Grainger (30-12) upended the homestanding Lady Blue Devils, 9-4, in a Region 1-AA semifinal contest. Grainger advanced to Wednesday’s Region 1-AA championship to play either Greeneville or Sullivan East.
Unicoi County’s season ended with a 35-10 record. The Lady Blue Devils had beat Grainger in the Regional Semifinal round in 2017, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011.
“Unicoi County is probably the toughest place to play in East Tennessee,” Grainger head coach Rusty Bishop said. “Grady (Lingerfelt) does a great job. I’ve coached nine years and played them six times here and they’ve ended our season five times. I told my coaches as a math teacher the law of averages would catch up. Luckily we had a couple of balls bounce our way early and some timely hits. We held them down until the sixth which is a pretty tall feat.”
“Some days it just isn’t your day,” Unicoi County head coach Grady Lingerfelt said. “We gave them everything. I think they had seven bloop hits, seeing eye balls that fell. It’s hard to overcome that.”
Lexis Skyes blooped a single into shallow left field in the top of the first. She then raced home on a Courtney Williams’ two-out single to the fence. Grainger added three runs in the fourth to build a 4-0 advantage.
An inning later Williams struck again with a leadoff home run. Four more runs came across to cap the Grainger scoring.
UNICOI COUNTY RALLY
Kiley Bennett was hit by a pitch with an out in the sixth inning before Bella Bogart drew a walk. That brought up Carly Kinsler who doubled to the right-center gap to produce the home team’s first two runs.
Allie Griffith made her last at-bat in Unicoi County count as she hit a home run. Chloe Powers followed with a single to right and went to third on a fielding error. Bennett grounded out as Powers scored the game’s final run.
“We battled through all the way to the end of the game,” Lingerfelt said. “The seniors knew it could have been their last game. We had a good year after losing six starters from last year’s team to go 35-10 is a good year.”
Emily Agee kept the powerful Unicoi County bats at bay. The pitcher worked deep counts that led to 12 strikeouts, but six of those strikeouts were with Lady Blue Devil runners in scoring position. She finished the complete game with four runs allowed, three earned, on five hits.
Agee went 2-for-5 with an RBI.
On the other side Griffith hurled a complete game as well.
“Allie threw her heart out and we made a couple of mistakes that ballooned on us,” Lingerfelt said about his senior pitcher.