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.

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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.