The Rebels got started when Shea Nolen reached on an error. Green followed with a single, and Jaxon Pennington was hit by a pitch.
With the bases loaded, Tyler Byrd stroked a base hit to regain the advantage for TRA 2-1. Tucker James was next to the plate with the bases still full of Rebels. James was hit by a pitch, and the second run of the inning came across home plate.
Ahead 3-1, senior Will Turner delivered a two-run single to make the tally 5-1 in the second frame.
The Tigers clawed back into the game, making the score 5-3 heading into the sixth inning. TRA got an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth when James and Tucker singled. With the runners in scoring position, Rebel Jacob Dodson executed a sacrifice bunt to score the lead runner to make the tally 6-3.
“Coach Smith likes to throw us out there against the best opponents we can face,” Turner noted. “It’s going to help us later in May is always what he’s telling us. We always trust him, trust the process.”
Smith’s process had allowed the Rebel program to reach the State Tournament several times since 2009. In the past 10 years, TRA has earned three State runner-up finishes, including in 2018.
Turner said in addition to playing some of the best teams in West Tennessee, the Rebels have extra motivation to get back to Murfreesboro.
“I can speak for all of us, we’re striving for (a return back to State),” the senior concluded. “It stung so bad for us last year. All the seniors, we’re ready to get back out there. We have unfinished business. That’s what Coach tells us – we have unfinished business.”