By Rick Sheek
It’s a longshot for Elizabethton to dial in Unicoi County in the Three Rivers Conference softball race, but the Lady Cyclones are doing their part to at least nail down a runner-up finish.
Elizabethton held off visiting Sullivan East 7-6 on Tuesday. The Cyclones (14-5, 5-3) thus took two out of three from the Patriots (15-15) this spring.
“Each team I think in the conference has been up and down, and up and down,” Elizabethton coach LeAnne Click said. “It’s good to play a good game, to play a team at a good level. I think it will get us ready for Unicoi as well.”
The Cyclones and Blue Devils clash on Thursday.
Elizabethton carried a 7-6 advantage into the seventh inning. East had the tying run on third base before Lindsey Cunningham recorded the strikeout to decide the outcome.
Cunningham scattered seven hits and yielded three earned runs. She struck out five, walked five and hurled two wild pitches in the rainy conditions.
Caley Hodge and Ashleigh Dykes each batted 2 for 3. Sophia Bremer and Cunningham each went 2 for 4.
The Patriots’ Angel Trent was roughed up for 11 hits. She allowed five earned runs and fanned one.
East’s Brittany Scott went 2 for 3.
Elizabethton surged to a 3-0 advantage in the first inning. Bremer clubbed a run-scoring double, before runners crossed on a pair of errors.
Ashlyn Douglas’ run-scoring double in the second cut the deficit to 3-1. Elizabethton’s Emily Dugger doubled that inning, but was gunned down attempting to reach third.
Scott doubled in the third, but was stranded. Cunningham doubled, but never advanced in the bottom half.
East knotted the affair in the fourth. Ashlee Minor bunted in a score and Karisa White plated a run.
In the bottom half of that inning, Dykes singled. She stole second and third base, but was stranded.
The Patriots went up 4-3 in the fifth. Scott singled, advanced on a Trent single and later crossed on an error.
The side was retired when Dykes gloved a fly in center field, fired to Hodge at catcher and the double play was turned by third baseman Danielle Loving.
Loving led off the bottom half with a solo home run, her seventh shot of the season, to tie it up. Cunningham again doubled.
Dykes unleashed a two-run double. Casey Jones belted a run-scoring double to make it 7-4.
“They’re a good hitting team as well,” Click said. “We started hitting around the fifth inning. We just kind of got out in front of the ball, little dribblers to the infield.
“By the fifth inning we started waiting on it. You get to see her a couple of times, and you know how she pitches. You’re able to get on it and hit.”
East pulled within one in the sixth after two runners crossed on an error. Dykes made a spectacular running catch at the fence to prevent any more scoring.
“Ashleigh saved us there a couple of times,” the coach said. “Defensively, that was a really good game for her.”
Bremer singled in the bottom half, but did not advance.
“It was just a good ball game all the way around,” Click said. “They made a few errors, and we made a few errors here and there. It was pretty equal, all the way up through the end.”
Sullivan East 010 212 0 — 6 7 3
Elizabethton 300 040 x — 7 11 2
Trent and Scott. Cunningham and Hodge. W—Cunningham (13-5). L—Trent (11-15). HRs—Elizabethton: Loving (7).