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Boone-Unicoi showdown postponed again

Douglas Fritz • Apr 24, 2013 at 8:12 PM

ERWIN — Daniel Boone and Unicoi County have been ranked No. 1 and No. 2 throughout the softball season, but haven’t been able to get together to settle the issue on the field.

Wednesday was no different. Rain got the better of the two teams for the second time.

They will try again Monday (at Boone) and Tuesday (in Erwin). Both games are scheduled for 5 p.m.

Daniel Boone head coach Rick Wagner said he wants his team to take on Unicoi County. The Trailblazers are Class AAA and Unicoi County is Class AA, but these teams have developed a league-like rivalry.

“It is like a championship-type game when we play each other,” said Wagner. “There’s a lot of pride, and both teams are good.

“The good thing about it is, win or lose, you want to see where your program is. It will give us a good barometer going into the district tournament, and hopefully further than that. I’m kind of glad it got rained out and pushed to next week, because it will help us to play them before our district starts.”

Boone is 29-4 overall with losses coming against Knoxville-area teams Seymour and William Blount, and mid-state opponents Upperman and Cookeville.

The Lady Trailblazers haven’t lost to a Big Eight Conference opponent since 2011, and have won 32 straight league games — and also 48 of their last 49, with the only loss coming against Science Hill.

Boone can run the table in the Big Eight for the second straight season by beating last-place Sullivan Central today in Blountville.

Wagner doesn’t shy away from the winning streak like some coaches might choose to do.

“We feel good about it,” said Wagner. “I’ve been doing this since 2003, and I don’t remember anybody going undefeated in the league two years in a row.

“It’s kind of a pride thing. Numbers don’t mean a lot, but if you’ve got the conference wrapped up this gives you something to play for.”

Boone has been scoring more runs this season than Wagner anticipated. The Lady Trailblazers are averaging 7.1 runs per contest.

“I didn’t think we were going to score this year,” he said. “I knew we would play decent defense and have decent pitching. I thought the bunt game would be big. I had no idea the kids would hit like this.”

Included in the surprises are freshmen Jaclyn Jenkins (.467 average with 7 home runs and 52 RBIs) and Kaylin Conkin (.380, 3 HR, 19 RBIs).

Also producing are Kayla Sanders (.506 average with 4 HR, 36 RBIs), Jenna Carmody (5 HR, 26 RBIs), Haley Wagner (6 HR, 33 RBIs), Hannah Montoya (.494 on-base percentage), and Meredith Good (.447 on-base percentage).

After last year’s team hit 50 home runs, Boone has knocked 29 out of the park already this year.

And the Lady Trailblazers have shown a little more mental toughness, said Wagner.

“At the first of year I questioned whether this would be the type of bunch that would grind it out,” said Wagner. “But lately they’ve picked it up. When it comes to district tournament time, these girls are ready to play. They feel this is our time of year.”

One down note for Boone is knee problems for pitcher McKenzi Ferguson.

“We are not sure how it will play out,” said Wagner. “We are hoping to have at least her bat in the lineup come district time.”

Ferguson is 14-3 in the circle while Jenkins is 13-1. Ferguson is batting .364 on the season.

Meanwhile, Unicoi County is rolling along with a record of 22-5. The Lady Blue Devils were clipped locally by Science Hill and David Crockett, and the other losses were against Cookeville, Chattanooga Girls Preparatory School, and Knoxville Halls.

Unicoi is also undefeated in its league, the Three Rivers Conference, but still has some work to do as second-place Elizabethton visits Lady Devils Diamond today for a 5 p.m. showdown.

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