Track athletes conclude regular season

Halie Hawkins runs to a vault during the TriCitiesSports.com Relays on Monday, May 8. Hawkins set a personal record during the event. (Photo contributed by Daniela Martinez)

By Keeli Parkey

The final two meets of the regular season for the Unicoi County High School track and field teams were all about preparation for the postseason.

Last week’s inclement weather led to the postponement of the TriCitiesSports.Com Relays – an invitation-only meet held at Science Hill High School in Johnson City – and the last scheduled regular season meet for UCHS. The meet was originally set for Friday, May 5, but rain and cold temperatures led event coordinators to move the meet to Monday, May 8.

Unfortunately for the UCHS athletes invited to the meet, the makeup date was the day before their important subsectional meet on Tuesday, May 9. This forced the UCHS coaching staff to make tough decisions regarding what events their athletes would participate in.

“The nature of our sport sometimes forces us to make difficult decisions regarding athlete participation in meets,” UCHS head coach Megan Davis said. “It is unfortunate for our athletes that the TriCitiesSports.com Relays had to be moved to the day before our subsectional meet. The subsectional meet is our first step in qualifying for the sectional meet, and ultimately, the state meet. We want our athletes to be as fresh as possible for the subsectional.”

Davis said approximately 75 percent of UCHS track athletes were invited to compete in the TriCitiesSports.Com Relays.

“It says a lot about our athletes that so many were going to be able to participate in this meet,” Davis said. “To be one of the best athletes in your event in the area is no joke.”

Only five UCHS athletes competed on Monday. Among them was Stephanie Wisse. Davis said Wisse was invited to compete in seven events, but in order to have her ready for Tuesday’s subsectional, Wisse, who excels at running events, only participated in the high jump. Davis said Wisse participated in this event as part of her preparation for the state pentathlon meet.

“This was a good meet for her to get prepared to compete at state,” Davis said. “It’s unfortunate that she couldn’t compete in all the events she was invited to. She had won the meet’s most valuable runner award the last two years. I think she would have won that again this year.”

Cameron Higgins participated in the discus throw on Monday. Also, pole vaulters Andrew Bowen, Alex Carter and Halie Hawkins competed at the TriCitiesSports.Com Relays.

“It says a lot about the job coach (Thad) Higgins is doing with our vaulters that they were invited to compete,” Davis said. “It was good for them to compete just before subsectionals.”

Hawkins set a personal best on Monday, turning in a personal best vault of 8 feet, Davis reported.

The UCHS pole vaulters showed their progress during a meet held at Science Hill on Tuesday, May 2.

“Alex cleared a vault for the first time,” Davis said. “This was a big step for her as a beginning vaulter. She was able to clear three different heights.”

Carter reached 6’-6” on May 2.

“That makes her competitive in the postseason,” Davis added.

Hawkins set a personal best of 7’-6”, which she improved on during the TriCitiesSports.Com Relays, on May 2.

“We are very excited about that,” Davis said. “It makes her very competitive at sectional and subsectional levels and it puts us at a point where we can start thinking about state competition.”

Bowen cleared 10’-6” last week.

“Andrew is becoming a more advanced vaulter,” Davis said. “We are excited to see what he can do in the postseason.”

• • •

Blue Devils and Lady Devils competed in the subsectionals in Greeneville on Tuesday, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue. Those athletes who qualify will advance to the sectional meet set for Wednesday, May 17, at Chattanooga Christian School.

“We fully plan to see several of our athletes move on to sectionals,” Davis said.

Softball team advances in district tournament

Third baseman Savannah Lafever fields a ground ball during the Lady Devils victory over Sullivan South in the opening round of the District 1-AA tournament on Monday, May 8. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

Despite a slow start, the Unicoi County High School softball team survived to play another day thanks to a 10-4 victory over Sullivan South in the District-1AA tournament.

Playing in Erwin on Monday, May 8, the Lady Devils (30-10) found themselves trailing 1-0 after the first inning thanks to an RBI by South’s Laura Dade. UCHS then went quietly in the bottom half of the first inning, giving the Lady Rebels hope that they could pull a major upset.

This hope started to dwindle in the bottom half of the second inning when Lady Devil Keelie Hall hit an RBI-double scoring Neelee Griffith from second base. UCHS added another run in the inning when pitcher Halie Padgett helped her own cause with an RBI groundout that scored courtesy runner Greta Raby. The Lady Devils held a 2-1 run after two innings.

Griffith knocked in the first of 4 RBIs in the home half of the third inning, smacking a line drive to left field that scored Halie Hawkins. Griffith later scored, thanks to Hall’s second RBI of the day for a 4-1 UCHS lead.

The Lady Devils took total control of the game in the bottom of the fifth. They took a 5-1 lead on an RBI-single by Tanya Chavez that scored Hawkins. Griffith then tallied RBIs two, three and four on an inside-the-park home run for an 8-1 lead.

UCHS then added two more runs off the bat of Ashley Edwards, who had returned to the lineup following a leg injury. Edwards knocked an RBI-double to left field to score Jaime Edwards and Kate Hollenbeck, giving UCHS a 10-1 lead.

South scored three runs in the top of the seventh and final inning, but that was it as UCHS won the game 10-4 and advanced in the tournament.

Padgett earned the win in the circle, throwing just over 5 innings. Padgett threw 6 strikeouts, while giving up 1 hit and 1 earned run. Hannah Bowen threw just over 1 inning in relief.

Griffith was 3-for-4 at the plate with the inside-the-park home run and 4 RBIs. Hall was 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs. Bowen was 2-for-3. Chavez (1 RBI), Rylee Stiltner, Allee Griffith (2 RBIs) and Hawkins had 1 hit each in the victory.

• • •

The Lady Devils were scheduled to face Elizabethton on Tuesday, May 9, in the district semifinals following The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

With a win over the Lady Cyclones, UCHS advanced to the championship round, which is set for Thursday, May 11, at 5:30 p.m. at Lady Devil Diamond. A win in this game will give the Lady Devils the District 1-AA crown. If they lose this game, they will play an if necessary game immediately after.

Soccer team finishes second in conference

Blue Devil Jose Ortiz, right, chases down possession of the ball during his team’s 2-2 draw with Elizabethton. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

In just its second year in existence, the Unicoi County High School men’s soccer program has shown itself to be one of the top teams in the Three Rivers Conference.

With a victory and a draw last week, the Blue Devils (9-5-1) won second place in the conference race and earned a first round bye as the second seed in this week’s District 1-A/AA tournament.

“We are thrilled with this seed,” head coach Justin Ciralsky said. “It is great recognition for the team and all their hard work. We are hoping to use this momentum to carry us through the district tournament and regional tournament.”

The Blue Devils played Elizabethton in the district semifinals on Tuesday, May 9, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue. A loss ended the Blue Devils’ season; a victory qualified them for the district championship scheduled for Thursday, May 11.

• • •

UCHS opened last week with an upset of Sullivan South – the conference’s top team. Playing in Kingsport, the Blue Devils got scores from Juan Ponce and Sam Murillo to earn the 2-1 victory.

“Our two goals were clutch,” Ciralsky said. “Jose worked hard throughout the whole game and the goalie was saving all of his shots. But, late in the game Jose was fouled in the box, and it allowed Sam Murillo to score a penalty kick for the go-ahead goal.”

The victory over the Rebels was a total team effort, the head coach said.

“Our whole team played well,” Ciralsky said. “Juan started out the scoring for us, and he played a phenomenal game. Also, Chris Andrade played very well in the midfield.”

• • •

Despite taking a 1-0 lead in the first half, the Blue Devils couldn’t hold off Elizabethton to get a win; however, UCHS held on to get a 2-2 draw.

“Our team as a whole didn’t play very well,” Ciralsky said, “but, Christian Leon and Sam Murillo played well. Sam tied the game with about 20 minutes left and Christian made several great defensive stops to keep us in the game.”

Ortiz scored the other goal for UCHS.

The Blue Devils failed to capitalize on six chances inside the box.

“We really needed to put those in the back of the net,” Ciralsky said. “We learned the importance of doing the small things well.”

During halftime of the Elizabethton game, the senior members of the team were honored on the field.

“The seniors this year are irreplaceable,” Ciralsky said. “Their passion and love for this game is what prompted our team to start. I have known these boys for years and I will miss their leadership, their passion and their love for this game. The seniors have helped to build this program to what it is today, and our hope is to carry on their legacy by developing a winning program in the years to come. They have been a great blessing to me as a coach, and nothing would make me happier than to lead them into the state tournament.”

The Blue Devil seniors are  RJ Phillips, Carlos Delgado, Christian Leon, Samuel Murillo, Jose Ortiz, Derek Andrade, Donnie Metcalf, Tyler Whitson and Gerardo Batrez.

District loss sends baseball team to losers’ bracket

By Keeli Parkey

In order to win another District 1-AA championship the Blue Devils will have to do what they did last season – battle their way out of the loser’s bracket.

The Unicoi County High School baseball team (18-14) went into the tournament as the top seed, but found themselves on the losing end of a 7-0 contest against the fourth-seeded Sullivan South Rebels on Monday, May 8, at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport.

“Having only three hits definitely didn’t give us a chance,” head coach Chad Gillis told The Erwin Record. “South’s pitcher, Trey Fields, deserves a lot of credit though. He had a dominating day on the mound. There were zero adjustments made at the plate for seven innings, it’s hard to win games against a great pitcher without making adjustments.”

Having won the district coming out of the loser’s bracket last season gives UCHS the experience they need to battle for another crown.

“We are not losing confidence,” Gillis said. “We were in the exact same position last year and won the whole thing. We have top guys going on the mound and we will figure some things out at the plate. We are looking forward to getting this loss behind us and earning a regional bid this week.”

Nick Fender, Shaddon Peavyhouse and Cameron Spires had 1 hit each for UCHS in Monday’s loss. Caleb Wilson took the loss on the mound.

The Blue Devils will play their next district game on Wednesday, May 10, at 7:30 p.m. Their opponent was decided by games played on Tuesday, May 9, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

A loss on Wednesday will end the season for UCHS. A win will set up a game at 5 p.m. on Thursday. In order to qualify for the region tournament and keep their season alive, the Blue Devils must win on Wednesday and win on Thursday. Winning both those games will put UCHS in the 7:30 p.m. championship game on Thursday. Because they came out of the loser’s bracket, they will have to win the 7:30 p.m. Thursday game and the if necessary 6 p.m. game on Friday, May 12, to win the district.

• • •

The Blue Devils wrapped up the regular season last week with wins over Pigeon Forge and David Crockett and a loss to Sullivan North in the conference finale.

UCHS went on the road and defeated Pigeon Forge 6-4 on Monday, May 1.

“This was a statement game for us,” Gillis said. “We needed to win this game to prove we can play with and be a great team. Caleb Wilson had a fantastic game. He found his groove and pitched like he is capable of. Dylan Putman and Nick Fender had big nights at the plate having five of our six RBIs between the two. Our defense stepped up and made plays the entire game and we executed our offense perfectly.”

Wilson earned the win on the mound for UCHS. Fender went 3-for-4 with an RBI. Putman was 2-for-3, including a home run, and 4 RBIs.

• • •

On Tuesday, May 2, Sullivan North bested the Blue Devils 6-5 in their final conference game of the 2017 season.

“This was a tough loss coming after a big win the previous day,” Gillis said. “We didn’t come to the field mentally prepared to play.  We hit the ball well, but made enough mistakes in the field to keep them in it. It was just their day.”

Troy Podvin was 2-for-4 at the plate, including a home run. Wilson was 3-for-3 with a home run. Laughren was 3-for-4.

• • •

The Blue Devils ended the regular season with a 5-2 victory over David Crockett on Wednesday, May 3.

“We ended the regular season with a win and it sends us into the tournament on a high note,” Gillis said. “The kids responded well with a win and focus was there. We executed some offensive plays we haven’t put in a game yet and they worked perfectly. This was a good win for us and another great game out of Clay Simpson. This was his first start in a week and a half.  He picked up right where he left off.”

Simpson gave up 2 hits, 2 runs and tossed 5 strikeouts in the win. He also went 1-for-3 at the plate.

Owen Nicholson was 2-for-4 at the plate. Fender went 1-for-2 and Podvin went 4-for-4.

Devils hold off Warriors to win title

Blue Devil first baseman Matthew Hatcher tags a Happy Valley Warrior. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Blue Devil first baseman Matthew Hatcher tags a Happy Valley Warrior. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

The 2017 Unicoi County High School baseball team continued the program’s tradition of success by winning the Three Rivers Conference regular season title last week.

Needing to defeat either Happy Valley on Friday, April 28, or Sullivan North on Tuesday, May 2, to secure the crown, the Blue Devils (16-12, 9-2) managed to hold off a late rally by Happy Valley to earn a 3-1 win and the regular season championship last week.

“Beating Happy Valley sealed the top seed for us in the district tournament,” Blue Devil head coach Chad Gillis said. “This was a tough game because we hadn’t played in a week. I felt like we were a little rusty and the guys were trying to get comfortable again. We made some mistakes trying to be too aggressive on the bases, but the kids were thinking and that’s a good thing. Overall, I’m pleased with the outcome.”

The Blue Devils took a 1-0 lead over the Warriors on Friday when Shaddon Peavyhouse’s hit scored Nick Fender during the top half of the first inning. They scored their last two runs of the game during the fourth inning when Troy Podvin and Cameron Spires scored.

Trailing in the bottom half of the seventh and final inning, the Warriors loaded the bases, but Peavyhouse, who was brought on in relief for Dylan Putman, ended the game with a strikeout to secure the win for UCHS.

Putman earned the win on the mound for the Blue Devils.

“It was good to see Putman and Peavyhouse get good work in,” Gillis said.

Podvin went 2-for-3 at the plate.

The conference championship gives the Blue Devils the number-one seed in this week’s District 1-AA tournament.

“I am excited for my guys in winning a conference championship,” Gillis said. “This was a goal they all had set in February and they accomplished that goal. I am looking forward to the tournament and, hopefully, the weeks beyond.”

UCHS will open the tournament, which will be played at Dobyns-Bennett in Kingsport, on Saturday, May 6. The time of their opening game and opponent were yet to be determined at the press deadline for this issue.

District tournament play will continue into next week.

• • •

The Blue Devils traveled to Pigeon Forge for a game on Monday, May 1, and to Sullivan North on Tuesday, May 2, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

They are scheduled to end the regular season on Wednesday, May 3, with a game at David Crockett beginning at 6 p.m.

Softball team wins conference crown

Halie Padgett swings at a pitch during the Lady Devils’ loss to Christian Academy of Knoxville in the semifinals of the Tiny Day/Red Edmonds Invitational. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Halie Padgett swings at a pitch during the Lady Devils’ loss to Christian Academy of Knoxville in the semifinals of the Tiny Day/Red Edmonds Invitational. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

The Unicoi County High School softball team closed out the Three Rivers Conference portion of their schedule with a win and a regular season championship last week.

Playing at Sullivan South on Wednesday, April 26, the Lady Devils (29-10, 11-1) held off a late rally by the Lady Rebels to earn a 7-3 win and another conference crown.

South challenged the Lady Devils last week, taking a 1-0 lead in the home half of the second inning.

UCHS went scoreless in the third, but took control of the game in the fourth inning, scoring three runs. Halie Padgett reached third base on a one-out triple. Allee Griffith later reached on an error which scored Greta Raby, who was brought into the game to run for Padgett.

Halie Hawkins then hit an RBI-double, scoring Griffith. Hawkins later crossed home plate on an RBI-single by Rylee Stiltner. The Lady Devils held a 3-1 lead after four innings.

Both teams were held scoreless in the fifth inning. UCHS broke the game open in the top of the sixth inning, scoring four runs. Neelee Griffith’s single scored her sister, Allee, and Stiltner for the first two runs of the innings. Keelie Hall’s single scored Tanya Chavez from second base, then N. Griffith scored from third base on a passed ball for a 7-1 UCHS lead.

South added two runs in the home half of the sixth inning, but never threatened in the seventh as UCHS earned the win and the conference title.

Stiltner was 4-for-4 with an RBI in the win. Padgett was 2-for-4 at the plate and threw 5 strikeouts for the Lady Devils. Chavez, Savannah Lafever, N. Griffith (2 RBIs), Hall (1 RBI), A. Griffith (1 RBI), Hannah Bowen and Hawkins (1 RBI) had one hit each.

The conference title has the Lady Devils going into the District 1-AA tournament, which will be played at Lady Devil Diamond in Erwin, as the top seed. They will play on Friday, May 5, at 5:30 p.m. Their opponent had not been determined as of The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

District play continues until Wednesday, May 10.

***

The Lady Devils ended last week playing in the annual Tiny Day/Red Edmonds Invitational Softball Tournament played in Greene County.

After last week’s rainy weather forced the cancellation of games on Thursday, April 27, the Lady Devils were able to play two games on Friday, April 28. First, UCHS defeated Cocke County 5-0 and then defeated Greeneville 10-5.

Against Cocke County, Padgett (3 Ks) and A. Griffith (2 Ks) threw three innings each for the win. Stiltner went 2-for-3 (1 RBI), Hall went 2-for-2 (2 RBIs), Hawkins was 2-for-3 and Chavez had 2 RBIs.

Against Greeneville, Bowen threw four innings for the win. Hawkins, Lafever and Bowen had 2 RBIs each. Hall and Padgett both had an RBI.

Pool play results set up a semifinal matchup between the Lady Devils and Christian Academy of Knoxville (CAK) – the team that has eliminated UCHS from postseason play in the substate round the last two seasons – on Sunday, April 30.

UCHS got off to a solid start, scoring one run in the top of the first inning when Stiltner scored on an error.

The third and fourth innings belonged to CAK. The Lady Warriors scored two runs in each inning to take control of the game. The Lady Devils couldn’t mount a comeback as CAK held on for a 4-1 victory.

CAK held UCHS to only four hits on Sunday. Stiltner was 2-for-2 and scored the Lady Devils’ only run. Chavez and N. Griffith had one hit each.

Wisse signs with Milligan, qualifies for state pentathlon

Lady Devil senior Stephanie Wisse, seated center, signed with Milligan College last week. Pictured with Wisse are head UCHS track coach Megan Davis, assistant UCHS coach Thad Higgins, seated, and Milligan coach Jeremy Clonce. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Lady Devil senior Stephanie Wisse, seated center, signed with Milligan College last week. Pictured with Wisse are head UCHS track coach Megan Davis, assistant UCHS coach Thad Higgins, seated, and Milligan coach Jeremy Clonce. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

A Unicoi County High School track and field athlete had a very good week last week.

On Monday, April 24, Lady Devil Stephanie Wisse qualified for the state pentathlon meet thanks to her second-place performance at a meet held in Greeneville. Wisse followed this accomplishment with another a few days later when she officially became a member of the Milligan College track and field program with a signing ceremony on Thursday, April 27.

“I feel like I am part of the family when it comes to the Milligan track team, and I believe that all that I’m known for will help the program,” Wisse told The Erwin Record. “I will be a multi-event athlete for the Milligan Buffs.”

For Wisse, deciding where she would compete after high school came down to two schools – Milligan and East Tennessee State University.

“I had originally been verbally committed to ETSU, but when I went on my campus visit at Milligan I just knew it was the right place for me,” Wisse said. “The most that stood out to me about Milligan was the positive atmosphere and I felt very accepted from everyone.”

Wisse’s decision was met with approval by her high school coach.

“I am glad to see Stephanie sign with Milligan,” UCHS head coach Megan Davis said. “We have talked for three years about her competing at the collegiate level. For her to actually commit somewhere adds legitimacy to all the work she has put it and it adds legitimacy to our track program. It’s a good move for her, for us and for Milligan.”

Davis said she believes Wisse will be a welcome addition to the Lady Buffs program.

“Stephanie brings a raw talent to Milligan,” Davis said. “Yes, she brings speed to their program, but she also brings her ability to compete in many events. We have had her compete in 10 different events this season. She is not your typical track athlete because she can do so many things. She’s the whole package.”

Milligan coach Jeremy Clonce said Wisse is a “great fit” for the Lady Buffs.

“The biggest thing that appeals to me about Stephanie is her work ethic,” he said. “She is such a hard worker and is also a good student. We watched her last year and pursued her this year. I think she is going to be a great fit for our program.”

Clonce said that because Wisse “does so many things so well” what events she will compete in during her career at Milligan have yet to be determined.

“We will sit down and figure out what direction we will go in,” he added.

Wisse is the second UCHS senior to commit to Milligan’s track program. Blue Devil Cameron Higgins committed to Milligan in December as a thrower.

“Cameron is such a great kid, too,” Clonce said. “To have him and Stephanie come to us from Unicoi is unbelievable. Coach Davis and coach (Thad) Higgins have done a wonderful job here. We love to have local student athletes become part of our program.”

• • •

Wisse and the UCHS track athletes competed in a meet at Science Hill on Tuesday, May 2, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline.

Wisse has been invited to compete in the TriCitiesSports.com Relays on Friday, May 5, at Science Hill.

Qualifying UCHS athletes will also compete at the subsectional meet on May 9 in Greeneville and the sectional meet on May 17 at Chattanooga Christian School.

Soccer team ends regular season this week

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School men’s soccer team has their sights set on the postseason, but they have some business to take care of first.

That business, according to head coach Justin Ciralsky, is finishing the regular season strong – and the Blue Devils (8-5, 6-2) took a step toward that goal last week by defeating Hampton, 9-2, on Tuesday, April 25, in Erwin.

“All the players played well,” Ciralsky said of the win over the Bulldogs. “It was a great all around game for all of the team.”

Six Blue Devils scored in the victory. Daniel Meza, Jose Ortiz and Christian Leon scored two goals each. Leroy Valdez, Sam Murillo and Donnie Metcalf scored one goal each.

“They are continuing to learn to play hard all game,” Ciralsky said. “Every let down could hurt us as we move forward and finish the season. They are starting to see the importance of the little things we work on day in and day out.”

The Blue Devils were scheduled to host Sullivan South in conference play on Tuesday, May 2, after The Erwin Record’s print deadline for this issue.

They will close out the regular season on Thursday, May 4, against Elizabethton in Erwin. The match is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. The Blue Devils will also honor the senior members of their team on Thursday.

“We have two big conference matches this week,” Ciralsky said. “Our outlook is to finish the season with two wins and end up being seeded second in conference behind south. Then our goal is to win conference and make it to the regional final. We would love to make it to the state tournament, and we are hoping to play well over the next couple weeks in order to give our team that opportunity.”

Track athletes win conference titles

By Keeli Parkey

Blue Devil John Campbell, center, races to a second-place finish in the 800-meter. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Blue Devil John Campbell, center, races to a second-place finish in the 800-meter. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Which female runner would win the Three Rivers Conference’s top award came down to a final race.

During the conference meet, held on Thursday, April 20, at Sullivan North High School, both Unicoi County’s Stephanie Wisse and Elizabethton’s Heather Feuchtenberger entered the 200-meter dash having won three earlier running events. Wisse had won the 100-meter dash, 100-meter hurdles and 300-meter hurdles. Feuchtenberger had won the 400-, 800- and 1600-meter races.

“Stephanie doesn’t usually compete in four running events in one meet,” UCHS head track coach Megan Davis told The Erwin Record. “We wanted her to compete for the Most Valuable Runner award, so she ran in those events. We knew Elizabethton’s runner would be competing for the award against her.”

Wisse and Feuchtenberger raced head-to-head in one of the 200-meter heats on Thursday, with Wisse besting the Lady Cyclone by less than a second to win her fourth race of the day and the award. Wisse was also named the conference’s Most Valuable Runner during the 2016 season.

“This was a very good meet for Stephanie,” Davis said. “She ran personal bests in the 100-meter hurdles and 100-meter dash. She also ran well in the 300-meter hurdles. The award is another notch in her belt. She is ready to compete at the state level.”

Other notable finishes for UCHS included first-place finishes by Andrew Bowen and Halie Hawkins in the pole vault competition. Because the pole vault event was not held during the conference meet, this competition was based on results from previously held sanctioned meets.

The Lady Devils 4×800-meter relay team also took first place at the meet. The team consists of Megan Todd, Kaitlyn Tilson, Jillian Taylor and Cheyenne Wilson.

Todd took second place in the 2-mile run and third in both the 800-meter and 1-mile races.

“Megan had a lot of running to do during the conference meet,” Davis said. “She performed well for us.”

Blue Devil John Campbell took second place in the 800-meter, narrowly losing to Sullivan South’s Zach Thompson. Thompson was named the Most Valuable Runner in the boys competition. Campbell also won third place in the 1-mile.

“John ran well during the meet,” Davis said.

Blue Devil Cameron Higgins won second place in the discus and third in the shot put. His shot put performance set a personal best for him, Davis said.

Tilson took fourth in the 800-meter. Taylor won fifth place in the 400-meter run.

“Both ran well and took on their roles for the team to help us get points for the team competition,” Davis said.

With the regular season coming to an end, Davis also said she is pleased with how the Blue Devils and Lady Devils are performing.

“We are where we need to be going into sectionals,” she added. “Our kids are peaking when they need to. They are feeling the success of their hard work. They are staying focused and are ready to compete. I am very happy where we are right now.”

• • •

The last regular season meet for UCHS is set for Tuesday, May 2, at Science Hill.

Qualifying athletes will also compete at the subsectional meet on May 9 in Greeneville and the sectional meet on May 17 at Chattanooga Christian School.

Baseball team takes over top spot in conference

Pitcher Caleb Wilson tosses the ball to first base for an out against Sullivan East. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Pitcher Caleb Wilson tosses the ball to first base for an out against Sullivan East. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School baseball team currently sits atop the Three Rivers Conference thanks to a victory last week.

The Blue Devils (15-12, 8-2) defeated the Sullivan East Patriots 5-1 on Tuesday, April 18, in Erwin.

“This was a huge game for us,” head coach Chad Gillis said. “Going into the game we knew the winner would take first place in the conference.”

It was the Blue Devil defense that stepped up to get win.

“We play really well defensively,” Gillis said. “Shaddon (Peavyhouse) dominated on the mound.”

Peavyhouse allowed only 1 run and struck out 7 batters in almost 4 innings of work. He also went 2-for-4 at the plate, including the go-ahead home run, with 2 RBIs.

Nick Fender went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs in the win.

• • •

The Blue Devils lost all of their games in the Tribe Classic played last week. With rain playing havoc with the tournament schedule, UCHS was able to get in three games during the tournament.

On Thursday, April 20, the Blue Devils fell to Dobyns-Bennett, the host team, 12-2.

Peavyhouse was 2-for-3 at the plate and pitcher Gavin Casey took the loss for UCHS.

Dylan Putman took to the mound for the Blue Devils later on Thursday against Greeneville. Despite losing 3-1, Gillis said Putman performed well for his team.

“Dylan threw a great game,” Gillis added. “This was his first start in three weeks. He really kept their hitters off balance and competed for seven innings.”

UCHS ended the Tribe Classic with a 13-7 loss to Tennessee High on Friday, April 21.

“This was a tough game for us,” Gillis said. “We couldn’t get in a rhythm on the mound or really even at the plate. We turned it up in the seventh, but was a little too late. We still have to learn how to compete everyday.”

Wilson took the loss for the Blue Devils.

Fender and Putman were both 3-for-4 with 1 home run in the game. Troy Podvin was 2-for-4 with a home run.

• • •

The Blue Devils were scheduled to face conference foe Happy Valley on Tuesday, April 25, in Carter County after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

They are also scheduled to travel to Knox Central on Thursday, April 27, for a game beginning at 6 p.m.

Their final Three Rivers Conference game of the season is set for Tuesday, May 2, at Sullivan North at 6 p.m. Their final regular season game is set for Wednesday, May 3, at 6 p.m. at David Crockett.

Soccer team bests University High

Leroy Valdez takes a shot on goal during a recent UCHS soccer game. (Erwin Record File Photo)

Leroy Valdez takes a shot on goal during a recent UCHS soccer game. (Erwin Record File Photo)

By Keeli Parkey

A second half goal by Jose Ortiz and a save by RJ Phillips late in the game lifted the Unicoi County High School men’s soccer team over University High last week.

The Blue Devils (7-5) defeated the Jr. Bucs 1-0 in Erwin on Tuesday, April 18.

“RJ made an incredible save at the end of the game to keep a clean sheet and help us win the game,” UCHS head coach Justin Ciralsky said. “He didn’t have a lot to do during the game because we maintained possession of the ball, but that save at the end of the game was huge. It was also a great confidence booster for him going into the end of the season.”

The Blue Devils’ three midfielders – Samuel Murillo, Chris Andrade and Daniel Meza – also performed well in the win.

“They played well,” Ciralsky said. “Daniel and Sam helped offensively, and Chris helped us out defensively.”

The usually effective UCHS offense was held in check last week by the defensive scheme of the Jr. Bucs.

“UH packed in the defense like the other teams have done playing against us, so we continue to work on drawing the defense out so that we can get behind their defense and score goals,” Ciralsky said. “So, we need to continue working on our passing and the runs we are making.”

• • •

The Blue Devils were scheduled to host Hampton on Tuesday, April 25, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

Their next match is set for Tuesday, May 2, at Sullivan South at 5:30 p.m. They are also scheduled to host Elizabethton on Thursday, May 4, at 6 p.m.

Ladies move to 10-1 in league play

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School softball team stayed in control in the race for a the Three Rivers Conference crown with three wins last week.

The Lady Devils (26-9, 10-1) traveled to Johnson County on Friday, April 21, and returned to Erwin with a 3-0 victory over the Lady Longhorns.

Halie Padget had a solid game for UCHS in Mountain City. The junior pitcher threw 7 innings, allowed only 1 hit and struck out 8 batters. Padgett also had 2 hits in the win.

Senior Hannah Bowen was 2-for-3 in the game with 1 RBI. Neelee Griffith was 1-for-3 with 1 RBI. Savannah Lafever knocked in the other run for the Lady Devils. Tanya Chavez also had 1 hit in the game.

• • •

The Lady Devils wouldn’t let Happy Valley ruin their senior night festivities at Lady Devil Diamond on Thursday, April 20.

UCHS got on the scoreboard in the home half of the first inning when Chavez hit a solo home run, giving her team a 1-0 lead. The Lady Devils added another run the next inning on an RBI-groundout by Padgett that scored Hope Bailey.

Trailing 2-0, the Lady Warriors made the game interesting during the top half of their third inning. Taking advantage of a 2-out error by UCHS, Happy Valley scored 2 runs to tie the game.

The Lady Devils responded in their half of the fourth inning. Keelie Hall reached on a walk to start the inning. With Lafever at the plate, Bailey, who was brought in as a courtesy runner for Hall, stole second. Bailey then moved to third on a groundout by Lafever. Bailey later scored on an RBI by Padgett, putting UCHS in the lead for good.

Bowen then helped her own cause with a 2-run home run.

UCHS won the game 5-2.

Chavez was 3-for-3 at the plate with 1 home run and 1 RBI. Bowen was 1-for-3 with 1 home run and 2 RBIs. Padgett had 2 RBIs. Hall was 2-for-2 and Rylee Stiltner was 2-for-3.

Bowen threw 7 innings, allowed 4 hits and struck out 1 batter in the win.

Following the game, the Lady Devils recognized seniors Faith Bailey, Hannah Bowen, Ashley Edwards, Neelee Griffith, Keelie Hall and Savannah Lafever.

• • •

The Lady Devils earned an easy 12-2 win over Sullivan North on Tuesday, April 18, in Erwin.

UCHS scored 4 runs in the first inning and 8 in the second to get the victory.

They had 14 hits, including 4 home runs – by Chavez, N. Griffith, Padgett and Halie Hawkins – in the game. Stiltner had 3 hits and 2 RBIs. Lafever had 2 hits and 3 RBIs. N. Griffith had 2 hits and 2 RBIs. Hawkins had 2 hits and 1 RBI.

Allee Griffith (3 innings, 3 strikeouts) and Bailey (2 innings, 4 strikeouts) combined to get the win in five innings.

• • •

The Lady Devils are scheduled to travel to Sullivan South for their conference finale on Wednesday, April 26, at 4 p.m. A victory over South will secure a conference championship for Lingerfelt’s team.

The team will end the week in the Tiny Day Tournament being played in Greeneville. UCHS will open tournament pool play on Thursday, April 27, at 5:15 p.m. against Cherokee, then play North Greene at 6:30 p.m. later that evening. On Friday, April 28, the Lady Devils will play Cocke County at 5:15 p.m. and Greeneville at 6:30 p.m. Bracket play will take place during the weekend.

The District 1-AA tournament will be played at Lady Devil Diamond in Erwin beginning next week. Game dates and times had not been announced as of The Erwin Record’s press deadline.

Lady Devils move into top spot, Lingerfelt gets 500th win

Center fielder Tanya Chavez returns the ball to the infield at Happy Valley. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Center fielder Tanya Chavez returns the ball to the infield at Happy Valley. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School softball team has a solid hold on first place in the Three Rivers Conference after recent victories over Elizabethton, Happy Valley and Sullivan East.

On Monday, April 17, the Lady Devils (23-9, 7-1), wasted no time taking control of their game at Sullivan East against the Lady Patriots. In the top of the first inning, UCHS took advantage of an error by the Lady Patriots, scoring Tanya Chavez and Neelee Griffith for a 2-0 lead.

The Lady Devils added another run in the top of the third on an RBI-flyout by Chavez that scored Allee Griffith; and another in the top of the fourth on an RBI-single by Hannah Bowen that scored Hope Bailey.

East rallied to score two runs in the bottom of the sixth inning for a score of 4-2; however, the Lady Devils responded in the top half of the seventh on an RBI-single by Keelie Hall that scored Chavez.

Halie Padgett threw seven innings for UCHS with 6 strikeouts and 2 earned runs.

“We played well against Sullivan East,” head coach Grady Lingerfelt told The Erwin Record. “Halie pitched well. Overall, it was a good team effort. We hit the ball well. It’s always tough to go on the road and play.”

The Lady Devils had 11 hits in the game, including 2 each by Chavez (1 RBI), Hall (1 RBI) and Bowen (1 RBI).

•••

The team came from one run down to get a key Three Rivers Conference win last week.

Playing on Thursday, April 13, at Elizabethton against the only conference opponent to defeat them this season, the Lady Devils scored two runs in the fourth inning to take control of the game, earn the victory and move into first place in the race for a conference championship.

“Coming back from South Carolina, the girls were ready to play against Elizabethton,” Lingerfelt said. “

Elizabethton came-from-behind to defeat UCHS, 5-3, during the first week of the season. Johnson County defeated the Lady Cyclones earlier this month, giving Elizabethton a 5-2 record in the league.

The Lady Cyclones had momentum going their way after the first inning of last week’s game. In the home half of the first, Elizabethton’s Maci West singled to center off Halie Padgett to score Macie Herrmann from third base. The Lady Cyclones held a 1-0 lead until the top of the fourth inning.

Neelee Griffith hit a one-out single, then moved to second on a stolen base. With two outs, Savannah Lafever knocked the ball over left field, giving UCHS a 2-1 lead.

“Savannah has helped us a lot lately,” Lingerfelt said. “Her homerun was huge for us – it changed the tide of the game for us.”

The Lady Devil defense held the Lady Cyclones in check following Elizabethton’s one-run first inning.

“We made some good plays,” Lingerfelt said. “They got a hit or two here or there, but Halie kept them off stride and kept them from hitting the ball as hard as they usually do.”

UCHS added two more runs in the top half of the seventh inning. Lady Devil Grace Ann Clark went to first base after being hit by a pitch. Halie Hawkins then singled, moving Hope Bailey, who was brought in to run for Clark, to second base. Bailey was picked off, then Rylee Stiltner singled to right field, moving Hawkins to second.

With Chavez at bat, Hawkins stole third base and Stiltner stole second. Chavez then hit a ground-out RBI, scoring Hawkins and moving Stiltner to third. Stiltner later scored on an error for the final UCHS run of the game.

Elizabethton didn’t threaten to score in the bottom of the seventh and the Lady Devils won the game 4-1.

Padgett got the win for UCHS, throwing 7 innings with 6 strikeouts.

Lafever was 2-for-2 with 1 home run and 2 RBIs. Stiltner, Padgett and Hawkins had 2 hits each. Chavez had the other RBI for UCHS.

•••

The Lady Devils followed the victory over Elizabethton with a 12-0 win over Happy Valley in Carter County on Friday, April 14. Hannah Bowen and Allee Griffith threw three and two shutout innings, respectively, to lead UCHS to the win. Both Lady Devil pitchers also had 3 strikeouts in the game.

UCHS had 18 hits in the game, including 3 each by Lafever (2 RBIs), Stiltner, N. Griffith (3 RBIs) and Hawkins.

“The girls played pretty well,” Lingerfelt said. “It was a good win for us.”

•••

A trip to South Carolina resulted in a 2-3 record in the Azalea Tournament for UCHS last week.

On Monday, April 10, the Lady Devils dropped both games, losing 3-0 to Wando, 7-3 to Nation ord and 5-4 to May River.

“We didn’t play well on Monday,” Lingerfelt said. “All the teams there were pretty good, but there wasn’t a team we couldn’t beat.”

UCHS bounced back with two solid performances – and victories – the next day. The Lady Devils defeated May River 5-3 and Northwood Academy 6-0.

“By winning the last two games that got us up to play Elizabethton,” Lingerfelt said.

The win over May River was especially significant – it was Lingerfelt’s 500th victory as head coach of the Lady Devil softball program.

“A lot of kids have contributed to that,” Lingerfelt said. “This is my 13th season as head coach. I have had a lot of talented players and very good assistant coaches It’s a nice milestone.”

•••

The Lady Devils were scheduled to host Sullivan North on Tuesday, April 18, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline.

They are scheduled to host Happy Valley on Thursday, April 20, at 5 p.m. and travel to Johnson County on Friday, April 21, for a game at 5 p.m. The Lady Devils will also go on the road to Sullivan South on Wednesday, April 26, at 4 p.m.

Tennis team wins first match of season

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School boys tennis program earned their first team victory of the season last week.

Playing at Sullivan Central on Tuesday, April 11, the Blue Devils (1-3) came ready to play, according to head coach Karla Keesecker.

“The boys played a great match against Sullivan Central,” Keesecker told The Erwin Record. “They played aggressively and fought for every match. I believe having close matches against Elizabethton the day before really helped their confidence.”

Blue Devils Trent Treadway (8-3), Chase Erwin (8-6), Daniel Campbell (8-4) and Ben Hensley (8-1) all won their singles matches against the Cougars.

The UCHS doubles teams of Trey Hatcher and Noah Starnes and Hensley and Aaron Manzanares won their contests by an 8-5 score to give UCHS the six wins needed to win the match.

Elizabethton bested the Blue Devils on Monday, April 10, by a 7-2 match score; but despite the loss, Keesecker said her players took something important away from the match.

“The boys were evenly matched and it gave them confidence going into the match against Sullivan Central,” she added.

Hensley was the only Blue Devil to win a singles match against the Cyclones, winning 8-6. Hatches and Starnes teamed up again in doubles to win their match 8-6.

Keesecker said Erwin lost a close match in a tiebreaker.

“He played long rallies and I was proud of how close he came to winning,” she added. “It was a long, tough match.”

Campbell and Starnes both came up just short in their singles matches, losing 9-7 and 8-6, respectively.

•••

The Lady Devils (0-4) are still looking for their first win of the season; however, Keesecker said the team continues to work hard to get better. The Lady Devils fell to both Central and Elizabethton last week.

“Overall, I thought the girls played their best against Sullivan Central and their improvement is showing with each match,” Keesecker said.

Against Central, Taylor Thomas bounced back from a 1-5 deficit to win her match 9-7.

“Taylor played a long, hard match and fought well,” Keesecker said. “I was really proud of the way Carson Moore played. She played the best match she’s played all season. Even though she came up short, losing 8-5, she played some great points and fought hard.”

Against Elizabethton, the doubles team of Winter Day-Honeycutt and Abby Hensley played a solid doubles match, according to Keesecker.

“The girls struggled against Elizabethton,” she added, “ but, I think the Elizabethton loss helped the girls prepare for Sullivan Central the next day.”

•••

The UCHS teams were scheduled to travel to Sullivan South for a match on Tuesday, April 18. Upcoming matches include a trip to North Greene on Monday, April 24, and a trip to Sullivan North on Tuesday, April 25.

Baseball team returns from S.C., defeats Longhorns

By Keeli Parkey

Following a tough run in an out-of-state tournament, the Unicoi County High School baseball team bounced back with a Three Rivers Conference victory.

Playing on the road in Mountain City on Monday, April 17, the Blue Devils (14-9, 7-2) hammered the Johnson County Longhorns 17-1.

“Tonight was a big game for us,” head coach Chad Gillis told The Erwin Record. “With conference winding down and coming off a tough week at the beach, we needed a big win.”

Clay Simpson earned the win for UCHS on the mound, improving his season record to 5-1. In five innings of work, Simpson gave up only three hits and struck out seven batters; he also went 3-for-4 at the plate with 3 RBIs.

“Clay pitched great tonight,” Gillis said. “ Johnson County couldn’t get anything going against him.”

After struggling at times earlier last week the Blue Devil defense stepped up against Johnson County, according to their head coach.

“Our defense played an errorless game and that always makes it easier on pitchers,” Gillis said. “We hit the ball all night. We hit several long balls that stayed in the park, but cleared the bases.  Shaddon (Peavyhouse) came up in the fourth inning and hit a grand slam to seal the deal.”

The grand slam was the second home run of the season for Peavyhouse, who went 2-for-3 on Monday with 4 RBIs. Nick Fender was 2-for-4, including a triple, with 3 RBIs. Caleb Wilson was 2-for-3.

•••

Tough competition awaited the Unicoi County High School baseball team in South Carolina last week. The Blue Devils went 1-4 during the Mingo Bay Classic played in Myrtle Beach.

“The week at Myrtle Beach was really good for us,” Gillis said. “We faced good pitching every game and solid hitters in every line up. We did some things well and others we did not. We hit the ball well, except one game. Our defensive struggles continue, but we are working through them one game at a time. I am excited to come back home and finish the season with the knowledge we gained by playing in the Mingo Bay Classic”

The Blue Devils opened the tournament on Monday, April 10, with a 4-3 loss to a “solid” team from Kempsville, according to Gillis.

“We faced a pitcher that really challenged us at the plate,” Gillis added. “We made a couple defensive mistakes that allowed runners to move around. We also had some calls that were questionable to say the least. None of our guys made any excuses throughout the game, they just kept pushing.”

Kempsville scored three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 4-1 lead.

We got two of the runs back on a double by Shaddon,” Gillis said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win. We had the tying run on second with one out in the bottom of the inning. Again, they never quit and they played with a lot of enthusiasm and effort. We didn’t win, but we learned some lessons and improved as a team.”

Wilson pitched 7 innings for the Blue Devils against Kempsville, allowing 7 hits and throwing 5 strikeouts.

Peavyhouse was 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs. Cameron Spires was 3-for-3.

Defensive miscues cost the Blue Devils against St. Albans on Tuesday, April 11.

“Defensively, we had three errors and gave up nine unearned runs,” Gillis said. “We had some guys hitting the ball, but we couldn’t stop them on defense. We have to be able to make plays to win ball games.”

St. Albans defeated UCHS 14-3.

Simpson (4-1) took the loss for UCHS. Owen Nicholson went 3-for-4 at the plate. Wilson was 3-for-3 and Peavyhouse was 2-for-3.

UCHS lost to South Lakes 11-8 on Wednesday, April 12. It was the first loss on the mound for Troy Podvin (2-1).

Fender and Peavyhouse (2 RBIs) each went 2-for-4 against South Lakes. Dylan Putman (2 RBIs) and Spires (2 RBIs) each went 2-for-3.

The Blue Devils only win of the tournament came on Thursday, April 13, when they beat Pendleton High School 5-4.

“Pendleton was a great team,” Gillis said. “Peavyhouse gave a chance on the mound and our hitters came through big in the late innings. We fought hard and handled what we could control.”

With his team trailing going into the seventh inning, Putman hit an RBI to tie the game. Podvin then knocked in two go-ahead runs to seal the win.

Putman was 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs. Podvin was 2-for-4 with 2 RBIs. Fender and Peavyhouse both were 2-for-4 in the victory.

The tournament ended for the Blue Devils with an 11-0 loss to Austintown-Finch on April 14.

“We did not play well Friday in the bracket championship,” Gillis said. “We started off the game with two errors and gave up four runs.”

•••

The Blue Devils were scheduled to host Sullivan East on Tuesday, April 18, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.

“Tomorrow we will face Sullivan East in a battle for first place in the conference,” Gillis said on Monday.

They will play in the Tribe Classic hosted by Dobyns-Bennett latter this week. They will open the tournament on Thursday, April 20, at 4:15 p.m. against the host team at Hunter Wright Stadium in Kingsport. UCHS will then face Greeneville at 7 p.m. at the same location. Tournament play continues on Friday, April 21, against Tennessee High at Tennessee High at 4:30 p.m. The Blue Devils will close the tournament on Saturday, April 22, at 10:30 a.m. against Morristown East at Daniel Boone.

The Blue Devils will play at Happy Valley on Monday, April 24, at 5:30 p.m.

Fast start lifts soccer team over University High

Jose Ortiz battles for possession of the ball during the Blue Devils’ win over University High last week. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Jose Ortiz battles for possession of the ball during the Blue Devils’ win over University High last week. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

A fast start and a strong finish lifted the Unicoi County High School boys soccer team to their second victory of the season last week.

The Blue Devils (2-4) defeated University High at Civitan Park in Johnson City on Thursday, March 30.

“We talked about the importance of finishing the game strong,” head coach Justin Ciralsky told The Erwin Record. “So far this season we have started well, and then let off the gas and it has hurt us because we lost games that we were winning. So the focus during UH was to start strong and finish strong. They accomplished this.”

The Blue Devils held a 3-0 score at halftime and traded goals with the Junior Bucs in the second half to win the game 4-1. UH’s only score came on a penalty kick.

UCHS dominated possession of the ball throughout the game – something they have done all season, according to their head coach.

“Our passing and possession have been consistent throughout the entire season,” Ciralsky said. “In every game the boys have played well. They are moving the ball around the field and making nice runs in order to keep the ball. Our three midfield players – Sam Murillo, Daniel Meza and Chris Andrade – are doing an excellent job at keeping possession. Keeping possession helps us to control the game, and it forces the other team to adapt and play our style. Keeping possession also helps us to get more shots and hopefully more goals.”

Murillo, a senior, and Meza, a junior, each scored a goal in the game. Senor Jose Ortiz scored 2. Meza turned in a standout performance for UCHS.

“Daniel had an outstanding game,” Ciralsky said. “He played consistently well and improved as the game went on. It is promising to watch him grow into a leader that the team will need throughout this year and in the years to come. As a whole most of the boys played well.”

• • •

The Blue Devils were scheduled to host Tennessee High on Tuesday, April 4, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline.

Their next game is a conference matchup scheduled for 6 p.m. against Sullivan South in Erwin.

• • •

For more photos from the game, visit http://www.erwinrecordpix.com/Sports/High-School-Sports/Soccer-High-School/Blue-Devil-Soccer/2017/Soccer-at-University-High-March-2017/

Blue Devils win three straight games

Second baseman Caleb Crain throws to first base against Sevier County. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Second baseman Caleb Crain throws to first base against Sevier County. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

Three games ended in three victories for the Unicoi County High School varsity baseball team last week.

The Blue Devils (8-4, 4-2) opened the week with an 11-1 victory over Happy Valley in Three Rivers Conference action on Tuesday, March 28.

“We played great tonight,” head coach Chad Gillis said of his team’s performance against the Warriors. “Everything came together in one game and that’s what we have been waiting for.”

Clay Simpson had a standout game for UCHS. The junior pitcher moved to 3-0 on the season with the victory, throwing 9 strikeouts and allowing only 4 hits. He also had a good game in the batter’s box, according to his head coach.

“Clay pitched a great game,” Gillis said. “Clay also had two hits himself, one being a home run.

The whole squad worked hard to get an important conference win.

“When the ball was put in play our defense made the play or got the ball in without damage,” Gillis said. “We had guys step up offensively tonight. We bounced back in a major way after a tough game on the road. I am proud of the way these guys responded and kept the fire to beat Happy Valley the way we did.”

Senior Dylan Putman went 3-for-3 with a home run in the win. Senior Shaddon Peavyhouse also hit a home run and went 2-for-3 with the plate. Junior Owen Nicholson went 3-for-3.

• • •

Sevier County left Erwin with a 6-5 loss on Thursday, March 30.

“Sevier County is a top AAA team and posed a good challenge for us,” Gillis said.

Peavyhouse got his third win of the season with a solid outing, giving up 6 hits and throwing 7 strikeouts.

“It worked out where Peavyhouse was able to pitch this game and he did a tremendous job on the mound,” Gillis said. “Shaddon battled all night with their hitters and we managed to come out on top. We had some defensive blunders, but offensively we got the job done.  We need to continue to challenge ourselves and get better everyday.”

Senior Nick Fender and Putman both went 2-for-4 at the plate with an RBI.

• • •

The Blue Devils got their second non-conference win of the week on Saturday, April 1, with a 9-6 victory over Tennessee High in Erwin.

Junior pitcher Troy Podvin led UCHS to the victory.

“Troy had a day Saturday against Tennessee High,” Gillis said. “He got the win on the mound and also went 3-for-4 at the plate, including a home run and 3 RBIs.”

The Blue Devils turned in a solid performance on offensive on Saturday.

“We played well offensively against Tennessee High,” Gillis said. “They are another good AAA team and we had to execute offensively to beat them. We bunted for hits multiple times and then had timely hitting from guys to get runners in. It was a back and forth game until the fifth inning and we put multiple runs on the board. The guys never quit and just stuck to the game plan.”

Fender went 2-for-3 and hit his second home run on the season in the game.

Last week’s action showed that his team is going in the right direction, according to the head coach.

“We seem to be getting better every day and that is great to see as a coach,” Gillis said. “We still had some defensive miscues, but are working to get those fixed.”

• • •

The Blue Devils were scheduled to host Elizabethton on Tuesday, April 4, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline.

They are scheduled to host Sullivan South for a conference game at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 5. The Blue Devils will play in the Chop House Classic from April 6-8. Tournament games are as follows: Thursday at Hunter Wright Stadium against Cherokee at 7:15 p.m.; Friday at Cardinal Park against Greeneville at 5:45 p.m. and Science Hill at 8 p.m.; Saturday at Cardinal Park against Cincinnati Elder at 1:30 p.m.

UCHS will travel to Myrtle Beach to play in the Mingo Bay Classic from April 10-14.

For more photos, follow this link: http://www.erwinrecordpix.com/Sports/High-School-Sports/High-School-Baseball/2017/UCHS-Blue-Devil-Baseball-vs-Sevier-County-March-2017/

Athletes compete at Tri-Cities Classic

Stephanie Wisse races to a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles during the Tri-Cities Track Classic held at Science Hill over the weekend. Wisse also won third in the 100-meter dash. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Stephanie Wisse races to a third-place finish in the 300-meter hurdles during the Tri-Cities Track Classic held at Science Hill over the weekend. Wisse also won third in the 100-meter dash. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

In a meet that hosted more than 700 athletes and 35 schools, members of the Unicoi County High School track and field team left an impression.

The Tri-Cities Track Classic held at Science Hill on Friday, March 31, and Saturday, April 1, was a meet where UCHS athletes saw and competed against some tough opponents, according to head coach Megan Davis.

“I think any chance we get to expose our athletes to high caliber competition is only going to raise the bar for them,” Davis said. “My expectation for our athletes is for them to perform at the postseason level. If I am going to ask that of them, I need to put them in meets where they are going to be rattled, have to compete and have to push themselves. This was that type of meet.”

Blue Devils and Lady Devils returned to Erwin with top-10 finishes from the meet.

Senior Stephanie Wisse turned in the top performances for UCHS over the weekend, winning third place in the 100-meter dash, third place in the 300-meter hurdles and ninth in the triple jump.

The 300-meter hurdle race is a new event for Wisse, having just started competing in it during this season.

“Stephanie’s 300-meter hurdle result was excellent,” Davis said. “She dropped below 50 seconds, which is what we needed her to do. That race is a stretch of endurance. She is doing really well in the event and is enjoying running it. It is an event that she can perform at the state level.”

Senior Cameron Higgins, who signed with Milligan College prior to the start of the season, turned in the most notable result for the Blue Devils – finishing ninth in the discus throw.

“Cameron threw pretty well,” Davis said. “He is performing where we need him to be right now. He is doing a lot to take care of his body. Knowing he has a future college career, he is working to make sure he ends his high school career successfully and is prepared for college. He is putting a lot of work in on his own.”

He didn’t finish in the top-10, but sophomore John Campbell represented UCHS well, including running in a new event for him – the 2,000-meter steeplechase – and setting personal records in other events, according to his head coach.

“John had an amazing weekend,” Davis said. “He has never run the steeplechase before. He did well and had fun with it. He ran personal records in both the 800-meter and the mile. He is doing everything we ask of him. He is turning in huge drops in his times.”

Other UCHS athletes made strides during the event, Davis said.

“Almost all of our athletes set personal records in some way at the meet,” she added. “It was good for them to see such quality competition.”

Eastman Tournament learning experience for team

Faith Bailey fields a ball in right field. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

Faith Bailey fields a ball in right field. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

The team they had defeated two days prior ousted the Unicoi County High School softball team from the Eastman Tournament over the weekend.

Playing in the tournament’s round of 16, the Lady Devils (11-6, 3-1) were eliminated by an 8-5 loss to Siegel on Saturday, April 1, at Brickyard Park in Kingsport.

“We had to win that game to get to Sunday’s round of 8,” head coach Grady Lingerfelt said. “Siegel is a very big school and the softball team is very well-coached. They were a good opponent and it is good for us to play people like that. …

“We hit the ball well and we got on a roll. They probably had the best pitcher we faced all year and she throws it really hard. It was a good ballgame. We should have won. We had a couple things go wrong in the end,” Lingerfelt said.

The Lady Devils took command of the game in the top half of the third inning, scoring 5 runs.

Senior Ashley Edwards opened the inning by reaching on an error, then moved to second on a single by sophomore Halie Hawkins. Edwards would then score the first run of the game thanks to an RBI-double by junior Rylee Stiltner. Junior Tanya Chavez then hit a single, scoring Hawkins and Stiltner, for a 3-0 UCHS lead.

Neelee Griffith hit a single and following two consecutive outs, fellow senior Hannah Bowen hit a 2-RBI single, scoring Griffith and Chavez, giving UCHS a 5-0 lead.

“We got up on them 5-0 and held that lead for a while,” Lingerfelt said. “Things then unraveled after that. They had some balls drop in that shouldn’t have when should have probably made the play.”

Siegel responded with 2 runs in the bottom of the third and 4 in the bottom of the fourth to take a 6-5 lead.

The Lady Devils couldn’t get back into the game and Siegel added 2 more runs to win the game 8-5. The loss eliminated the ladies from the tournament.

Bowen (2 RBIs) and Hawkins had 2 hits each in the game. Savannah Lafever, Keelie Hall, Chavez (2 RBI), Griffith and Stiltner each had 1 hit in the game.

Knox Halls won the 2017 Eastman Tournament.

• • •

During play on Thursday, March 30, the Lady Devils had beaten Siegel 4-2. This game, and the Lady Devils’ 8-4 loss to Gate City the same evening, were part of the extra games Eastman allowed teams to play. These results were not part of the tournament’s pool play, which began on Friday, March 31.

UCHS opened Friday’s pool play with a loss to Greenbrier. Despite holding a 4-0 lead following the top half of the fourth inning, the Lady Devils couldn’t close out the game and get the win. Greenbrier scored 8 runs in the bottom half of the fourth inning to win the game the 8-4

Bowen had 2 hits and 1 RBI in the loss. Hawkins had 1 hit and 2 RBIs. Lafever, Edwards, Griffith, Hall and Halie Padgett had one hit each. Stiltner had the other RBI for UCHS.

A few hours later, the Lady Devils bounced back with a 10-0 victory over Knox Karns.

UCHS scored 3 runs in the first inning and 2 in the second and 5 in the fifth to win the game. The Lady Devils had 12 hits, including 4 by Stiltner, who went 4-for-4 at the plate. Chavez went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and a home run.

UCHS opened pool play on Saturday with a 6-2 win over Tennessee High. The Lady Vikings took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first, but the Lady Devils answered with 2 runs of their own to tie the game.

UCHS took control of the game for good in the third inning when Griffith hit an RBI triple, Hall hit an RBI double and Padgett hit an RBI single. The Lady Devils scored 1 run in the fifth inning.

Griffith (2 RBIs), Hall (2 RBIs), Padgett (2 RBIs) and Hawkins had 2 hits each in the game.

The final pool play game of the day resulted in a 6-3 victory over Morristown West for the Lady Devils. Chavez had 2 hits and an RBI in the win.

“It was a very good tournament,” Lingerfelt said. “We got a lot of good experience. We can grow with it and learn from it to get better.”

• • •

The Lady Devils were scheduled to host Sullivan South for a conference game on Tuesday, April 4, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline.

They are scheduled to play conference games at Johnson County on Wednesday, April 5, and at Sullivan East on Thursday, April 6. Both games are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

“We have a busy week ahead of us,” Lingerfelt said.

The annual NFS Tournament will be played at Lady Devil Diamond in Erwin on Friday, April 7, and Saturday, April 8. The Lady Devils will compete in pool play games on Friday against Sullivan Central at 5:30 p.m. and University High at 8:30 p.m., and on Saturday at 9 a.m. against David Crockett. The bracket portion of the tournament will begin on Saturday afternoon.

The Lady Devils will open the Azalea Classic in Summerville, S.C., on Monday, April 10. Tournament play will continue through Wednesday, April 12.

Coach pleased with Blue Devils’ effort

By Keeli Parkey

The Unicoi County High School boys soccer team battled their way through a tournament last weekend.

After playing two games earlier in the week, the Blue Devils (1-4) traveled to Kingsport to play in the Jon Metcalf Highland Cup hosted by Dobyns-Bennett.

“We were the smallest school there,” head coach Justin Ciralsky said. “We played great and the scores definitely don’t reflect our efforts.”

UCHS opened the tournament with a 2-1 loss to Sullivan Central on Friday, March 24.

“In the Central game we dominated possession, passing and shooting, but we were unable to score,” Ciralsky said. “It was our best game of the season. The other team’s goalie made three absolutely amazing saves to keep them in the game.”

The loss set up a consolation game with Morristown West on Saturday, March 25. It was their third game in as many days, according to their head coach.

“Against Morristown West we were playing well and my starters got us up to an early 2-0 lead, but they were tired because that was the third game in a row so we switched some people around,” Ciralsky said. “We were also missing four players and if you combine that with three penalty kicks (for West), that is the biggest reason why we lost. The boys played well, but we were trying some players in new positions during the last two games.”

Later on Saturday, the Blue Devils fought Morristown East down to the wire, losing 8-7 in penalty kicks.

“Overall, the weekend went well and the coaching staff was quite pleased with what we saw all week long,” Ciralsky said. “We are looking forward to the rest of the season and we are dedicated to finishing strong.”

• • •

The Blue Devils saw their first conference action on Thursday, March 23, at Elizabethton. Unfortunately for UCHS, despite a solid effort they just missed out on a win, falling to the Cyclones 5-4.

“Against Elizabethton we played great, but made some costly mistakes that they were able to capitalize on,” Ciralsky said.

The Blue Devils opened the season with a 2-1 victory over Union, Va., on Monday, March 20.

UCHS got on the scoreboard early in the game and took a 1-0 lead thanks to a goal by Jose Ortiz into the first half.

Ortiz scored again for the Blue Devils in the second half. Union also got on the scoreboard, but the Blue Devils kept them in check from there. UCHS won the game 2-1.

• • •

The Blue Devils are scheduled to travel to Johnson City to play University High at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 30.

They will host Tennessee High on Tuesday, April 4, at 6 p.m.