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Lady Cyclones rally twice to claim district title

Douglas Fritz • May 10, 2018 at 10:24 PM

Elizabethton lost to Unicoi County in the winners’ bracket final, and trailed the Lady Blue Devils in both games in the championship round.

But when the dust settled, the Lady Cyclones had the District 1-AA title in their hands.

Hannah Edwards’ line-drive single to right field in the bottom of the sixth inning gave Elizabethton a 3-2 lead, and pitcher Lauren Brickey made it stand up. She retired all 14 batters she faced in 4 2/3 perfect innings of relief, and the Lady Cyclones earned their second straight district championship Thursday night on their own field.

The Lady Cyclones forced the if-necessary game with a 9-2 decision in game one.

“It was a great game when Unicoi beat us the other night,” said Elizabethton head coach Ken Hardin. “But the girls took it, stood up, and really did something special tonight.

“It’s a battle every time we play Unicoi. I don’t think we are ever out of a game. We’ve proven that time and time again.”

The Lady Cyclones (23-13) earned home-field advantage for Monday’s Region 1-AA semifinal against either Greeneville or Grainger.

Unicoi County slipped to 36-9 and will travel Monday to play the District 2-AA champion.

Herrmann’s heroics

With her team trailing 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Macie Herrmann stepped to the plate with two outs and runners on first and second. She ripped a hard grounder down the left field line, which was ruled fair by the home-plate umpire. Two runs scored and the game was tied.

“It was definitely an inside pitch, and that’s my favorite pitch,” said Herrmann. “I turned on it, and it felt good.”

Herrmann said she didn’t know if the ball was fair.

“I didn’t care, I was just running,” said Herrmann.

A video of the play is available on www.facebook.com/dfritzjcpress/

Edwards’ heroics

In the bottom of the sixth, Edwards hit a roped single to right field to score Haley Fair from second base for the eventual game-winner.

“I was thinking about getting Haley Fair home,” said Edwards. “I didn’t care how I got her there. I wanted to win for my team. I didn’t know if (the right fielder) was going to catch it. My head was down and I was running as hard as I could.”

Standing on first base, Edwards enjoyed the moment.

“I had an adrenaline rush,” she said. “All I could think to do was look at my teammates and cheer as loud as I could because it was a team thing.”

Brickey in relief

Kellie Cunningham, who got the win in game one, also started the second game in the circle. She was touched for two runs as Halie Padgett and Ashtan Vance collected RBI hits in the second inning.

But Brickey came to the circle in the third inning and slammed the door as Unicoi County did not manage a baserunner against her. She struck out three.

“That was a lot of heart,” said Hardin. “She came in and threw great.”

The MVP

Maci West was chosen as the tournament’s most valuable player. She had a stunning four homers and 10 RBIs in five games.

Leaders

Kaylen Shell and Maggie Johnson paced the Cyclones at the plate with two hits apiece.

For Unicoi County, Allee Griffith pitched well in a losing cause. She allowed seven hits and three runs with three strikeouts and one walk.

All-tournament team

Joining West on the team from Elizabethton were Cunningham, Fair, Herrmann and Brickey. For Unicoi County, Tanya Chavez, Rylee Stiltner and Halie Hawkins were chosen.

All earning honors were Sullivan East’s Chelsea Sams, Kylee Wolfe and Jana White. Happy Valley’s Calli Davis and Olivia Kelly and Johnson County’s Hannah Brooks were also picked for the team.

Elizabethton 9, Unicoi County 2

Trailing 2-0, the Lady Cyclones responded in a big way.

Maci West clubbed a two-run homer to get things started in the fourth inning. Then in the fifth, Lauren Brickey delivered a two-run double to make it 4-2. Haley Fair followed with an RBI single to make it 5-2.

In the seventh inning, Elizabethton broke things open by scoring four more times.

Fair had a big night at the plate, collecting four hits and driving in three runs. Brickey finished with three hits. Kaylen Shell, Macie Herrmann and Maggie Johnson each had two hits.

Kellie Cunningham went the distance in the circle for the Lady Cyclones, giving up two first-inning runs but nothing else. She allowed eight hits, just five after the first inning.

For Unicoi County, Halie Hawkins and Rylee Stiltner each had two hits. Sydney Miller and Halie Padgett each had an RBI double. 

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