By Keeli Parkey
The Unicoi County High School softball team (8-2, 2-0) showed its grit against a conference foe on Monday.
Trailing 4-0, the Lady Devils never gave up and fought back to defeat Sullivan South, 7-4.
“South is a tough team,” head coach Grady Lingerfelt said. “But, we never gave up or felt like we couldn’t come back. It’s always good to know you can hang in there and compete, even when you don’t get off to a good start.”
South took a 4-0 lead into the home half of the third inning. Coming to the plate with two outs, Halie Hawkins put UCHS on the scoreboard with a solo home run. Rylee Stiltner then singled and was moved to third base on a double by Sydney Miller. Halie Padgett then reached base on an error which scored both Stiltner and Miller.
In the bottom half of the fourth, Tanya Chavez reached base on a double, then scored on a single by Ashtan Vance to tie the game, 4-4.
The Lady Devils took the lead for good in the fifth inning when Padgett hit a 3-run home run and the team held on for a 7-4 victory.
UCHS had 11 hits in the game. Padgett was 1-3 with 5 RBIs and got the win in the circle. Hawkins (1 RBI) and Stiltner both went 2-4. Miller went 2-3. Vance (1 RBI) and Chloe Powers were both 1-3.
The Lady Devils opened conference play on March 19 with a 13-1 victory over Sullivan Central in Erwin. UCHS took control of the game in the second inning, scoring 7 runs.
“That was a good way to get the conference season started,” Lingerfelt said.
Stiltner (3 RBIs) and Powers (2 RBIs) both went 3-3 in the win. Miller was 2-2 with an RBI. Grace Ann Clark was 1-2 with 2 RBIs.
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Before the tournament was cancelled due to last weekend’s inclement weather, the Lady Devils earned three solid victories in the East Tennessee Classic played at Winged Deer Park.
On Friday, March 23, UCHS first defeated David Crockett, 2-0.
The Lady Devils scored their first run of the game when Allee Griffith bunted into a fielder’s choice, scoring Stiltner from third. The team’s second run came on a sacrifice-fly by Clark, scoring Miller.
With Padgett in the circle, the UCHS defense made the lead hold up the rest of the way to earn a victory over one of the better teams in the region.
“Halie pitched well,” Lingerfelt said. “It was a good win over a good team.”
Stiltner and Griffith (1 RBI) were both 2-3 in the victory. Miller and Powers were both 1-3. Clark was 1-2 (1 RBI).
Later on Friday, the Lady Devils defeated Chuckey-Doak, 13-0, and Volunteer, 12-0. The tournament was officially cancelled on Saturday morning.
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The Lady Devils will travel to Happy Valley on Wednesday, March 28, for a conference game against the Lady Warriors at 5 p.m. They are scheduled to host conference Sullivan East at 5 p.m. in Erwin on Thursday, March 29.
The junior varsity squad will play in the annual Blue Tech JV Tournament in Erwin on Friday, March 30, and Saturday, March 31.
UCHS will have a showdown with conference rival Elizabethton on the road on Tuesday, April 3, at 5 p.m.