A busy week at the office saw the Unicoi County High School softball team conclude its affairs on a high note in Johnson City.
During a five-game stretch in the annual East Tennessee Classic, held at Winged Deer Park, the Lady Blue Devils took home consolation honors in the Bronze Bracket with a 6-0 shutout over McGavock High School on Saturday, March 26.
UCHS concluded the week with a 4-5 record overall and moved to 2-1 inside the Three Rivers Conference.
Freshman Halie Hawkins went 3-for-3 at the plate with a pair of doubles and scored three times for head coach Grady Lingerfelt during the Lady Devils’ win on Saturday. Neelee Griffith added a double and 2 RBIs in the win, while third baseman Savannah Lafever laced a hit and drove in a run.
Halie Padgett tossed a one-hitter through five innings of work with eight strikeouts to score the victory for UCHS. Junior Lady Devil Hannah Bowen added two innings in relief; she allowed only one hit and threw a strikeout.
UCHS began play in the Bronze Bracket and were knocked into the consolation game after a 5-2 loss against Region 2-AA rival Chuckey-Doak, during the start of tournament play on Saturday.
Lady Devil shortstop Rylee Stiltner went 3-for-3, scoring twice, while Abby Hensley had 2 RBIs in the contest.
Bowen was tagged with the loss after allowing four runs in the first against the upperclassmen-laden Lady Black Knights.
The game with Chuckey-Doak was a repeat from the early morning pool play game on Saturday, where UCHS took an 11-1 victory in five innings.
In that game, Stiltner drove in three runs and Lafever added 2 RBIs. Hawkins, Ashley Edwards and Cassi Foster each knocked in runs. H. Padgett earned the win allowing one run on five hits.
UCHS began pool play on Friday, March 25, with a pair of losses to Class AAA powers Dobyns-Bennett and Knox Karns.
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UCHS got back into the winning way of things inside the conference with a 4-3 battle with Sullivan East on Thursday, March 24, at Lady Devil Diamond.
“It was a tough game,” head coach Grady Lingerfelt said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we’ll take the win. I was extremely proud of the girls on the way they battled back.”
Kelseay Smith and Kylee Wolfe got Sullivan East rolling with run-scoring hits in the first inning, but were countered by Lafever and Ashlie Padgett (2-for-2) in the bottom of the first to knot things up at 2-2.
Lady Patriot Chelsea Sams made things interesting with a solo home run in the third, but Stiltner later scored to knot things up again 3-3 with tension brewing in the sixth.
After a slow day at the plate, Griffith received a pep talk from A.Padgett near the dugout and the words worked wonders as Griffith hit a two-out triple in the sixth. Tanya Chavez entered the contest with the next at-bat and knocked in Griffith with an RBI single through right field.
Hensley picked up the win in relief after a rocky start in the circle by H.Padgett.
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Hawkins went 3-for-5 with a solo home run, but Science Hill rallied late to come away with a 5-4 nonconference victory on Monday, March 21, at Lady Devil Diamond.
A.Padgett (2-for-5, RBI) and Stiltner (2-for-4) posted multi-hit outings for the Lady Devils. Lafever added a hit and an RBI to help lead UCHS in the contest.
Hensley went seven innings in the circle for the Lady Devils and received a no decision; she allowed three runs off nine hits and struck out one. H.Padgett received the loss after a solid three innings of extra play to pitch, allowing just three hits.
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UCHS was competing in the annual Azalea Classic in South Carolina after The Erwin Record’s press deadline. The three-day tournament was set to conclude for the girls on Wednesday, March 30.
The Lady Devils will have a quick turnaround once returning to Tennessee as they will take part in the annual Eastman Invitational in Kingsport. Action gets underway on Thursday, March 31, at Domtar Park No. 7 with UCHS set to face Sullivan Central at 5 p.m. and then square off against Grainger at 8 p.m.
UCHS continues play on Friday, April 1, competing against Morristown-East and Cookeville at Brickyard Field No. 3 with action set to start at 7:30 p.m. Pool plays concludes on Saturday, April 2, with games against University High and Tennessee High at Domtar Park No. 8, with action set for 10 a.m. The tournament portion of the Eastman Invitational will begin Sunday, April 3.