By Keeli Parkey

Thanks to an undefeated league record, the Unicoi County High School softball team went into the District 1-AA tournament as the number one seed and opened postseason play on Friday, May 3, against Elizabethton (9-16) at Sullivan East.

The Lady Devils (32-9) got going early in this game, scoring 2 runs in the first and 3 in the second to take a commanding 5-0 lead.

“We played very well,” UCHS head coach Grady Lingerfelt told The Erwin Record. “It was a good ballgame.”

Pitcher Allee Griffith helped her own cause in the bottom of the first with a 2-run home run that also scored Chloe Powers. Carly Kinsler and Halie Hawkins each hit home runs in the second inning. Hawkins’ was a 2-run shot that also scored Kiley Bennett. UCHS added another run in the third and another in the fourth before sealing the mercy-rule victory with 3 runs in the fifth inning.

Griffith gave up only 2 hits and had 5 strikeouts in the shutout victory. She also had 2 hits and 2 RBIs.

“All pitched very well,” Lingerfelt said. “We also hit the ball very well. We played a very good game.”

Kinsler also had 2 hits and 1 RBI. Hawkins (2 RBIs), Cassie Selvage (1 RBI), Samantha Chavez, Ashtan Vance (1 RBI), Bella Bogart and Bennett (1 RBI) each had 1 hit.

The victory over Elizabethton sent the Lady Devils to the next round where they faced Sullivan East (26-13), the tournament’s number two seed and preseason pick to win the league, on Monday, May 6. In the two previous meetings between the teams, the Lady Devils dominated, winning both by 11 runs.

That would not be the case on Monday as the Lady Patriots hit four home runs – two by Katelyn Loudy and one each by Chelsea Sams and Kylee Wolfe – en route to a 13-1 victory.

“It was one of those nights you want to forget about,” Lingerfelt said. “To East’s credit, they are a very good softball team. They hit the ball very well.”

East took control of the game in the top of the second inning when Loudy hit a grand slam to left field. The Lady Patriots added two more runs in that inning to take a 6-0 lead.

The Lady Devils got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when Chavez stole home.

UCHS threatened to score again in the bottom of the fifth, having bases loaded, but could not get a timely hit. UCHS left 10 runners on base in the game.

East added two runs in the sixth and five in the seventh for the final score of 13-1.

The Lady Devils had only 6 hits in the game. Hawkins had 2. Selvage, Chavez, Bogart and Bennett each had 1.

Lingerfelt said he believes his team can bounce back from the loss to East.

“That’s just one game,” he said.

Monday’s loss sent UCHS to the losers’ bracket where they faced either Sullivan South or Elizabethton on Tuesday after The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue. A loss ended the Lady Devils’ season. A victory qualified the Lady Devils for the region tournament and set up another matchup with East on Wednesday, May 8, at 5:30 p.m.

UCHS can still win the district championship, but they will have to defeat East twice to do so. Should the Lady Devils defeat East in the 5:30 p.m. game on Wednesday, the second game will be played at 7 p.m.