Those kids keep getting the job done… Lady Cyclones take TRC regular-season title with another late-game rally

Published 11:35 pm Thursday, April 29, 2021

Before the season started and his group of very young but talented ladies began putting the rigorous work in that Cyclone head coach Ken Hardin and his coaching staff expects from their Cyclone teams – Hardin suspected that he had something very special and was looking down the road to what could be on the Lady Cyclone Diamond.

However, little did Hardin know that this team would gel as quickly as they did and these young ladies proved Hardin to be right just a season before he expected it to happen.

On Thursday evening on the field that Hardin loves to prep in advance for a game, the coach got a highlight-reel catch from his sophomore centerfielder Cheyenne Poiroux with the visiting Unicoi County Lady Blue Devils who were ready to blow the game open already leading 1-0 and turned the two-out, grand-slam saving, over-the-fence catch to lit a fire under the Lady Cyclones that carried them to a 3-1 win.

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In the process, the Lady Cyclones captured the 2021 regular-season title, home-field advantage throughout the 2021 District 1-AA softball tournament, and all the momentum needed to continue to encourage the maturing of the talented Lady Cyclones.

The Lady Cyclones were a little flat early but the catch by Poiroux seemed to settle Elizabethton who quickly turned the game around in their favor.

Elizabethton made the comeback with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning.

Kenidy Harris got the party started when she struck the softball hard for a single to center field. Hannah Morgan came in as a courtesy runner for Harris and as luck would have it, Poiroux had a bat in hand.

Poiroux promptly delivered a double that chased Morgan home all the way from first base to tie the contest at 1-1.

Another of Hardin’s young players, Emma O’Quinn stepped up and followed suit with a double of her own to center allowing the speedy Poiroux to circle third and come sliding in behind the Unicoi catcher for the go-ahead run, 2-1.

An error on a ball hit of the end of the bat in the infield allowed the cat-like Maely Ingram to reach first on an error and advanced O’Quinn to third base.

Junior Maddie O’Quinn put a ball just out of reach of first baseman Carolina Podvin that allowed Ingram to race home to make it a 3-1 contest.

Madisun “The Kid” Pritchard took care of business in the top of the sixth inning for the Lady Cyclones as the fireballing junior set the Lady Devils down one-two-three backed up by first baseman Kallista DePrimo who made the first two outs on a pop fly and a slow grounder to first before Pritchard mowed down the third out with a strikeout.

A one-out single by shortstop Ember Jensen went to the wayside in the bottom of the sixth inning as Jensen was caught a little too far off first base on a popped-up bunt attempt by Mollie Johnson as the Lady Cyclones needed only three outs to take the title.

After a single to open the inning, Pritchard and her defense went to work to get the next three Unicoi County batters out to take the huge win.

Pritchard picked up win number 18 from the pitching circle while recording 11 strikeouts in the contest to move her strikeout total to 160 for the season.

She also picked up a double at the plate.

But without the play of Poiroux, the game could have been a completely different outcome.

“I was getting anxious because we had two outs, bases loaded, and I was like this was a power hitter and I need to be ready,” stated Poiroux. “I charged forward and then it was behind me and I just started busting it to get to the fence as fast as I could before it got there.

“Once we zone in, it’s ballgame for us. But it’s up to us to get that.”

Hardin said that it just seems like no matter what the circumstance, this team just finds a way to get the job done.

“We were down by one to Crockett the other night and we got them together and told them they were a good team,” said Hardin. “It was the same scenario here tonight. The wind got us a little early and got them too. It took a couple of hits away from them and a couple of hits from us as well.

“This team is just amazing. Just a bunch of babies out here and I don’t mean that in a bad way, I just mean they are young. We have no stars, we just have nine to ten contributors every night.”