By Matt Myers
Slugging, fielding, scoring. This week has been huge for the Jr. Lady Cyclones’ ballclub in all the aformetioned softball facets.
Motivated by an ugly loss to Unicoi County on Monday, the sluggers from ’Betsy have since gone on to capture five straight victories, including an impressive (11-1 Game 1, 18-0 Game 2) doubleheader sweep of Indian Trail on Thursday at Elizabethton High.
The wins, which came on the heels of an impressive Orange & Black sweep of Sevier Wednesday ( 11-1 Game 1, 10-0 Game 2), stand as a testament to the youthful ladies from ’Betsy’s resolve and desire to hit a winning stride as this middle school softball season extends past the middle point.
Lady Jr. Cyclone co-head coach Bonnie Parker spoke about that desire in the wake of her squad’s impressive 18-0 second-game shutout.
“Early in the year we struggled to maintain consistency, but this week has been different,” said Parker after a joyous postgame celebration. “The 12-1 loss to Unicoi was a really wakeup call for us. Since then the girls really took it upon themselves to play to their potential. The result has been a team that is not concerned about its youth anymore. These girls just want to turn it on and play to win, no matter how experienced our opponent is.”
TAD began its dominance of Thursday’s first game with a firstinning barrage of power hitting that resulted in a 5-0 lead by the close of the first stanza.
Abbi McKinney’s standup triple off the center-field fence on her first atbat of the game was the beginning of the Lady Jr. Cyclones’ salvo, and from there the inning took on the feel of Orange & Black batting practice.
Just one out later Emily Kiser got the scoring under way as she drove an RBI double into left-field to score McKinney. Kiser then proved just how tenacious she could be offensively by stealing second, third and then home to set the score at 2-0.
She would end up finishing the game with perhaps the best allaround performance as she went 2 for 2 on the evening from the plate with 2 RBIS, and struck out five batters from her pitching position.A double from Jessica Cunningham followed by RBI singles from Sara Hardin, Lauren Brickey, and Bailey Montgomery in succession resulted in the rest of the five run explosion and by Innings close the girls from ’Betsy had seized a control of the game that they would never relinquish.
A double from Kacey Kacmar in the bottom of the second inning coupled with an RBI double from McKinney and an RBI triple from Kiser in the third allowed the Lady Jr. Cyclones to push out to an 11-1 lead by the close of the third Inning. After another successful fielding display in the top of the fourth, the game was awarded to the Lady Jr. Cyclones due to the mercy rule.
That same mercy rule would come into effect in the evening’s nightcap as well, only this time it was a full inning earlier.
A 10-run second inning, which saw RBI singles from Kiser, Jessica Cunningham, Brickey and Montgomery as well as RBI doubles from Alexis Williams, Catlyn Gardner and McKinney, completely devastated Indian Trail’s momentum and morale. The 16-0 lead would turn into a 18-0 lead just an inning later and ensure that the Lady Hawks’ at-bat in the bottom of the third would be their last.
The Lady Jr. Cyclones (6-4) will try to continue their display of offensive and defensive prowess Tuesday as they travel to Colonial Heights for a game set for 5 p.m.
Cyclone fans will also have the opportunity to see the ladies in action back home on Wednesday, April 18 against Church Hill. First pitch in that game is also set for 5 p.m.