KINGSPORT — Winning the Eastman Invitational would be nice. For many teams, though, weekend tournaments like the one that began Friday in Kingsport are about getting ready for the rigors of postseason play.
Dobyns-Bennett and Gate City took to the field with that goal in mind, and enjoyed mixed results.
D-B swept its two games on the opening day of the Eastman tourney, rallying to beat Cocke County 4-2 before overwhelming Happy Valley by a 13-1 margin.
Meanwhile, at Domtar Park, Gate City dropped an 8-6 decision to Richlands. GC/CENTRAL GOES HERE
“You want to peak at the end of the season and be good at the end of the season,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard said. “I’ve seen a lot of teams go through and finish first, second or third and be tired at the end or tired of it and be done in the district (tournament). That’s what I hope we’re not doing.
“We’ve got plenty of room for improvement, that’s for sure.”
Hubbard will try to improve his team as a whole by shuffling his lineup a bit over the remainder of the Lady Indians’ run in the Eastman Invitational. Ashley Christian, who primarily has been handling designated hitter duties, will get some work in the outfield. And a few players who’ve been struggling at the plate will see additional at-bats.
On Friday, the Tribe’s offense sputtered early against Cocke County, but came through in the seventh inning when Emily Anderson’s two-run single broke a 2-all tie.
“We respond when we get behind. ... That’s hard to do,” said Hubbard, whose team has engineered similar late-game heroics against Big 8 Conference foes Science Hill and Daniel Boone already this season.
The positive momentum carried over to D-B’s second game against Happy Valley. The Lady Indians slugged 14 hits, scored seven runs in the first inning and won in a romp.
Catcher Stephanie Ashe doubled twice and drove in five runs. Winning pitcher Samantha Lilley allowed one run on three hits and helped herself with a 3-for-3, two-RBI effort inside the batter’s box.
Makenzie Lilley went the distance in D-B’s win over Cocke County.
Christian and Lauryn Denton had multihit efforts in both of the Lady Indians’ Friday games.
Time ran out on Gate City in its game with Richlands. After squandering an early 4-0 lead, the Lady Blue Devils rallied to tie the game at 6 before allowing Richlands to push across a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth inning — and with the game past the 75-minute mark. Per tournament rules, an inning can’t start beyond the 75-minute mark unless the score is tied.
Gate City squandered its early advantage after committing two errors in the bottom of the first inning that helped Richlands send 11 batters to the plate and generate six runs on four hits.
Shortstop Alyssa Clark went 3-for-3 with two runs scored out of the leadoff spot for Gate City (1-4). Losing pitcher Tirzah Lane added two hits and scored twice for a Lady Devils team still in the early portion of its season
“We’ve actually got quite a few games before our district play starts,” Gate City coach Sarah Bellamy said. “We’ve got some younger players and we’ve had to move some people around. This is a good chance to see what they can do and where they can play.”
Among other early games involving local teams, Holston routed Sullivan South by a 15-0 margin; Daniel Boone tallied a 10-5 decision against West Forsyth; Tennessee High fell 6-1 to Richlands; and Powell Valley enjoyed a 3-2 walk-off win against Wilson Central.