Elizabethton stubborn in all-star loss to Jonesborough

By Marvin Birchfield

   ERWIN--The post-season came to an end for the Elizabethton National League All-Stars, as the Jonesborough All-Stars pushed them to the limit in the final inning for a 12-11 victory in the 9/10 year-old district event.
   Elizabethton held the advantage the entire way until the end of the fifth inning, when the contest became tied at 11.
   Jonesborough did its job on defense in the final frame, and a base-winning hit by Shai Ann Cole gave the team the opportunity to go against Unicoi County in the championship round.
   "All the girls were first-year players and they did great," said Elizabethton coach Stacey Fleenor. "We've never had all of them together at a practice, and they hung in there until the very last inning."
   Things looked good early on for Elizabethton, which captured six runs in the top of the first.
   The first three runs crossed when Chelsea Vanover smacked a hit to right field to drive home Abigail Fleenor, Brittany Morefield and Taylor Mann.
   Vanover scored on a wild pitch, and passed balls brought in Haley Thacker and Blaise McDonald.
   Jonesborough only managed two runs in the bottom of the inning, with the first one coming on a base hit up the middle by Kellie Waycaster, scoring Brittany Gray.
   After a hit from Breana Brumit and an error on a throw to second-base, Jonesborough added its second run, and trailed 6-2.
   "We held onto the lead until the last inning, but I'm proud of them. It still feels like we won," said Stacey Fleenor. "I'm proud of all them and the parents for the support and good sportsmanship."
   A pitching change which brought Hankal to the mound to start the second frame seemed to help stabilize the defense, as no runs were given up during the top of the inning.
   "Our pitching carried it out for us, and then just strong, hard playing won it," said Jonesborough coach Billy Brumit. "They are all tough little girls and I just love them to death."
   Over the next several innings, Jonesborough continuously chipped away at the lead, as two runs crossed home during the second frame, with Kristen Trobough and Cynthia Hankal scoring.
   Elizabethton added two runs in the top of the third after capitalizing on a mistake from the mound, which scored Blaise McDonald and Kayla Frye.
   But it was Jonesborough coming right back with two runs in the bottom of the frame to cut deficit down 8-6 after three innings played.
   A throw from behind the plate to the mound enabled Vanover to score during the fourth, and a steal home after a wild pitch brought in McDonald.
   Waycaster led off with a huge in-the-park home run to right field in the bottom of the fourth, and Brumit added another score off a groundout by Rachael Williams.
   Elizabethton managed just one run to start the fifth, while a ground-out to first base by Gray drove in Samantha Davis to tie the contest.
   In the final frame, Jonesborough shut down Elizabethton at the plate, as a few more hits on the evening would have helped its efforts for a victory.
   The scene began to be heading for a showdown in an extra inning after Elizabethton retired the first two-batters, but a nice hit toward third-base brought home Christy Phillips for the game-breaker.
   "They played a good, hard game, and came out ready to beat us," said Brumit. "We had to dig down and find something, and we found it. We've got Unicoi Co. next, so now we've just throw strikes and play good defense."