Stellar pitching from Birchfield forces if-necessary game

Published 9:01 am Monday, May 13, 2019



KINGSPORT— The Cloudland Lady Highlanders arrived at Sullivan North High School on Thursday knowing that they’d need two wins to call themselves the District 1-A softball champions, and they did not shy away from the task.

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Up until Thursday, the Unaka Lady Rangers had appeared unbeatable scoring runs at will and putting in solid defensive outings.

But with elimination looming, Cloudland took the challenge and succeeded winning 11-3 in the first game of the championship tilt to force an if necessary game two.

Kailey Wilson started the game for the Lady Rangers coming off a win in the tournament on Tuesday versus University High.

She set her sights on finishing the job Thursday night. Things got started precisely how she would’ve hoped as she began the game quailing the attempts of the first three Lady ‘Landers batters.

Cloudland countered with Kenzie Birchfield who would take the pitching circle.

Unaka’s Sadie Shoun would get the bats going in the game with an infield single to short. After a fielder’s choice gone wrong, an error from the third baseman put Shoun across the plate making it 1-0 in favor of Unaka.

Wilson kept up her fiery start once again going four up and three down in the top of the second inning.

Birchfield would do some good pitching of her own retiring the side to finish off the second inning for Cloudland.

The Lady Landers finally got the bats going in the top of the third with Gracie Cook leading the way with a groundball single into center.

A rare error from Unaka shortstop, Madison Pierce, put Karah Fields on base. With two on, Jasmine Birchfield stepped up and hit a three-run blast to right center making the score 3-1.

Despite a triple from Lilie Kiser in the home half of the inning, the Lady Rangers couldn’t get much more offense going.

The fourth inning would spell more trouble for Unaka as Cloudland was ready to swing at anything that came at them.

An error to open the inning put Taylor Hicks on base. She was followed with back-to-back hits from Heaven Caraway and Krisi Bare.

A walk with the bases loaded would score Hicks.

Two more consecutive hits from the Lady Landers scored two more runs. The scoring would finally come to a close for the inning when Kaylen Fields blooped a single into right-center scoring two more runs and making the score 8-1.

The Lady Rangers looked prepared to answer when Taylor Shanks cranked a home run to right center, but Unaka couldn’t get the bats going after that.

The fifth inning was a defensive battle from both teams as the Lady Rangers turned to Sadie Shoun to try and finish the game. She successful retired the side facing only four batters, but Unaka once again struggled at the plate.

Two singles to start the top of the sixth inning from Leah and Jasmine Birchfield got the Lady ‘Landers once again in scoring position early.

A sacrifice fly would bring in a run before a double from Caraway would bring in another. The top half would finish 10-2 in Cloudland’s favor.

Unaka concluded their scoring in the bottom of the inning when Noelle Collins came home on a pitch the catcher had trouble handling.

The Lady Landers would add one more in the top of the seventh inning to make the final score 11-3 Cloudland.

The win set up by a terrific game on the mound from Kenzie Birchfield meant a true championship game followed immediately for the District 1-A championship.