Results vary for local teams at Eastman Invitational

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 5, 2014 at 9:01 PM

KINGSPORT — It was a mixed bag of results for a pair of local teams at the Eastman Invitational softball tournament on Saturday.

Science Hill defeated Happy Valley 7-3 in an afternoon affair after suffering a particularly tough 4-3 loss to defending tournament champion Halls earlier in the day.

Blair Henry was the hero against Happy Valley with a three-run home run in the third inning. Vanessa Elliott scored two runs for Science Hill, which also had big production from Abby Higgins.

Emma Martindale picked up the win, giving up three hits, one a solo home run by the Lady Warriors’ Kenzie Davis.

Kalee Johnson suffered the loss for Happy Valley.

Science Hill head coach Jerry Higgins felt his team had an opportunity to go undefeated on the day, if not for one play in the field. The Lady ‘Toppers had a 3-0 lead over Halls with two outs in the second inning when the ball dropped between the shortstop and second baseman on an infield pop-up.

It gave the Red Devils the opening they needed.

They scored two runs off the play, and then added two more off a single by Alyssa Mabe.

It spoiled what had been a solid outing for starting pitcher Julie Wyse. Science Hill was in position to pull off the upset after Henry had a RBI single and Megan Guinn followed with a two-run single for a 3-0 lead in the top of the second.

Henry nearly gave the Science Hill the lead back in the third, when she hit a ball deep to right field after Megan Maupin had gotten on base.

Still, their head coach was wondering what could have been.

“We’ve lost eight games and I can reel them off,” Higgins said. “We lost 2-0 to Mt. Juliet and 3-0 to Dickson County when something similar happened in those games. Obviously, a pop fly in the infield and nobody takes charge of catching it.... Daniel Boone, we left runners on second and third with less than two outs in five different innings. Every one of our losses has been someone not taking charge. Until they do, their potential isn’t going to be known.”

Although Happy Valley came up short against Science Hill, the Lady Warriors were victorious earlier with an 8-1 win over J.I. Burton.

Brooke Simmons led the way for the Lady Warrior offense which scored eight runs off eight hits and left just one runner stranded. Simmons finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs, and was one of four HV players to get two hits.

The others were: lead-off Krisley Roberts, Kaylee Street and Sydney Puckett.

“They put the ball in play and we got to run the bases a little bit,” Happy Valley coach Mike Dorsey said. “We’ve got nine people who can battle and not be an automatic out. When you have that, you feel lucky.”

The Lady Warriors scored two runs in the second inning, but three in both the third and fourth to easily defeat the Raiders.

Roberts was stellar in the circle, giving up four hits to the Raiders.

“I expect her to be really valuable come tournament time,” Dorsey said. “Coming out of eighth grade, we were looking at her at being our next ace, but she’s had some injuries.”

Despite a nagging hand injury, Roberts was particularly effective with a change-up which often had the Burton batters reaching for the ball.

“When I was pitching a lot, that change-up was my main pitch,” Roberts said. “When they’re chasing it like that, it makes me feel good to make them look silly.”

Among the other schools, University High and Unicoi County were unbeaten in their early games.

The Lady Bucs edged Union County 7-5 and then handed Tennessee High an 8-1 defeat. They saved their best for Pendleton, Ky. scoring 12 runs in the first inning and holding a 12-0 lead in the second inning.

Unicoi County, which has dominated the Eastman Invitational in recent years, defeated Sullivan South 4-0 and followed up with a 9-1 win over South-Doyle. The Lady Devils added a 10-4 victory over University Heights Academy later.

Daniel Boone went 3-1 in Saturday pool play with wins over Knox Carter, Johnson County and Richlands, Va. Greenbrier handed the Lady ’Blazers their only loss, an 8-1 setback.

David Crockett scored a 7-3 win over Knox Karns, but suffered losses to Macon East and Murfreesboro Oakland. At press time, the Lady Pioneers were in a scoreless tie of a late game against Kingston.

Pool play was still going on at press time with the championship round to begin Sunday morning.

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