Chloe Powers fields the ball in left field during a recent game. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

By Keeli Parkey

An annual tournament and a tough conference loss headlined last week for the Unicoi County High School softball team (16-5, 4-1).

On Wednesday, April 4, the Lady Devils fell behind, 1-0, in the second inning at Elizabethton and never scored in a 3-0 Three Rivers Conference loss.

“We just couldn’t hit the ball,” head coach Grady Lingerfelt said. “They have a good pitcher and we didn’t get the bat on the ball.”

UCHS had only two hits in the game – a triple by Halie Hawkins and single by Allee Griffith. The loss snapped an 8-game winning streak by the Lady Devils.

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The Lady Devils had no time to dwell on the loss to Elizabethton as they began play in the annual Eastman Tournament in Kingsport the following day.

On Thursday, April 5, UCHS fell to Macon East Academy, 5-0. For the second game in a row, the Lady Devils struggled at the plate – this time getting only three hits. Hawkins, Sydney Miller and Samantha Chavez had one hit each in the loss.

The Lady Devils got their bats going in their second game on Thursday, scoring 7 runs on 9 hits to defeat Claiborne, 7-3, in pool play.

Rylee Stiltner, Tanya Chavez (1 RBI) and Allee Griffith (3 RBIs) were all 2-3 at the plate in the game. Hawkins also had an RBI.

Friday’s competition at the Eastman Tournament began with a 6-5 victory over Greeneville by the Lady Devils in pool play.

After trailing 4-2 after three innings, UCHS scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning to take a 6-4 lead. Greeneville added another run in the bottom half of the inning, but the Lady Devils held on for the win.

Hawkins, Halie Padgett and Ashtan Vance (1 RBI) were all 2-3 in the game. Grace Ann Clark had 3 RBIs while going 1-2. Padgett got the win in the circle for UCHS.

Rain forced the cancellation of all games on Saturday. The Eastman Tournament resumed on Sunday, April 8.

In their final two games of pool play, the Lady Devils defeated Cherokee, 3-1, and Morristown West, 7-1. These victories set up a game against Greeneville during the tournament portion of the event.

In this game, the Lady Devils scored 1 run in the first and 5 in the second and never looked back as they advanced to the next round. Stiltner was 2-2 at the plate with an RBI in the win. Miller and Chloe Powers were both 1-2 with 2 RBIs. Griffith got the win in the circle.

“We played well in those games,” Lingerfelt said. “We are starting to hit the ball better.”

UCHS then faced David Crockett, a team they had previously defeated 2-0, this season. With Padgett in the circle, the Lady Devils took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the third inning; however, Crockett later added two more runs to win the game 5-4.

“We were disappointed to lose that game,” Lingerfelt said. “The girls put up a good fight, but things just didn’t go our way.”

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The Lady Devils avenged their Eastman loss to Crockett with a 7-2 victory in Jonesborough over the Lady Pioneers on Monday, April 9.

“The girls played like they had something to prove,” Lingerfelt said about Monday’s win. “They wanted to send a message after losing to Crockett on Sunday.”

UCHS took control of the game in the second inning, scoring 6 runs. Griffith pitched seven innings and got the win in the circle for the Lady Devils.

Hawkins was 2-3 in the game. Vance was 2-3. Grace Ann Clark was 2-4 with an RBI. T. Chavez had a home run and 3 RBIs. Miller had 2 RBIs and Stiltner had 1.

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The Lady Devils are scheduled to travel to Sullivan Central for a conference game on Wednesday, April 11, at 6 p.m. They will host Happy Valley in conference play on Thursday, April 12, at 6 p.m.

UCHS will host the annual NFS Tournament on Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14. The Lady Devils are scheduled to play their first game of the tournament at 5:30 p.m. on Friday,

The Lady Devils will travel to Sullivan South for a conference game on Tuesday, April 17, at 6 p.m. They will host Elizabethton at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 18.