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.
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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.”
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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.