The Unicoi County softball team ended its Upper Lake Conference regular season schedule with a powerful display.
The Blue Devils scored eight runs in the top of the seventh and held on to defeat Sullivan East 13-9 on April 25 in Bluff City.
The victory secured Unicoi County the No. 2 seed for the district tournament, which will be played in Erwin beginning either Friday or Monday. The Devils will open against the loser of Elizabethton and Volunteer, who were scheduled to meet on May 2 to decide the Nos. 1 and 3 seeds.
Head coach Ray Webb’s Blue Devils (14-12-1) are peaking at the right time, and the batters are the primary reason.
Kendel Hensley was 3-for-5 with three runs, two home runs, two RBIs and a double in the win against East. Destiny Bridges went 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs and three RBIs. Peyton Higgins also homered while going 2-for-5 with four RBIs and a run.
And Skylar Tipton was 4-for-5 with an RBI.
“That was maybe her best game of the year. She really hit it well,” Webb said. “That was a crazy game. I mean both teams were hitting it. East hit it really good, honestly. We just hit a little better.”
Laurel Osborne (3-for-4), Jala Chandley (2-for-4, run, RBI) and Kynzie Jones (2-for-4) also had productive games at the plate against the Patriots.
“Yeah, there were some good stats in that one,” Webb said. “Be nice if they could do that every game.”
The Devils didn’t need a hit parade against Morristown East on Saturday thanks to pitcher Cami Peterson. She allowed two runs on three hits and four walks in six innings to record a 4-2 win against the Hurricanes in Greeneville.
“Cami pitched a really good game (against Morristown East),” Webb said. “She walked somebody, a girl hit a home run, and otherwise she pretty much shut ’em down. And we hit it just solid enough to get the win.”
Jala Chandley’s two-out double scored Osborne to tie the score, 2-2, in the top of the fourth, and Peterson’s single to left scored Chandley with what proved to be the winning run.
Osborne was 2-for-2 with a run and a walk. Keri Huskins had a double, an RBI and a walk. Chandley was 1-for-3 with two RBIs.
The Morristown East game was part of the rain-shortened Tiny Day tournament. Unicoi County’s only other game was an 8-2 loss to Jefferson County on Saturday.
“Their pitcher kept us off stride somehow,” Webb said. “I was kind of surprised.”
The loss isn’t expected to dampen team spirit or slow momentum. Unicoi County will enter the postseason having won 10 of its last 13.
“We’re definitely headed in the right direction,” Webb said. “We’ve just gotta keep it up at the tournament. They’re definitely ready to play.”
Hensley leads the team with seven home runs, 32 RBIs and a .513 batting average. Bridges is batting .480 with a team-leading 23 runs.
The Blue Devils have won and lost this season against each of its potential first-round opponents. Webb said there’s no preference as far as playing Volunteer or Elizabethton.
“We’re going to have to play good either way,” he said. “If you don’t play good against anybody in our conference, you don’t win.”