By Keeli Parkey
Eight games resulted in eight victories for the Unicoi County High School softball team (24-5, 6-1) last week, including another tournament championship.
The Lady Devils survived a furious comeback by Science Hill in the championship contest to win the 20th annual NFS Tournament on Saturday, April 14, at Lady Devil Diamond.
After the Lady Hilltoppers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, UCHS scored 4 runs in the second, 2 in the third, 1 in the fourth and 3 in the fifth to hold a commanding 10-1 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth.
It then appeared that the Lady Devils would force Science Hill to go quietly as the UCHS defense forced a ground out and a fly out. Mackenzie Powell then reached base on a two-out single and was brought home on a single by Makenzie Smith for a 10-2 score. Smith next scored on an error for a 10-3 score. With two on base, Shayna Price then hit a home run for a 10-6 score before the inning came to an end.
The Lady Devils did not get a runner on base in the top of the sixth and needed three outs to win the game and the tournament crown before the game would be called for time.
Following a flyout, Kasey Bennett homered for the Hilltoppers for a 10-7 score. Following another flyout, Mia Edwardson and Powell each hit two-out solo home runs, which cut the UCHS lead to one run, 10-9.
The Lady Devils then got the out they needed to win – a grounder fielded by Greta Raby who threw to Halie Padgett at first base to end the game. Allee Griffith got the win for UCHS in the circle.
Halie Hawkins was 3-4 at the plate with 3 RBIs. Sydney Miller also had 3 RBIs in the game. Chloe Powers was 2-2 with an RBI. Griffith, Grace Ann Clark (1 RBI) and Ashtan Vance were each 2-4. Rylee Stiltner and Samantha Chavez each had an RBI.
Pool play in the NFS Tournament began on Friday, April 13. On that day UCHS defeated Johnson County, 8-2, and Sullivan South, 17-0. The Lady Devils wrapped up pool play on Saturday morning with a 13-3 victory over Tennessee High.
The tournament portion of the competition began Saturday afternoon where UCHS defeated Sullivan Central, 10-0, in the quarterfinals and defeated Unaka, 3-2, in the semifinals.
• • •
UCHS earned two conference wins earlier last week.
On Wednesday, April 11, the Lady Devils won 15-3 at Sullivan Central, thanks in part to a 4-RBI game by Miller, who was 2-4 in the game.
Padgett and Griffith each contributed 3 RBIs. Clark had 2.
The following day, UCHS defeated Happy Valley, 17-2, at Lady Devil Diamond. Miller continued her hot streak at the plate, going 4-4 with 5 RBIs in the win.
Tanya Chavez had 3 RBIs and Griffith had 2.
• • •
The Lady Devils will have an opportunity to avenge a previous conference loss to Elizabethton when the Lady Cyclones come to Erwin on Wednesday, April 18, at 6 p.m.
They are scheduled to host Johnson County at 6 p.m. on Monday, April 23, and travel to Sullivan East on Tuesday, April 24, at 6 p.m. for conference games.