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Lady Devils win 20th district title in 21 years

The Unicoi County High School Lady Devil softball team advanced to the Region 1-AA semifinals after earning their 20th District 1-AA softball championship in 21 years in a 5-2 decision over Happy Valley on Wednesday, May 6, in the title contest.
The Lady Devils were scheduled to face Grainger County in the region semifinals on Monday, May 11; however, this game was postponed due to rain. The game was scheduled to be played on Tuesday, May 12, following The Erwin Record’s press deadline for this issue.
In last week’s championship game, Happy Valley knotted up the game at 2-2 in the fourth inning to make things interesting.
However, UCHS was able to keep their composure, senior Tiffany Laughren said. The senior also noted her love of music and that humming a little tune in the circle helps her stay relaxed.
This helped Laughren go the distance, scattering five hits with five strikeouts and kept the Lady Warriors off the scoreboard for the remainder of the contest.
“I trust my team,” Laughren said. “We’ve gotten through games like this before.”
Winning four regular season tournaments also helped the team, Laughren said.
“In all the championships of the tournaments, we’ve faced some good teams,” she added. “They were all good and those tournaments helped us get ready for this moment.”
Defense was also key for the ladies. Cierra Jackson and Abby Hensley helped orchestrate a run down in the seventh inning to help end the game.
Along with Haley Webb at shortstop and Taylor Wright at first base, the infield kept their defensive effort alive with plays from the outfield, according to Jackson.
“We’re the team that’s not afraid to get dirty,” she added. “We’ll get down to get the ball. We’ll do whatever it takes to win a game and play together as a team to do that.”
UCHS added the lead in the fifth with RBIs from Hayes and Jackson that helped seal the triumph.
“We always start hitting in the fifth inning,” Jackson said with a laugh. “I don’t know what it is, but we always do that it seems like. We got our heads up and started cheering in the dugout.”
Hensley led the ladies at the plate going 2-4 with an RBI. Neelee Griffith, Webb, Jackson, Wright and Laughren all added a base hit each in the win.
Laughren was named the tournament MVP and was joined on the all-tournament team by Griffith, Hayes, Hensley, and Wright.