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Off the Field – Define success (May 20, 2015 issue)

What defines a successful season?
The ultimate goal high school teams strive for each year is making it to the state tournament hosted in Murfreesboro. But is that the only definition of a successful season?
The Unicoi County High School softball and baseball teams fell just one victory short of punching their tickets to the TSSAA Spring Fling, but don’t let that fool you – both teams have seasons that can be viewed as successful.
The Lady Blue Devils finished the 2015 season with a 43-5 record, four regular season tournament champions and the 20th District 1-AA title for the program in the past 21 years.
Led by eight seniors – Cassie Foster, Cierra Jackson, Destinie Hayes, Hannah Keasling, Taylor Smith, Taylor Wright, Tiffany Laughren and Haley Webb – the team knocked in 55 home runs for the season.
Head coach Grady Lingerfelt and coaches Chris Bogart, Danielle Hensley and Junia Gindlesperger saw their team run the roads achieving success this year.
Blue Nation has nothing but praise for their ladies. Congratulations to the seniors on their careers.
The loss of sophomore standout Brandon Garland in the first game of the season due to injury, a small senior class, a loaded Three Rivers Conference pool of teams and a first year head coach in Chad Gillis could have signaled rough sailing for Blue Devils this season.
However, the Blue Devils navigated the waters quite successfully.
The team hit the 20-plus win plateau, saw Sam McInturff emerge as the leader of one of the better bullpens in Northeast Tennessee and had a defensive effort the majority of the time that even major league teams could take note of.
Gillis and the coaching staff of Andy Baxter, Keith Greer and Logan Rice deserve a tip-of-the-cap for work that saw the Blue Devils make noise in the postseason. Also deserving recognition are the seniors, McInturff, Nathan Derry, Will Hubbard and Cody Jack Rogers, who provided leadership for the underclassmen group.
And the future is bright, much like the Lady Blue Devils. With a high-number of baseball players returning to the program, expect UCHS to be knocking on the door again for a trip to the Spring Fling.
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