ERWIN — The Big Blue locomotive keeps trudging along throughout the softball season.
Unicoi County (33-5) held off a three-run seventh inning effort by the Lady Grizzlies to score a 6-4 win and a ticket to a Region 1-AA softball championship bid Monday night at Lady Devil Diamond.
The Lady Devils will travel to Greene County on Wednesday to face the Greeneville Lady Devils, who defeated Elizabethton 2-1, in the other regional semifinal.
Defense played the role of the hero as the squad outlasted a barrage of runs from Grainger (33-15) late.
“I thought our girls played great defense tonight,” Lady Devil skipper Grady Lingerfelt said. “Tiffany’s tough for a sophomore. It was a new experience for her and I thought she battled well with the defense behind.”
Laughren (14-2) held a perfect game through the fifth inning - being back up from quick throw outs from the infield.
Runs came at a premium through the first three innings, until the Lady Devils got on the board with a sacrifice-fly RBI that gave the squad an early 1-0 advantage.
A pivotal moment came with the squad in the bottom of the fifth when Ashley Starnes would draw a walk to start off the inning.
Grainger scored two outs on the next two batters when Jessica Presser roped in a RBI triple to right field near the foul-line that brought across the second run of the contest.
“I thought it was fair,” Presser said about the hit. “I saw the umpire signal foul, then fair, so I just kept running.”
Grayson Goddard tacked on a RBI base hit, following up a picture-perfect bunt early in the contest.
The 7-8-9 batters attributed five of the six runs overall - Brooke Strother tacked on a two RBI double in the sixth, along with the RBIs from Presser and Goddard.
“They really came up big for us,” Lingerfelt said. “Jessica and Grayson do great in the midfield and Brooke had some nice throws at third base.”
Ashley Starnes popped in an RBI throughout the fifth inning to cushion the lead.
Strother led UCHS with a 3-4 effort while Presser and Goddard tacked on two hits.
Presser said her team is ready for the challenge Wednesday against the Greene Devils.
“This is the best defensive team we’ve had in my four years here,” she added. “We’re going to keep it up and look to get the win on Wednesday.”