By Rick Sheek
GREENEVILLE — Elizabethton’s softball team was grounded on Tuesday evening.
The Lady Cyclones were blanked 6-0 by Greeneville in the Region 1-AA tournament semifinals at Hardin Park.
“They just hit the ball, and we didn’t,” Elizabethton coach LeAnne Click said. “Again, kind of what happened against Unicoi. We just didn’t hit the ball, and we had a few key strikeouts from our middle lineup.
“They’re a good team. They played really well today, and we just didn’t put the bat on the ball like we should have.”
The Cyclones (21-14) managed just three hits off of Jordan Fortel, who struck out nine with one walk. Elizabethton’s best chance to punch in some runs came in the fifth, when Ashleigh Dykes and Emily Dugger each singled and manned second and third base with two outs.
Danielle Loving ripped a shot up the right field-line, which Greeneville first baseman Sarah Luttrell gloved.
“In the fifth we got a couple of runners on, and Danielle had a great shot,” Click said. “But the girl made a great play. You’ve got to give it to them.
“I hate like anything it’s the end of our season. We’ve got a lot of young kids, so we’ll come back strong.”
Elizabethton’s Lindsey Cunningham hurled 6 2/3 innings. She was roughed up for 10 hits, the six runs were earned and she fanned four with two walks.
She lost her composure with two away in the sixth after she had served up a solo home run to Madison Rambo and a double to Caitlyn Darnell. Emily Thorton took the circle and recorded the final out.
Fortel retired the first eight Cyclones, before Emily Carr’s single in the third.
“I don’t know if it was the speed of the pitcher,” Click said. “We’ve faced pitchers that fast, obviously, but sometimes when you play you face different speeds. Sometimes it’s hard for us to adjust from fast to slow to fast to slow.
“We had trouble against Unicoi doing the same thing, because she had a little bit of speed on her — when in previous games we hit, hit, hit, hit.”
An error in the fourth and a walk in the sixth placed Cyclones on base, but the runners didn’t advance.
Fortel doubled in the first, before being stranded. Lorena Leon rapped a run-scoring single in the second.
Greeneville (27-1) increased its advantage to 3-0 in the third. Fortel again doubled, before Luttrell’s two-run single.
Rambo delivered a run-scoring single in the fourth. In the fifth, Luttrell tagged a runscoring single to make it 5-0.
Rambo batted 3 for 4. Luttrell and Fortel were each 2 for 3.
“It’s just kind of highs and lows, Click said. “That’s the way it’s been all year, but I’m proud of them. They had a good season.”
The Greene Devils, who have qualified for Friday’s Class AA Sectional round, visit Unicoi County (42-7) this evening for the Region 1-AA championship.
Elizabethton 000 000 0 — 0 3 1 Greeneville 012 111 x — 6 10 1
Cunningham, Thorton (6) and Hodge. Fortel and Ottinger. W—Fortel. L—Cunningham. HRs— Greeneville: Rambo.