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Lady Devil softball team wins annual NFS Tournament

The Unicoi County High School softball team celebrated the start of the annual NFS Tournament with a ceremonial first pitch on Friday, April 13. Throwing the first pitch was NFS representative Kierna Mason. The Lady Devils went on to win the tournament with a victory over Science Hill in the championship game. (Erwin Record Staff Photo by Keeli Parkey)

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.

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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.

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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.