By Trey Williams
The Unicoi County softball team ran up against a quality pitcher in a loss to Pikeville (Kentucky) on March 29 in Pigeon Forge, but second baseman Samanta Chavez still did her thing.
Chavez, a Walters State signee, tallied two hits in a 5-1 loss to Pikeville’s Emily Ford. Chavez improved her season average to .400. She leads the Blue Devils in home runs (four) and RBIs (19).
“Sam’s a good player,” Unicoi County coach Grady Lingerfelt said. “She’s a good kid and got a real good head on her shoulders. And she loves the game, loves to play it.”
Chavez’s sister Betsabe, a shortstop, is also a college prospect. Their brother Chris, a freshman on the baseball team, appears to have a bright future as well.
“They’re all very athletic and they’ve got a lot of talent,” Lingerfelt said. Ford set a Pikeville record by striking out 16 Blue Devils. “She was a very good pitcher,” Lingerfelt said. “Other than that, we were about even with ‘em.”
Ford didn’t have to face Unicoi County’s leading hitter, Caroline Podvin. She missed two games with an ankle injury, but was expected to return this week – as early as April 5 against Johnson County. Podvin was hitting .485 with two doubles, a triple and nine RBIs in 11 games.
“That’s big getting her back,” Lingerfelt said. “She might’ve been our hottest hitter.” Leah Edney is second on the team with a .438 average. She has four doubles, a home run and 11 RBIs. Hannah Shelton is third in batting (.436) and second in RBIs (18). Her two home runs are tied for second on the team with Destiny Bridges, who leads the team with 16 runs and eight stolen bases. Cami Peterson has struck out 27 while allowing 27 hits and six walks in 31 innings on the mound. She has a 1.79 ERA.
The Blue Devils (2-1, 5-8) will try to avenge a 9-7 home loss to Sullivan East on March 16 when they visit the Patriots (4-0, 6-5) on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Unicoi County was scheduled to face Three Rivers Conference co-leader Elizabethton (4-0, 9-4) on Tuesday (April 6). Lingerfelt said Elizabethton and Sullivan East were picked to finish first and second in the league, and each received first place votes.
There’ll be no rest for the weary come Thursday. Unicoi will begin play in the Eastman Invitational in Kingsport with “extra” games against Greenbrier and Dobyns-Bennett on Thursday at Brickyard Park.
The Blue Devils will move to Domtar Park on Friday and Saturday for pool play games against Tennessee High, Knox Halls, Sullivan North and Greeneville.
“We’ve got a really tough schedule there,” Lingerfelt said. “It’s gonna be a long week; I know that. We’ll be glad to get Caroline back.”