Just as chocolate and peanut butter come together as a tasty treat, so too does pitching and defense on a softball field.
On Monday afternoon the two came together in a big way — with a healthy sprinkling of timely hitting thrown in the mix — as Elizabethton dominated Sullivan North in an 8-1 Three Rivers Conference win.
Sophomore pitcher Lindsey Cunningham tossed a one-hitter and struck out seven in a dominating performance, and the middle of the Lady Cyclone lineup (three through six) came through with four extra-base hits and five runs batted in.
Shortstop Reazyn DeMoss hit a third-inning home run, while center fielder Ashley Dykes was 3-for-3 with three doubles, three runs scored and two RBIs. Catcher Caley Hodge, hitting in the fifth spot had a double, two runs scored and an RBI.
“(Ashley) was on fire and has been a hot hitter lately,” said Lady Cyclones head coach LeAnne Click. “She was really on it today. Lindsey pitched a great game and Emily Thornton closed it out, so it was a good day, a good win. We have a big week coming up with East coming in tomorrow and then Unicoi after that.
“We really want to be ready for East. That’s the game I am concentrating on right now.”
Sullivan North (3-5 TRC, 8-12 overall) got its only tally in the first when leadoff hitter Jessica Colley golfed a double to left and came around on a ground ball out to give the Lady Golden Raiders a 1-0 lead that was a short lived as a Reece’s Peanut Butter Cup.
In the last of the frame, Danielle Loving drew a walk to open the inning — and consecutive hits by Sophie Bremer and Cunningham brought home two runs and a 2-1 Lady Cyclones lead.
“I don’t think I hit real well today, but I felt strong pitching,” Cunningham said. “I just pitched and let my defense make the plays behind me. My fastball was really on and I felt that I could just throw it and my defense would back me up.”
A double by Dykes led off the second frame for EHS and she came around on an infield error as the Cyclones extended to a 3-1 advantage.
EHS made it a 5-1 game in the third when DeMoss crushed a delivery from Lady Raiders’ pitcher Shayla Fortner over the fence in left field. Hodge reached on an error and Dykes plated her with her second two-bagger of the contest.
The Cyclones put it away in the fifth, scoring three more runs with Hodge and Dykes each delivering RBI doubles. A fielder’s choice grounder by Casey Jones brought home the final run of the contest.
Cunningham meanwhile, was cruising along in the pitching circle, having struck out the side in the second. Cunningham set down eight in a row before Colley reached base in the third on the only miscue of the afternoon by ’Betsy.
“I have to stay strong for my team and myself,” said Cunningham. “The whole team played really well today. We hit and scored runs and didn’t make many errors. Errors always hurt you, but we fielded great today.”
From there Cunningham worked through the sixth inning setting down 10 consecutive North hitters. Emily Thornton pitched a scoreless seventh and EHS (13-5, 4-3 TRC) had its second win over the Raiders in a week’s time.
For the game, DeMoss was 2-for-3 with two runs and one RBI.
“Most of our conference losses came early on,” said Click. “Right now we are playing much better and I am excited about that. We play in the Tiny Day tournament this week also and I’m sure that will benefit the team.
“You can’t really simulate situations in practice and I’m sure they would much rather be playing games than practicing.”
Sullivan North 100 000 0 — 1 1 4
Elizabethton 212 030 x — 8 8 1
Fortner and Black. Cunningham, Thornton (7) and Hodge. W—Cunningham. L—Fortner. DP—SN 1. LOB—SN 0, EHS 3. HR—DeMoss. 2Bs—Dykes (3), Hodge, Colley.