Lady Cyclones put away Pigeon Forge

Forge rematch with Unicoi County, gain spot in sectional

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR Staff

   PIGEON FORGE--The Elizabethton Lady Cyclones are a coach's dream: They are playing their best ball in the postseason.
   In another must-win situation, the local unit took it to another favored team when they blanked the District 2-AA champion and homestanding Pigeon Forge Lady Tigers 4-0 at Centennial Park in the Region 1-AA semifinal.
   "It was a good win," said Elizabethton coach Ken Hardin. "We played good in the field and got timely hits. Our pitching was good."
   The Lady Cyclones got big defensive plays to hold back the Lady Tigers early on before breaking out with a three-run fourth inning. The unit added another score in the sixth and swept the lineup in the seventh.
   It will mark the first state sectional appearance for the Lady Cyclones, who first will play in the Region 1-AA championship on Wednesday at Unicoi County. Game time is 5 p.m.
   Unicoi County defeated Rutledge 8-1 on Monday.
   Elizabethton opened up on offense in the first with a hit from Kristie Keys. The Lady Cyclones also got on with an error in favor of the bat of Abbie Jenkins in the second inning, but neither were able to score.
   One of the biggest defensive plays of the day for the Lady Cyclones came in the top of the second when Pigeon Forge's Haley Johnson singled, advanced to second on an error and made her way to third base.
   However, Keys showed her rocket arm in the outfield, launching one towards Tia Nave at third base to record the out.
   In what could've been a runner in scoring position, the first chance for a Pigeon Forge score was scratched.
   "Kristie Keys was big in the field for us. Her big throw to third to open the second inning gave us a little momentum," Hardin said.
   Elizabethton got its offense going in the fourth inning when Katie Hubbard was struck with a Julie Poston pitch.
   Tia Nave singled behind her and moved both runners to scoring position.
   Jenkins stepped up with a big fielder's choice play, scoring Hubbard to give the Lady Cyclones the first lead of the game. The team would not look back.
   Later in the inning with two outs, Whitney Lyons delivered a huge two-run hit into center field, moving around to third on an error.
   Added Hardin: "Whitney Lyons stepped up big when she got that hit."
   The Lady Tigers responded in the bottom of the inning with singles from Jessica McCarter and Haley Johnson. Chelsea Oliver walked to load the bases for Jocelyn Price, who hit into a third out.
   The Lady Cyclones almost got rolling again in the fifth with a pair of singles from Hubbard and Nave, but were slowed down until the sixth.
   Jenkins singled and advanced on a wild pitch to open the frame before Mary Edgar sliced a single into left-center field to give Elizabethton a 4-0 edge.
   The Lady Cyclones finished off the job defensively, despite an error in the field to advance Johnson to second for the Lady Tigers.
   Edgar made four of the final six outs with her catches in the field to help Elizabethton advance to the title game for the first time in school history.
   Jessica Robinson took the victory on the mound over Pigeon Forge's Poston.
   Robinson only gave up four hits, two of which came to Johnson for the Lady Tigers, and struck out four. Poston gave up nine Elizabethton hits with only two strikeouts.
   Nave and Keys led Elizabethton with two hits in the game, while Jenkins was the only Lady Cyclone to reach a base in each of her at bats.