Neither Loudon or Greenback start the regular season in baseball until March 12, but the teams met Monday for a preseason warm-up.
"It's essential," Greenback coach David Grissom said. "You've got to do it. This is the first game that we've played. We've been practicing, but you can't simulate. You try to simulate in practice everything, but there are so many things that we still haven't had an opportunity to cover. There's just not enough daylight hours. You just never can get everything done you want to get done.
"You're better able to see what you have and what you need to work on when you play in a game situation," he said.
The final score was 9-0 in favor of Loudon, and Redskins pitching was the real strength.
"I think our pitching will be our strong point," Loudon coach Bill Thompson said. "We've got four senior pitchers, so we'll be counting on them a lot this season. They've all got a lot of experience too."
All four Loudon senior pitchers took the mound Monday. Ryan McNabb, who signed to play with Roane State Community College, started and gave three scoreless innings. Caleb Holt then took the mound, retiring all six batters he faced on just 20 pitches and striking out five. Jordan Belvin pitched in the sixth and Zach Bevins pitched in an extended seventh inning.
"When it's early like this, the best thing it does is it gives you game situations, it gets you against live pitchers and your pitchers get to go against batters," Thompson said. "It gets old when you practice and you throw to your same hitters all the time. Everybody always wants to play other people."
In stark contrast to Loudon, the pitching depth of Greenback is a question mark.
"Pitching is the name of the game and obviously we don't have enough pitchers," Grissom said. "If you talk to most people around they'll tell you the same thing, they don't have enough pitching. We'd love to have some more pitching, but we don't have as much depth as we would like."
Where the strength for Greenback lies is in the team's experienced roster. The majority of the Cherokees return from last season.
"We're senior dominated," Grissom said. "We've probably got seven seniors who have played a lot of ball, who have played every year. We need to get some more of these young players out, but I think our experience is going to benefit us, the fact that these guys have been around a while and played a lot of baseball games."
Loudon will boast some youth on its roster in addition to eight seniors. Two freshmen, Jesse Smallen and Cody Townson, started Monday. Smallen reached base three times and scored twice, and Townson recorded an RBI.
"We've got a good freshmen class," Thompson said. "We had two that started for us tonight and both of them had good games. We have some freshmen here that they're going to have good futures here at Loudon High School. Then we've got a lot of seniors who have got a lot of experience too. Hopefully we we'll play up to our potential and have a good season."
Greenback will open at 5 p.m. March 12 at home against McMinn Central. It will be the team's first official game under Grissom, who has served as the school's softball coach.
"I think (the transition has) gone pretty smooth," Grissom said. "Even though I've been coaching softball, a lot of the things are exactly the same. Not a whole lot of differences other than male and female; it's ball."
Loudon will open its season at 5 p.m. March 12 at Harriman.