BY NIC MILLER, Elizabethton Star
BLUFF CITY— The Elizabethton Lady Cyclone softball team was back in action Thursday night at Sullivan East High School as they kicked off the District 1-AA softball tournament against the Sullivan Central Lady Cougars.
Elizabethton was hoping to get off on the right foot and secure a first-round win in the tournament.
Through the first five innings, it seemed as if this game would go down to the last at-bat. Towards the end of what had been a close affair, the Lady Cyclones were able to pull away from Central and win by a huge margin in the bottom of the sixth inning.
In the very first frame of the game, the Lady Cougars looked as if they had something brewing early.
But with the help of Lady Cyclone starting pitcher Madisun Pritchard, Central wasn’t able to bring any runners across the diamond.
Elizabethton got things rolling early as Maggie Johnson hit a single which brought her to second base as a result of a Lady Cougars error.
Johnson would eventually come around to score as Pritchard hit a single of her own to left field. The Lady Cyclones were ahead early holding a 1-0 lead over Central.
The second inning brought with it another stellar defensive performance by Elizabethton only allowing one runner to reach base in the half-inning.
The Lady Cyclones were able to score once again after senior Hannah Edwards came across the plate as a result of another Lady Cougar error. Up by two after the second, the Lady Cyclones were looking to take control of this game.
In the third, Central was able to get something started as Courtney Willis hit a solo shot to right field.
This would be all the Lady Cougars could muster as the side was retired shortly after.
The momentum gained on the offensive side by Central carried over into the home half of the inning as Elizabethton’s excellent offensive performance was finally put to a momentary halt leaving the score at 2-1 in favor of the Lady Cyclones.
The Lady Cougars were able to do it again in the fourth as Alexa Chandler hit a home run of her own to knot the game at two.
The Lady Cyclones were able to answer back as senior Kira Dillard was able to hit a single to right field that brought Johnson across the plate once again.
After a lead-off hit by the Lady Cougars in the fifth, catcher Haley Fair was able to shift the momentum by gunning down the runner trying to steal second base.
This set the tempo for the inning as Central was put away quickly afterward.
In the bottom of the inning junior Marley Wagner was able to hit a shot to center field that went past the outfield bleachers into a row of cars making the game a 4-2 affair.
The sixth inning was the same for the Lady Cougars as they were sat down in three quick outs. After trading blows with Central for five innings, the Lady Cyclones had enough bringing across eight runs in the inning.
A bases-loaded walk by the Central pitcher started the barrage which was followed by a Kaylen Shell single that brought two more Lady Cyclones across to score.
Fair, who was injured during her previous at-bat, dug deep to hit a single that brought across another Elizabethton runner.
The Lady Cyclones were passing the torch from one batter to another as Wagner, Edwards, Kallista Deprimo, Johnson, and Maddie O’Quinn also recorded RBI’s in the inning.
O’Quinn would be the final batter as the umpires called a stop to the slugfest at a 12-2 decision in the bottom of the sixth inning.
When asked about how this win sets the tempo for the rest of the tournament, Lady Cyclone head coach Kenny Hardin said, “We just got to play. We’re banged up—Haley (Fair) got hit pretty hard tonight and with Autumn (Hensley) out it’s tough, but we have the momentum and we’ve been playing well so we’ve got a shot and we’re gonna give it everything we’ve got.”
The Lady Cyclones were back at Sullivan East Friday night for their second-round game against the top-seed Unicoi County Lady Blue Devils.