Securing a sectional game… Lady Cyclones down Claiborne in regional semifinal

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 18, 2021

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When Claiborne County and Elizabethton met on Lady Cyclone Diamond Monday evening, there was a whole lot more at stake than just a regional final as the winner would assure themselves of a sectional contest as well.

The Lady Cyclones made the most of their home-field advantage as they took down the visiting Lady Bulldogs by an 8-0 score to earn a regional championship contest against the Greeneville Lady Greene Devils on Wednesday.

Greeneville took care of the Unicoi County Lady Blue Devils by a 14-4 score earlier in the day due to Unicoi Co. graduating on Monday evening.

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The story of this game followed the story of most Lady Cyclone games this season as junior Madisun Pritchard was ringing up Lady Bulldogs while her teammates were pounding the cover off the softball as Pritchard struck out a dozen Claiborne batters while the Lady Cyclones collected 10 hits in the contest.

After a scoreless first inning of action, the Lady Cyclones wasted little time in the bottom of the second jumping out front as head coach Ken Hardin’s team flipped the scoreboard three times.

Pritchard opened the frame with a single and Kallista Deprimo reached on an error by the Lady Bulldog third baseman.

A second consecutive error on Claiborne off a ball hit by Kenidy Harris allowed courtesy runner Dana Holsclaw to score. A sacrifice bunt by Mollie Johnson moved Deprimo and Harris up a bag.

Cheyenne Poiroux hit a hard grounder to the Claiborne pitcher which was bobbled allowing Deprimo to score and Poiroux to reach safely.

A Maely Ingram single scored Harris as the Lady Cyclones had built their 3-0 advantage.

Errors continued to plague Claiborne County as Maddie O’Quinn reached on an error and advanced to second base on another error. Pritchard hit a hard ground ball toward first that once again was bobbled allowing O’Quinn to race around and score to make it 4-0 EHS.

The Lady Cyclones added two more in the bottom of the fourth inning as Johnson reached on an error to lead off the frame.

Claiborne showed signs of getting out of the inning as they sat down the next two Lady Cyclone batters before Ingram singled to score Johnson with Ingram taking second on the throw home.

Ember Jensen picked up Ingram with a single as Elizabethton increased their lead to 6-0.

Elizabethton closed out their scoring in the bottom of the fifth when they tacked on two more runs.

With two outs, Johnson was in the mix again with a single. An error allowed Poiroux to reach once again as Johnson scooted around to third base.

Emma O’Quinn singled home Johnson and moved Poiroux to third base. A double from Ingram scored Poiroux and made it an 8-0 contest heading to the top of the sixth.

From there, Pritchard and the Lady Cyclone defense did the rest in keeping Claiborne off the board the rest of the way.

Ingram finished the day with a 3-for-4 performance with two RBIs. Jensen also had a multi-hit day going 2-for-4. Claiborne made nine errors in the contest.

Pritchard said that many hadn’t given the Lady Cyclones the chance to be in the position they are in being such a young team but the determination and belief in themselves has helped carried them to a shot at a regional title.

“We weren’t predicted to make it this far, but this team and their love for the game that they had is just unbelievable,” said Pritchard after the contest. “We came out and worked hard yesterday and we came ready to play today.

“It’s going to be a tough game (Greeneville) but I believe that we will come out and be ready to play.”

Coach Ken Hardin was proud of his team for forcing the issue with Claiborne County putting pressure on the visiting Lady Bulldogs resulting in the mistakes.

“It’s just our type of game,” Hardin said. “We have to put the ball in play and put pressure on people and it will come in the form of an error, it will come in the form of a base hit and we are going to run.

“I am going to get runners thrown out and that is just the way we play. If you put pressure on teams – that’s a good team that we just played. I saw them play three times and I knew it was going to be a fight coming in here and Madisun shut down a good hitting team. They scored 10 the other night on Greeneville.”

Hardin was asked how special it was for his team to be in the position it is with a regional championship on the line and the sectional berth.

“For this bunch and for all the young kids, it means the world to us,” Hardin commented. “After losing our season last year this is just so special to us. Somebody said this was the first time Claiborne had been in the region in a while and this is the first time we have been to the region in a long time after losing our season last year and we didn’t make it the year before.

“It’s big for us.”