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Elizabethton unable to deny Unicoi County

Gene Renfro • Updated May 8, 2018 at 10:45 PM

ELIZABETHTON—Elizabethton took both regular-season meetings against Unicoi County, but the Lady Blue Devils held off the Lady Cyclones 6-5 in the District 1-AA softball winners’ bracket final Tuesday.

Afterward, Happy Valley edged Johnson County 4-3 in an eight-inning losers’ bracket game.

With the result, Unicoi County advanced to the district championship slated for Thursday at 5:30 p.m. and secured a Region 1-AA spot.

“The law of averages tells you that you have to win one once in a while,” Unicoi County head coach Grady Lingerfelt said about the victory over Elizabethton. “We were fired up and move on in the tournament. I think they played well. I’m really proud of them.”

Elizabethton moved into today’s losers’ bracket final, set for 7 p.m. Happy Valley and Sullivan East meet in the losers’ bracket semifinal at 5:30.

“We played a good ball game there,” Elizabethton head coach Ken Hardin said. “They had a couple of flairs get down and they hit the ball hard, too. We made the plays, but had a couple of balls get down that one inning. The kids didn’t quit. We actually got the tying and winning run on base. We just didn’t get the big hit at the right time.”

Unicoi County took the lead with a blast and some bloop hits in the sixth. Ashton Vance hit a home run over the fence in left with one out to make the score 4-3 at that point.

After one of the Lady Blue Devils’ 14 fly-ball outs, Halie Hawkins placed a double down the right-field line. Rylee Stiltner followed with a double that fell in shallow center field for the RBI and the 5-3 advantage. Stiltner went 3 for 4 in the contest while Hawkins was 2 for 3 and scored twice as Unicoi County pounded out a dozen hits.

Grace Ann Clark provided an insurance score an inning later with a sharp RBI single up the middle that allowed Halie Padgett to score. Clark finished 2 for 4 while Padgett also had two hits.

Down two runs, the Lady Cyclones had a chance late. Macie West capped her 3-for-3 game off with a home run to lead off the seventh. A fielding error followed by a fielder’s choice that did not record an out put Haley Fair and Kira Dillard on base with no outs. Padgett then was able to retire the next three in order to end the game.

Padgett scattered 10 hits with three strikeouts, two walks and a hit batter. She also left a dozen Lady Cyclones stranded on base with eight in scoring position. Lauren Brickey struck out a pair and issued a walk for the Lady Cyclones as both pitchers went the distance.

Macie Herrmann drove in a pair of teammates with a single up the middle in the fourth to give the home side the 3-1 advantage. The score was tied at 3-3 after Unicoi’s fifth inning as Hawkins and Sydney Miller both scored.

Tanya Chavez was credited with an RBI on a fielder’s choice with the bases full before Halie Padgett produced a two-out RBI single.

Chavez tied the contest an inning earlier with a home run that carried out with ease. Before that, Kaylen Shell had a RBI single to push around Baylee Creasy in the second.

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