BY NIC MILLER, Elizabethton Star
Elizabethton softball was back at home for Senior Night on Tuesday at Elizabethton High School as the Lady Cyclones took on Happy Valley.
It was an emotional night for the Lady Cyclones, as they are letting go of four seniors: Haley Fair, Kira Dillard, Hannah Edwards, and Autumn Hensley.
With the help of an all-around, tremendous hitting performance, the Lady Cyclones were able to suppress a late game rally by the Lady Warriors to take a 15-12 victory.
The Lady Cyclones came out looking crisp defensively in the first inning with pitcher Madisun Pritchard recording two strikeouts.
In the home half of the inning, Elizabethton looked just as good, if not better, hitting the ball. After a quick first out and a walk to the second batter, Dillard hit a line drive to left center field. Soon after, Kaylen Shell laced a single that brought two runs home. Hensley hit a single of her own bringing two more runs across the plate.
With Abby Holt on the mound replacing Olivia Absher, Happy Valley hoped a change of pitching would cool down the red-hot ‘Betsy softball offense.
Not much changed, however, with Edwards driving in two more runs and Maggie Johnson hitting an RBI single. The Lady Warriors were finally able to get out of the inning but not until Elizabethton had gone up 7-0.
Happy Valley still couldn’t find anything in the second with Pritchard sitting down two more batters on strikeouts.
In the bottom of the inning, the Lady Cyclones kept piling on the runs. After a bases-loaded walk, Johnson drove in two more runs along with Dillard who also brought two runners across the plate making it a 12-0 ball game at the end of two complete.
The Lady Warriors were able to get one run in the third as a result of an Absher double. However, that was the only run Happy Valley would get in the inning.
In a change of pace, the Lady Cyclones were held to only one run in their half of the inning making the score 13-1.
Happy Valley finally began to cut into the vast Elizabethton lead in the fourth inning scoring six runs.
The Lady Warriors Katie Havner contributed to three of those runs connecting on a double.
It seemed as if the roles were beginning to reverse as the Lady Cyclones were not able to score at all in the fourth making it a 13-7 ball game.
In the fifth inning, Pritchard sat down her fifth batter as the Lady Warriors once again couldn’t score.
With one out in the Lady Cyclone half of the inning, junior Marley Wagner stepped up to the plate with one runner on base. Doing what she does best, Wagner sent one into the road in deep centerfield giving Elizabethton two runs in the inning making it a 15-7 ball game.
The Lady Warriors had not given up however bringing three runs across in the sixth.
In unusual fashion, Elizabethton was sat down quickly in the home frame making it a 15-10 game.
With three outs to go in the game, it seemed as if Happy Valley was summoning a late-game rally.
However, the Lady Warriors could only bring two runs across home plate before being shut down by the Lady Cyclones bringing the game to an end with a score of 15-12 in the Lady Cyclones favor.
The festivities weren’t over after the final out though, as all four softball seniors were recognized and given gifts by their teammates.
When asked how it felt to be a senior on such an emotional night, Fair said “These have been the best four years of my life, and I would play this game with these people for the rest of my life if I could. It’s sad that it’s almost over for me, but I hope that I can help my team get through the district tournament and stay in the fight.”
The Lady Cyclones will be back in action at home next Monday as they take on the Unicoi County Blue Devils.