Softball Roundup: Elizabethton advances past Happy Valley

Published 11:41 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2016

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For the second time in the District 1AA Softball Tournament, the Lady Cyclones and Lady Warriors met on the diamond, and like the first time, they gave fans and spectators their money’s worth.
In dramatic fashion, with the game tied at 4 in the bottom of the seventh, EHS senior Jordan Grindstaff connected on an RBI single to net teammate Maci West for the walk-run giving the Lady Cyclones a 5-4 win.
“I was kind of in slump, but the hit felt great coming off the bat,” said Grindstaff after Tuesday’s game. “It feels great.”
The way the game ended was definitely exciting for the crowd, but how the game got tied up was just as thrilling.
In the top of the seventh, with EHS leading 4-2, Happy Valley’s Emily Whitaker stepped up to the plate with teammate Kaitlyn Roberts waiting at first. Whitaker, who had already nailed a home run in the third, blasted a 2-run homer to tie things up 4-4.
“When she is at the plate you know something is going to happen,” Happy Valley head coach Bonnie Peters said. “When she stepped up, I saw it coming, and I am tickled to death for her.”
The Warriors got the jump on Elizabethton in the first inning, with senior Kalee Johnson getting on base with a double, before stealing third. Johnson came on to the house during an error to give the Lady Warriors a quick 1-0 lead.
However, the Lady Cyclones did not let Happy Valley’s edge stand too long. In the bottom of the first, the speedy Maci Herrmann reached first after being hit by a pitch, then stole second, before being brought around by an RBI single from teammate Lauren Brickey to tie things up at one heading into the second inning.
The second frame went scoreless, setting Happy Valley’s Whitaker up to blast her first home run of the game in the top of the third to give the Lady Warriors a 2-1 lead, a lead that would stand up until the fifth inning.
The bottom of the fifth frame saw the Lady Cyclones collect three runs to jump out to a 4-2 lead. In the fifth, EHS lead-off hitter Kennedy Richardson reached first with a single, before being pushed to second by a bunt from Maci Herrmann. Richardson came on home for the tying run off a RBI single from Abby McKinney. With two outs and runners at the corners, EHS’ Allison Riddle blasted a deep shot to center field, which was almost caught at the fence by Happy Valley’s Kaitlyn Roberts but was dropped allowing both McKinney and Brickey  to make their ways home.
“It was just a great ball game,” EHS head coach Ken Hardin said. “Nobody deserved to lose tonight. I know a lot of the kids from Happy Valley, and that is a special group over there.”
The Lady Cyclones were led from the mound by Kellie Cunningham, who pitched all seven innings. Cunningham finished the game with four strikeouts against seven hits.
For the Lady Warriors, which had defeated Sullivan East earlier in the night to advance into the semifinals, Johnson pitched her second full game of the evening. During her battle with the Lady Cyclones, Johnson had five strikeouts against five hits, giving her 21 Ks on the evening.
At the plate, EHS’ Richardson and Brickey had two hits on the night, with Richardson picking up a run and Brickey recording a run and an RBI.
For the Lady Warriors, both Sydney Puckett and Whitaker had two hits on the night, with Whitaker picking up three RBIs off her two home runs.
The Lady Cyclones will be back in action today as they take on Unicoi in the district championship at 6 p.m. at Sullivan South. Tuesday night’s win also ensured EHS a berth into the regional tournament. With the loss, Happy Valley’s season came to a close.
Happy Valley 4, Sullivan East 3 
Before taking on Elizabethton Tuesday, the Lady Warriors played a thriller against Sullivan East and came out ahead 4-3.
Tuesday’s contest, came down to a tenth inning, during which Happy Valley’s Kalee Johnson scored the game winning run when she stole third and came on home off a wild throw to put the Lady Warriors up 4-3. Happy Valley held the Lady Patriots at bay in the bottom of the tenth to win the game.
The Lady Warriors were led by the arm of Kalee Johnson, who worked for ten innings, during which she handed out 16 strike outs against eight hits.
Johnson finished the game with a hit and two RBIs, while Whitaker had two hits, a run and an RBI. Kaitlyn Roberts was efficient, going 3-of-4, while picking up a run.
District 1A Softball Tournament 
University High 8, Unaka 2
The Lady Ranger faced off with the University High Lady Buccaneers in an elimination game Tuesday, and when the dust settled the Lady Bucs came out ahead 8-2 to advance on the the district championship against South Greene.
Unaka held a 2-run lead up until the third after posting two runs in the first inning. In the first, Unaka’s Erika Potter brought home Sarah Hardin with an RBI triple, before being brought home herself by an RBI single from Katlyn Weaver.
The Lady Bucs picked up thier first run of the game in the third to make the game 2-1, before tying things up in the fourth.
U-H took the lead in the fifth with two runs putting them up 4-2, before they posted four runs in the sixth. The sixth frame was highlight by a 3-run homer from Ari Ramsaran.
The loss marked the end of the Lady Rangers season.

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