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Lady Devils win tournament, conference title

Blue Nation ended the regular season the way it started with hits scattered across Erwin.
The Unicoi County High School Lady Devil softball team (39-3) moved to 11-1 in the Three Rivers Conference and earned the regular season league title outright along with the top seed for the upcoming District 1-AA tournament with an 11-2 win over Elizabethton on Monday, April 27, at Lady Devil Diamond.
The Lady Devil’s season-long home run derby continued at the plate with UCHS moving their home run total to 52 for the 2015 season, which is the second most in a season in Tennessee, behind the 2013 Lady Blue Devil team that sits with the state record at 61.
Tiffany Laughren (4-4, 3 RBI) and Taylor Wright (2-4, 2 RBI) each went yard for the Lady Blue Devils against a youthful Lady Cyclone team that has a bright future ahead, UCHS head coach Grady Lingerfelt said.
“They’re young and they’re a team to be reckoned with in the future,” he said about Elizabethton. “They had us on the ropes a couple of times, but we were able to make the plays. It’s good for our girls’ confidence to get out of those kind of jams.”
Elizabethton made things interesting in the conference standings last week by nabbing a 4-2 victory over the Lady Devils on Wednesday, April 22, in Carter County. The Cyclones’ win forced the hand of the Lady Blue Devils for their season finale.
Laughren helped her team in the circle by pitching a complete game with five strikeouts.
“We were pumped for this game,” Laughren said. “We lost the last game, and we know we shouldn’t have, and came out and hit the ball today.”
UCHS roped in 17 hits in the contest with Haley Webb contributing a 3-4 effort. Neelee Griffith added a pair of RBIs and a stand up triple. Cassie Foster added two hits with a score, while Hannah Keasling and Cierra Jackson added run-scoring hits.
Abby Hensley added a base hit in the contest.
The Lady Blue Devils will compete in the district tournament on Friday, May 1, at Happy Valley. Play will begin at 6:30 p.m., with the Ladies going against either Johnson County or Sullivan South.
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The Lady Devils made it a clean sweep of regular season tournaments by winning the 29th annual Tiny Day Red Edmonds championship with a 2-1 decision over Union County on Sunday, April 26, at Old Hardin Park in Greeneville.
The Lady Blue Devils capped off the tournament sweep, which included titles in the East Tennessee Classic, Eastman Invitational and the NFS Softball Classic.
Against Union County, Wright added an early RBI in the first inning, but timely base running by Hensley plated the go-ahead run late in the game.
Hensley and Webb earned all-tournament honors and Laughren was chosen as the tournament’s most valuable player. Scholarships were also awarded to select seniors during the event with Laughren, Wright and Hayes receiving the awards.
Wright and Hayes each did the damage at the plate with RBIs in the semifinals of the tournament by securing a 3-0 victory against Class AAA Cherokee.
UCHS went undefeated in pool play by defeating Sullivan Central, Gatlinburg-Pittman, North Greene and St. Benedict over a two-day stretch.
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The Lady Devils scored shutouts against Chuckey-Doak (7-0), Sullivan East (8-0) and Sullivan South (8-0) in last week’s slate of games.