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Lady Devils off to strong start

By Curtis Carden

Winning ways continue for the Unicoi County Middle School softball teams.

The Jr. Lady Blue Devils varsity moved to 9-0 on the year on Tuesday, March 22, after disposing of Colonial Heights on the road 10-2.

Kiley Bennett, Kailya Street, Kate Hollenback and Nickolette Ferguson knocked in two hits each to lead a 10-hit effort by the squad. Leah Edney and Gabby Davis tacked on a hit each. Hollenback led the scoring effort with 2 RBIs, while Street, Ferguson, Edney and Davis all drove in a run each.

Ferguson recorded the win in the circle in a complete game, allowing just one earned run off 10 hits and striking out seven batters.

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UCMS rattled off 11 hits and Ferguson had 5 RBIs in their 16-5 road win over Vance Middle School on Thursday, March 17, in five innings of work.

Head coach Eleana Pate and the Blue Nation crew moved their varsity record to 8-0 with the victory.

“I came into a program with a great group of girls,” first year head coach Eleana Pate told The Erwin Record on Friday, March 18. “They know all the basics and have been coached by some of the greats in town. My job is to maintain it and the girls have been a joy to coach.”

UCMS was led by Ferguson’s perfect 4-for-4 outing. Ashtan Vance, Kaylee Lamb and Abbie Grindstaff helped the Jr. Lady Devils’ offensive production with 2 RBIs each. Grindstaff joined in the effort with three hits. Bennett and Lamb added a hit apiece.

Ferguson has been one of the workhorses for the team, Pate said, providing a consistant bat along with pitching prowess inside the circle.

Davis (2-for-3) backed up her hitting performance by scoring the win in the circle, while tossing four innings of work. Davis allowed nine hits and five runs, three earned, with a strikeout in the contest.

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UCMS was led by Vance at the dish (3-for-3, 2 RBIs,) and Ferguson in the circle in their 7-2 victory against T.A. Dugger on Tuesday, March 15, in Elizabethton.

The Jr. Lady Devils did their damage in the first three innings of play, opening the contest with a 4-run first inning and banked on Ferguson ( 6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 K) to keep their undefeated streak intact.

The traditional Unicoi and Carter County rivalry had the Blue Nation ready to play, according to their coach.

“They were fired up for the game,” Pate said.

Pate’s UCMS crew was able to get the bats cracking on the road, roping in eight hits. Bennett turned in a multi-hit performance (2-for-3) and had 2 RBIs. Ferguson, Davis and Street each added a hit, while Hollenback and Sam Chavez each brought a run across.

Also on March 15, the junior varsity received a bit of a scare from the Jr. Lady Cyclones, but were able to hang on for a 6-5 win.

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The Jr. Lady Devils were able to go the distance recently, rattling off four straight victories to capture tournament gold in Greeneville on Saturday, March 12.

In the tournament championship, UCMS used key hits at the right time to defeat Ridgeview, 4-1.

Ferguson went 3-for-3 in the title game, picked up the win and accounted for one of the team’s winning runs. Davis and Hollenback each contributed an RBI in the win.

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The UCMS teams are scheduled to host Church Hill on Wednesday, March 30, and travel to Liberty Bell on Thursday, March 31.