ERWIN -- Unicoi County softball coach Grady Lingerfelt wasn’t bragging after his team defeated Science Hill 10-4 in Monday’s rain-shortened season-opener at the Lady Devils Diamond.
He was simply commenting on his team’s power.
“We got a lot of kids who can hit the ball out of the park, a lot of them,” he said. “We’ll hit several home runs (this season).”
The Lady Devils (1-0) got off a good start Monday as Tiffany Laughren hit two home runs and Cheyenne Delffs added another. The Lady Devils, who raced out to a 6-0 lead after two innings, had nine hits in five innings before the game was called.
The Lady ‘Toppers (0-1) showed some power as well. Starting pitcher Vanessa Elliott sent her own two-run shot sailing over the center field fence in the third inning, one batter after Megan DeVotie belted a double.
However, Science Hill was hampered by leaving eight runners stranded on base and by making three errors in the field.
“We just made too many mistakes throwing it, and a couple of bad decisions on plays,” Science Hill head coach Jerry Higgins said. “It will come. That’s why we always play them the first game. It kind of tells us where we’re at and where we need to work the kinks out.”
Laughren put Unicoi County up 1-0 in the first with a solo shot over left field. She added a two-run homer in the fourth after Science Hill had cut the margin to 6-3 in the third.
“It was just like any other night. I just felt my swing going on,” said Laughren, 2-for-3 with three RBIs. “It felt good, hitting those over, knowing it gave us a little cushion for the win.”
Delffs had a two-run shot in the second inning, capping off a five-run inning for the Lady Devils.
“It was a really good way to start off my senior season with a good win,” Delffs said. “Science Hill is a really good team and they beat us in the season-opener last year. But, they weren’t going to beat us this year.”
Kacy Silvers picked up the win, striking out nine batters and giving up four walks. She managed to escape bases-loaded situations by the Lady ‘Toppers in both the second and final innings.
“Kacy is a veteran pitcher,” Lingerfelt said. “She’s been through the wars and she’s pitched a lot of travel ball where you pitch all day and don’t quit for anything. The ball got slick, but she did quite well.”
Still, Science Hill wasn’t about to go down without a fight.
The Lady ‘Toppers were particularly productive in the middle of the lineup. Sam Bradley scored two runs, while Emma Martindale and Allison Poget reached base in each of their three at-bats. It included a RBI single for Poget in the third innings.
Unicoi County, which scored its final pair of runs off Destanie Hayes’ RBI single and Chelsea Gardner’s sacrifice fly, did nothing to dispute its role as Three Rivers Conference favorite.
The Lady Devils return their entire starting lineup from last year’s team which finished with 42 wins before losing to eventual state champion Corryton Gibbs in the Class AA sectionals.
Delffs said Unicoi County isn’t about to shy away from high expectations this season.
“I think this will be a very special year for us,” Delffs said. “We’re returning everyone from last year, so we’re going for a state championship this year.”
The Lady Devils are scheduled to play at Dobyns-Bennett today. Science Hill is slated to return to action Wednesday when it hosts Tennessee High in the Big Eight Conference opener for both teams.