BY BRYCE PHILLIPS, Elizabethton Star
JOHNSON CITY— There are some games where neither team deserves to lose, and that was the case when Elizabethton and Happy Valley locked horns in a classic softball contest at Metro Kiwanis Park in Johnson City.
With the game playing out as a home game for the Lady Warriors due to field conditions at Lady Warrior Field, Happy Valley seemed to be right at home in the early going before the Lady Cyclones threw on the rally caps to come roaring back from four runs down to take an 8-6 Three Rivers Conference win.
It was the Lady Warriors who set the pace early as Happy Valley grabbed a 1-0 lead after one inning when Olivia Absher was brought home on a single by Macy Puckett.
Elizabethton evened the score at 1-all in the top of the third. Maggie Johnson ripped the laces off a pitch for a stand-up double with two outs.
Kira Dillard followed with a scorcher to left field that was misplayed by Laura Rice allowing Johnson to score.
Elizabethton took their first lead of the contest in the top of the fourth inning when Kaylen Shell laced a single to right field to open the inning.
Autumn Hensley followed with a single after fouling off five straight pitches from Lady Warrior pitcher Abby Holt putting Lady Cyclones at first and second.
Elizabethton starting pitcher Madisun Pritchard did her job by putting down a sacrifice bunt to advance both runners.
Shell would race across the dish on a ball hit on the infield by third baseman Hannah Edwards making the score 2-1 in favor of the Lady Cyclones.
The Lady Warriors recaptured the lead in a big way in the bottom of the fifth still trailing 2-1.
Olivia Absher roped a hit that barely missed going yard for a stand-up double with one out in the Happy Valley fifth.
Kadie Havner didn’t let Absher stand long as the Lady Warrior catcher didn’t miss on her opportunity as she drove a pitch deep over the left field wall giving the Lady Warriors the 3-2 advantage.
After an error at shortstop allowed Cierra Southerland to reach safely, Puckett picked up her teammate with a base hit to give Happy Valley a 4-2 lead at the end of the inning.
The Lady Warriors kept the intensity level up in the bottom of the sixth adding two more runs after holding the Lady Cyclones at bay in the top of the inning.
With two outs, Absher made sure that she didn’t miss out on another opportunity as she took a Kailey Peters pitch over the centerfield fence for a solo home run making it 5-2 Happy Valley.
Havner flexed her muscles once again taking a second dinger over the left field fence to extend the Lady Warrior lead to 6-2.
With a huge deficit facing them and down to their last bat in regulation, the Lady Cyclones rolled up their sleeves and went to work with one out.
Maddie O’Quinn got things going with a single. Johnson followed with a single of her own putting Lady Cyclones at first and second base.
Dillard kept things going with another single to load the bags full of Elizabethton runners. Catcher Haley Fair lofted a fly ball to left field that resulted in an error allowing O’Quinn to score.
After Shell struck out for the second out of the inning, Hensley kept a hot bat as her single allowed Johnson and Dillard to score making it a 6-5 Lady Warrior lead with Fair advancing to third base.
Pritchard got a measure of revenge after leaving the pitching circle in the fourth inning trailing 4-2 as the freshman launched a 2-2 pitch over the centerfield fence for her first out-of-the-park homerun as a Lady Cyclone to score Fair and Hensley to give Elizabethton the 8-6 edge.
Happy Valley wasn’t ready to fold up the teepee in the bottom of the inning as Puckett led off with a single.
With one out, a Maddie Lingerfelt single kept hopes up for a Lady Warrior rally of their own. However, Elizabethton managed to get the second out of the inning on a Holt line out to third before Rice grounded into a fielder’s choice to bring the game to an end.
Peters earned the win for Elizabethton while Holt took the tough loss.