The Lady Cyclones’ No. 9 hitter, Maggie Johnson, stroked a two-run fourth-inning single to give her team a lead it would not relinquish in a 9-5 victory over Grainger in the Region 1-AA semifinals at Elizabethton’s field Monday night.
Improving to 25-13, the Lady Cyclones set the stage for yet another battle with Unicoi County. The teams will meet for the sixth time this season with the Region 1-AA championship on the line Wednesday. Elizabethton, which has beaten Unicoi four times in five tries, will play host for the game that is set for a 6 p.m. start.
Unicoi (37-9) earned its spot with a come-from-behind 8-6 win over Greeneville. Both Unicoi and Elizabethton also earned spots in Friday’s sectional round, where a berth in the state tournament will be at stake.
Answering the challenge
Grainger got a two-run homer off the bat of Emily Agee to take a 2-0 lead in the top of the third inning.
But the Cyclones got rolling in the fourth. Hannah Edwards drove in a run with an RBI grounder, and the inning could have ended when Bailey Creasy hit a dribbler back to the pitcher with two outs. However, Agee couldn’t field the ball and runners were at the corners. Creasy stole second base, and Johnson delivered the hard grounder to center field to plate two runs.
“The pitch was a little inside, and I just kept my hands in and went through like we do in the cage when we work on it,” said Johnson, who had a big smile on her face while standing on first base. “It felt amazing (to put the team ahead). It was really nice to do.”
Head coach Ken Hardin said, “She’s just a sophomore. The kid is coming along for us.”
Breaking it open
Elizabethton struck for four runs in the fifth inning. Lauren Brickey got it started with an RBI single. Creasy, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, capped it off with a two-run double to make it 7-2.
Ramsey Thomson gave the Lady Grizzles a fighting chance with a three-run homer over the left field fence in the top of the sixth inning.
Brickey finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs. She also got the win in the circle, going the distance and striking out nine.
Maci West added two hits.
“It will be a battle,” said Hardin. “It always is. We will give them everything we’ve got, and they will give us everything they’ve got.”