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Lady Warriors drop Devils, clinch regional berth

KEVIN MAYS, [email protected] • May 23, 2018 at 2:10 AM

GATE CITY — Wise Central punched its ticket to the Region 2D softball tournament Tuesday with a combination of aggressive baserunning and solid pitching and fielding.

The fifth-seeded Lady Warriors took a 4-2 win over fourth-seeded Gate City at Legion Field in the opening round of the Mountain 7 District tournament.

Central (9-11) advanced to Thursday’s district tournament semifinals. The Lady Warriors will face top-seeded John Battle at 7 p.m. after a win that clinched one of the district’s four spots in the Region 2D tournament.

“You hit just enough, we pitched good enough and we played good defense and we can beat anybody. We’ve have an up and down season. We’ve probably had more downs this year. But I told the girls if you play well at the end ...,” said Central coach Justin Sturgill.

Central finished with five hits and five stolen bases. Haley Mullins (9-10) picked up the win on the mound after scattering five hits.

Mullins, a senior, knew the game was a must-win for her and her teammates.

“I didn’t want it to be the last time I played with my best friends,” Mullins said. “We just came out ready to play.”

Brittany Mullins singled, stole second and later scored on a single from Brook Porter, and Keely Balthis gave Central a 2-0 lead in the second inning with a solo home run.

Two Gate City fielding errors helped Central add two runs in the fifth.

The Lady Blue Devils (10-10-1) cut the lead to 4-2 in the bottom of the fifth when Sarah Thompson and Alexis Flanary scored on a two-out single from Alyssa Clark.

Gate City threatened again with a pair of baserunners on in the sixth, but Central’s Haley Mullins ended the threat.

“It was just a matter of they hit the ball with people on base and we didn’t hit the ball with people on base,” said Gate City coach Cara Noe. “It’s that simple and we’ve talked about that all year.”

LADY BEARS CRUISE

In the Mountain 7 quarterfinal in Big Stone Gap, Marleigh Duncan and Zoe Brooks combined for a one-hitter to pitch the Union softball team to an 11-0, six-inning victory over Lee.

Duncan, a sophomore, struck out six batters over her three hitless innings. Brooks came on in the fourth and allowed the only hit, a bunt single by J.C. Medley, before finishing off the win.

Jenna Wade brought the game to an end an inning early with a two-RBI double — the 100th hit of her career.

Wade finished with two doubles, Kayley Neece went 3-for-3 with an RBI, Brooks drove in a pair of runs and Brooke Light rapped out two hits for the Lady Bears (14-6-1), who advanced to Thursday’s semifinals at Battle. Union plays Ridgeview at 5 p.m.

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