By Curtis Carden
An early inning effort was met with ferocious comeback during the TSSAA Class AA Sectional contest on Friday, May 20, in Knoxville.
The Lady Blue Devil softball team scored two runs in the first inning, but Christian Academy of Knoxville came alive in later innings to earn a 13-3 victory.
With the victory, the Lady Warriors advanced to this week’s TSSAA Spring Fling in Murfreesboro, while UCHS ended the year with a 33-16 record. Friday’s contest was a rematch from 2015 when the Lady Devils traveled to CAK and were unable to punch a ticket to the Spring Fling.
Blue Nation jumped on board early and left last year’s game in the rearview mirror after freshman catcher Halie Hawkins led off with a double. After a stolen base and a rain delay, Hawkins was later driven in by senior outfielder Ashlie Padgett. First baseman Neelee Griffith sped across home plate later off an error to give her squad the 2-0 lead.
UCHS carried the lead into the third inning, when the Lady Warriors’ saw their bats come alive and scored four runs.
Tanya Chavez added a solo home run late in the game, but it would not be enough as CAK rattled off four runs in the sixth to put the run rule in effect and close out the game.
The Lady Devils were led by Chavez, who finished 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs. Hawkins, A. Padgett, and Ashley Edwards added a hit each to pace the effort for the team.
Halie Padgett was charged the loss, but tossed a respective outing. She lasted 3-2/3 innings and allowed seven runs off nine hits and struck out two batters. Abby Hensley entered the game in relief and pitched the final two-plus innings.
Caroline Cavin (4-for-4) and Hannah DeVault led the Lady Warriors, combining for 6 RBIs in the win. Allison Zimmerman recorded the victory CAK.
UCHS ended the year after finishing second place in the Three Rivers Conference in the regular season and earning the District 1-AA championship in an exciting extra innings contest with Elizabethton.
The Lady Devils graduate four seniors of this year’s team: A. Padgett, Hensley, Haley Peterson and Megan Gray.
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The Lady Devils were sent on the road for substate after an extra inning thriller at Lady Devil Diamond on Wednesday, May 18, against conference rival Elizabethton.
After pushing the issue into the eighth inning, Lady Cyclone freshman Haley Fair knocked a two-run home run to help her team to a 4-2 victory.
Wednesday’s contest saw a combined 23 hits from both teams.
Things got dicey early for UCHS when Kennedy Richardson and Allison Riddle gave the Lady Cyclones the 2-0 early bump on RBI hits.
Chavez helped the Lady Devils’ cause in the sixth inning, trailing 2-1. After driving in A. Padgett on a blooper that turned into a double earlier in the contest, the junior went yard with a solo home run.
With both teams unable to muster runs in the seventh, the stage was set for Fair to allow her team to host a substate game. In that game, the Lady Cyclones lost to Region 2 runner-up, Union County.
Rylee Stiltner, A. Padgett, Chavez and Hawkins finished the contest with two hits each, while Hensley and Griffith added a hit apiece. H. Padgett recorded the no decision by tossing seven innings and giving up four runs, three earned, and tossing four strikeouts. Hensley pitched the Lady Devils out of the jam in the eighth, but picked up the loss in a respective outing.