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Lady ’Toppers turn back Tribe in nine innings

By JOE AVENTO [email protected] • Apr 13, 2018 at 12:45 AM

KINGSPORT — Science Hill outlasted Dobyns-Bennett in a Big Seven Conference softball game, scoring twice in the ninth inning for a 3-1 victory Thursday night at Indian Highland Park.

Makenzie Smith’s RBI double in the top of the ninth broke a 1-1 tie and sent the Hilltoppers to their second conference victory over their rival.

“They just hung in there and battled,” said Science Hill assistant coach Bob Dempsey, who was standing in while head coach Jerry Higgins attended to a family situation. “It was a great job. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times, but that was a great win.”

Science Hill improved to 15-6 overall, 5-1 in the Big Seven, while D-B fell to 14-8 overall, 2-4 in the conference.

NINTH-INNING RALLY

Science Hill’s winning rally started when Mackenzie Powell reached on an error. She scored when Smith belted a double off the fence in right-center field. After Gracie Holt bunted Smith to third, Kasey Bennett provided an insurance run with a sacrifice fly.

“That felt great,” Smith said. “We had a good team effort and we were all working together. I had a little bit of a slump and I was like ‘I need it.’ I finally saw that pitch and I hit it.”

PITCHERS’ DUEL

D-B pitcher Morgan Riffle held the Hilltoppers hitless into the fourth inning. She struck out six batters and kept Science Hill’s hitters off balance in the early going.

“She did a great job,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard said. “I was tickled to death with her effort. She just had a bulldog attitude.”

Science Hill’s Sejal Neas struck out eight batters and worked out of trouble when she needed.

EARLY TIE

D-B got on the board first when Riffle doubled to right field and scored on an error in the third inning. The lead didn’t last long, as Science Hill’s Mia Edwardson led off the fourth with a solo home run.

UNIQUE SINGLES

Powell had two hits for Science Hill, and they came in a unique manner.

Two times, courtesy runner Rachel Flanary was hit by balls batted by Powell. Flanary was out each time, but because of official scoring rules, Powell was awarded a single on each occasion.

RALLY DENIED

The Indians tried to rally in the bottom of the ninth after Allison Reese doubled and Peyton Domby walked, but Neas got out of the jam with a groundout and a flyout to end the game.

“They didn’t quit,” Hubbard said. “That’s a big deal to me because we’ve struggled a couple of games before this. It’s a great group of girls.”

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