ELIZABETHTON -- Science Hill got the best of an old rival for its 20th softball win of the season on Monday evening.
The Lady ‘Toppers scored four runs in the top of the first inning and parlayed it into a 5-2 win at Elizabethton.
Vanessa Elliott and Allison Poget each ripped RBI doubles in that first inning, which saw Lady ‘Toppers score another run off an error and a fourth run when Casie Gump was hit by a pitch with bases loaded.
Science Hill head coach Jerry Higgins added it all started when lead-off batters Hannah and Megan Devotie got on base with a walk and a bunt single.
“The top of the first really set the stage,” Science Hill head coach Jerry Higgins said. “They walked one twin, and the other twin scored off an error. Hannah’s on-base percentage is way up there, even if her batting average is not. Her on-base is up next to .500 and that’s what you want from your lead-off.”
Science Hill improved to 20-12 on the season, while Elizabethton fell to 18-9.
For the second day in a row, the Lady Cyclones struggled to hit the ball and score runs. They were held to just one run a day earlier against Sullivan East and had only one hit heading into the sixth inning on Monday.
“I’m trying to figure it out,” Elizabethton coach Lee Ann Click said. “Honestly, like a lot of teams which have good hitters, we struggle with the off-speed stuff. Yesterday, we struggled with the off-speed, and I’m trying to get it because we are a good hitting team. I don’t know if we’re just out of it right now.”
Science Hill starter Emma Martindale was part of the reason the Lady Cyclones were out of it. She gave up just one hit in four shutout innings before giving way to Elliott.
On the flip side, the Lady ‘Toppers had little trouble hitting the ball early, as well as taking advantage of a pair of Elizabethton miscues.
“We were seeing the ball really well today, and our bats were on the first couple of innings,” Poget said. “I think we really performed as a team. It’s an honor to come up here and win. They’re a powerhouse in the region, so it’s really good to get a win against them.”
In the third inning, Jordan Rush crushed a home run that sailed well over the left field fence for a 5-0 Science Hill lead. Although the senior catcher has hit the ball hard, it was her first home run of the season.
“I just saw a good pitch and I decided to go for it,” Rush said. “I was expecting to land right in front of the fence because I’ve kind of been unlucky. It went over and it was my first one so I was excited.”
Elizabethton’s bats finally came to life in the sixth inning as Lindsey Cunningham led off with a single, and after she advanced to third base on a passed ball and wild pitch, Caley Hodge followed with a RBI single.
The rally was halted when Reazyn DeMoss hit a dribbler towards second base, originally ruled a hit, but later changed to a runner’s interference call against the Lady Cyclones.
Cunningham provided the final run in seventh with a RBI double to score Destiney Poiroux, but Click said her team was in too deep of a deficit.
“That first inning, we made a couple of errors which cost those runs,” she said. “Other than the home run, it would have been a tie ballgame. I’ve got to get them back to where we were at. Of course, we played a bunch of days straight so we’ve not had the practice.”
Both teams return to league play today.
The Lady Cyclones head to Sullivan East for a Three Rivers Conference game, while the Lady ‘Toppers host Volunteer in a Big Eight Conference contest.
Science Hill’s coach believes playing a tough non-conference schedule helps both teams prepare for the league games.
“That’s why we play teams like Elizabethton and Unicoi,” Higgins said. “It helps us and it helps them too. Playing quality people that’s where it’s at.”