E-town girls snatch state berth

By Travis Brown
STAR STAFF
tbrown@starhq.com

   The comeback is complete, and the Elizabethton 13-14 year-old softball all-stars are state bound.
   After falling into the losers bracket earlier in the tournament, the young ladies from E-town completed the improbable Monday night as they polished off the Unicoi County all-stars by an 11-5 score.
   Walks and errors were the name of the game Monday as Elizabethton forced Unicoi to beat them. Committing only one error and issuing only one free pass over the seven-inning contest was unmistakably the margin of victory.
   Unicoi, on the other hand, simply could not manage to limit mistakes as it committed seven errors and walked eight hitters en route to eight ugly unearned runs.
   Unicoi had some chances and they came early and often, but despite collecting 12 hits in the contest it could not score the knockout blow early.
   After stranding two baserunners in the top of the first, Unicoi got on the board in the top half of the second. Lynsey Canady took an infield hit and came around to score on a Marley Cutler single. The lead would not last long, however.
   In the bottom half of the second Elizabethton drew even as Kendall Blackston took a free pass and came around to score thanks to a couple of wild pitches. Unicoi soon re-seized the lead in the top of the third thanks to a slew of hits.
   Singles by Lauren Hopson, Sarah Bullen and Chelsea Stephen garnered one run on a sac fly by Canady. The bases loaded with one out was only good for one run and Elizabethton was pumped up due to some solid defensive play.
   Unicoi again tacked on insurance in the top of the fourth as Hopson's double brought in leadoff hitter Alicia Engle to put Unicoi up 4-1. Another run in the sixth marked the extent of Erwin's offensive effort.
   Would it be enough? The answer started taking place in the bottom half of the fourth as Mary Edgar and Lana Blevins reached on errors and came around to score, cutting the lead to one.
   After retiring Unicoi in order in the top of the fifth, Elizabethton shelled the Devils in the home half, posting six runs on some savvy baserunning and a gift or two from the visitors.
   The first three hitters, Jessica Robinson, Ryann Musick and Megan Heaton, all reached base thanks to charity, and came around to score on singles by Edgar and Blevins. Mikael Oliver would round out the scoring as she came home on a wild pitch to give Elizabethton a commanding 9-4 lead.
   Unicoi got one back in the top half of the sixth but E-town answered with another pair of runs in the bottom of the inning to wind up the tournament.
   After retiring Unicoi in order in the 7th, Elizabethton celebrated the District 5 title beneath a fireworks display.
   Elizabethton manager Teresa Musick was appreciative of the tournament officials and proud of her club.
   "They've been a good host," she said. "These girls played as a team and they kicked it in when we needed it most. We're so proud of them."
   Good luck ladies. Next stop is the state tournament in Dandrige.