Beating the Lady Grizzlies in the Region 1-AA softball semifinals for the fourth straight season, Unicoi rolled to a 17-2 five-inning victory Monday at Lady Devils Diamond.
Improving to 38-9, Unicoi moved into Wednesday’s championship game at home against Greeneville with a start time of 5:30 p.m. The Lady Greene Devils earned their spot with a 10-0 win over Elizabethton in five innings.
Both Unicoi and Greeneville (28-5) also earned spots in Friday’s sectional round.
“That’s huge,” said Unicoi head coach Grady Lingerfelt. “I would love to get to go (to the state) again, but I’m not looking for one minute past the next game.”
The Lady Blue Devils built an 8-1 lead through three innings, and then really exploded in the fourth inning. They totaled nine runs on 11 hits with line drive after line drive.
“We hit it good today,” said Lingerfelt.
In the middle of the assault, Destinie Hayes launched a grand slam, and Cierra Jackson followed two batters later with a two-run bomb.
Hayes said she got a hold of a high fastball.
“I hit those well,” said Hayes. “It felt good going off the bat.”
Whatever pre-game nerves the Lady Blue Devils may have had were gone early in the game, said Hayes.
“We were very nervous, but once the game started getting on it went away and we calmed down,” said Hayes.
Unicoi struck early, getting four runs in the bottom of the first inning. The Lady Blue Devils turned three walks and a hit into the big inning, and Destinie Hayes had an RBI single.
Brooke Strother pushed the advantage to 6-1 in the bottom of the second with a two-run, two-out single. Haley Webb added an RBI single as part of a two-run third inning.
Meanwhile, Tiffany Laughren was in control in the circle. She went the distance, allowing four hits and two runs with no walks and seven strikeouts.
“She pitched well, and hit her spots well,” said Lingerfelt. “She’s going to get better.”
Strother finished with three hits and three RBIs. Laughren, Webb, Cassie Foster, Grayson Goddard and Kaylee Nicholson each had two hits for the Lady Blue Devils — who finished with 16 hits.
Lingerfelt said the matchup with Greeneville should be another dandy. Unicoi defeated Greeneville 1-0 in nine innings in the Tiny Day Classic a couple of weeks ago.
“It will be another knock-down drag-out battle,” said Lingerfelt.
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