KINGSPORT — A pair of poor performances on Field 3 at the Eastman Softball Complex kept Science Hill out of the round of 16 in the Eastman Invitational last year.
But the Lady Hilltoppers found redemption on Field 3 on Saturday night, scoring a 4-3 come-from-behind victory against Volunteer to advance to the final day of the tournament.
The fifth-seeded Lady Hilltoppers fell behind 3-0 before a four-run fourth inning allowed them to stave off elimination. Abbey Younger blasted a three-run homer to tie the game and the Lady Hilltoppers later went ahead for good on a dribbler up the middle.
“I was just waiting for us to start hitting and we finally did there a little bit,” Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins said. “Abbey hit the big one. It’s kind of like always — our team goes as our bats go.”
Volunteer was on the verge of adding to its lead in the top of the fourth when Ashley Lindholm roped a line drive down the right-field line. But Hannah Devotie was able to catch the ball, preventing the Lady Falcons pulling further ahead.
A few minutes later, Science Hill rallied to take the lead for good.
Lindholm scored a pair of runs for the 12th-seeded Lady Falcons and Kellie Kirk had a pair of hits. Alex Lawson and Kinzie Dixon each had an RBI single for Volunteer.
“You can’t fault the kids. We played our hearts out,” Volunteer coach Jackie Strickler said. “Give Science Hill the credit — they got them when they needed it.
“But it was a good tournament for us. It helped us.”
Science Hill wasn’t the only higher seed to stare down elimination in the round of 16. Top-seeded Daniel Boone survived a scare against 16th-seeded Lawrence County before escaping with a 5-4 victory.
The Lady Trailblazers got a two-run single from Kayla Smith that turned out to be the game winner after Lawrence County’s rally came up one run short.
Jessie Wheelock and Andrea Rogers each added an RBI for Boone, which nearly ended its 10th straight day of action with its first loss of the season.
“We struggled and I don’t know why, but we’re moving on,” Boone coach Rick Wagner said. “That’s what the name of the game is.”
“It’s just a matter of hanging in there right now. Tomorrow’s going to be a grueling day for all eight teams that make it.”
Boone will face No. 8 Tennessee High this morning after the Lady Vikings beat David Crockett 8-5. Keely Easterling had three RBIs for Tennessee High and Mackie Carr had three hits and drove in two runs.
Science Hill will face No. 4 Morristown East, which exploded for six runs in the first inning in a 7-2 victory over No. 13 Dobyns-Bennett.
It wasn’t the way the Lady Indians wanted to end the day, but the young squad will try to build on the fact that it came out on top in a pair of must-win contests to get out of pool play.
Cameo Waters came up huge in the final game of pool play, throwing seven shutout innings as D-B beat Honaker 3-0 to advance to the round of 16.
“I was real pleased to get here on Saturday night,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard said. “We’re getting better. The coaches are working real hard and the players are working real hard.”