By Curtis Carden
The youngsters of Unicoi County let the area know that the future will be bright on both diamonds at the middle and high school levels.
Following up the success from the Unicoi County High School and Unicoi County Middle School Lady Devil softball teams during the 2012 regular season, two Unicoi County Little League all-star softball teams have qualified for their respective state tournaments.
The 11-12 year-old all-star softball squad clinched their state tournament berth with a 6-0 win over Bristol at Elizabethton High School on Sunday, July 8.
The Lady Devils, managed by Travis Griffith, shutout their opponents during three days of District 5 Tournament action, while scoring 30 runs of their own.
We had a lot of great plays defensively throughout the tournament, Griffith said. Neelee Griffith and Rylee Stiltner were big on defense, along with the rest of the team.
Halie Padgett wrapped up the game as one of the top offensive performers bringing in two hits during the game.
The girls were a little slow at first, but adjusted throughout the game, Griffith said.
Unicoi entered the championship game after a 14-0 semifinal win over Daniel Boone on Saturday, July 7.
The 9-10 year-old softball all-stars will also compete for a state title following a 10-5 victory over Daniel Boone on Sunday. It was the teams second victory over Daniel Boone during the tournament.
Manager Chris Bogart said his girls were ready for the challenge after battling through a hectic weekend schedule.
It was a hard fought game, but our girls responded very well, Bogart said. We got down early, but our girls rallied late and pulled away with the win.
The team responded to adversity early in the championship round, after getting down 3-0 in the first inning.
We got off to a little bit of a slow start, Bogart said.
The ladies responded by chalking up five runs in the third, until Boone rallied to knot up the game.
Unicoi unloaded in the final innings, tallying in five runs to put the game away.
Chloe Powers, Nickolette Ferguson, and Allee Griffith each handled pitching duties throughout the final two games of the district tournament.
On the baseball side of things, the 7-8 year-old all-stars, managed by Mike Peterson, brought in a third-place finish after a successful run in the district tournament.
The Blue Devils defeated Jonesborough 12-1 in four innings to advance to semifinal action, the Devils clinched their district tournament berth by knocking off the Johnson City Nationals on Wednesday, July 4.
Petersons crew won three of four games prior to the district tournament play.
The 7-8 year-old softball all-stars, managed by Jason Peterson, and 9-10 year-old baseball all-star squad, managed by Adam Clouse, respectfully wrapped up their tournaments after two games in early action of the tournaments.
The state-bound softball teams will kick off action on Saturday, July 14, with the 11-12 year-olds traveling to Tazewell while the 9-10 year-olds will head to Maryville.
Times for the games have not been announced. Stay updated with The Erwin Records Facebook page for more information when it becomes available.
The 11-12 year-old all-star baseball team kicked off their regular season on Monday, July 9, at the Daniel Boone Little League Fields behind the Appalachian Fairgrounds in Gray. With a victory on Monday, the Devils will play on Tuesday, July 10, at 8:30 p.m.; with a loss on Monday, the Devils will play in the losers bracket on Tuesday, July 10, at 6 p.m.
By Curtis Carden