By Keeli Parkey
The Unicoi County High School softball team has a flair for the dramatic.
After trailing Sullivan East for most of an important Three Rivers Conference game, the Lady Devils (10-2, 4-0) rallied for a come-from-behind victory on Thursday, March 29, in Erwin.
“Things did not go well for us early in the game,” Lady Devil head coach Grady Lingerfelt said. “I’m proud of the way the girls fought their way back into it.”
The Lady Patriots took a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Lady Devil Tanya Chavez put her team on the scoreboard with a solo home run over center field.
East went ahead by two runs again in the top of the third. UCHS cut the lead back to one run, 3-2, when Halie Hawkins stole home plate in the bottom of the third.
Sullivan East took control of the game with a 2-run fourth inning, then held the Lady Devils scoreless in the bottom of that inning to lead 5-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, another Chavez went yard on Sullivan East. This time, it was Samantha – Tanya’s younger sister – hitting the ball out of the park. Hawkins then singled, which brought Rylee Stiltner to the plate. With one swing, Stiltner tied the game.
The game went into extra innings. UCHS held East in check in the top of the eighth. Lady Devil Sydney Miller was hit by a pitch. Abbie Grindstaff, who was brought in to run for Miller, reached second on a ground out. Tanya Chavez was intentionally walked.
Allee Griffith came to the plate with two on and a chance to win the game for her team – which she did by hitting an RBI-single to center.
“That was a really good win,” Lingerfelt said. “We had several players step up and make big plays for us.”
Padgett had 6 strikeouts in the circle during the win. Stiltner was 2-4 at the play with 3 RBIs. Tanya Chavez was 3-3 with 1 RBI. Hawkins was 2-4. Samantha Chavez was 1-2 with 1 RBI.
The Lady Devils held off a seventh-inning rally by Happy Valley in Carter County on Wednesday, March 28, to earn a 9-6 conference win.
“We got out to a good start and took the lead,” Lingerfelt said. “A couple of things went wrong for us later in the game, but we were able to hold for the win.”
Chloe Powers was 2-4 at the plate with 3 RBIs in the win. Griffith was 3-4. Padgett was 2-3 with an RBI. Grace Ann Clark was 1-3 with 2 RBIs. Stiltner had 2 RBIs.
Griffith got the win in the circle and had 6 strikeouts. Padgett earned the save.
The Lady Devils faced conference rival Elizabethton for the first time this season on Tuesday, April 3, after The Erwin Record’s press deadline. They are scheduled to travel to Johnson County on Wednesday, April 4, for a conference game beginning at 6 p.m.
They will end the week in the annual Eastman Tournament in Kingsport being played April 5-8. UCHS will then travel to David Crockett on Monday, April 9, at 5:30 p.m. and to Sullivan Central on Tuesday, April 10, at 6 p.m.