KINGSPORT — Survive and advance was the rallying cry on a windy Saturday at Indian Highland Park, and the top four seeds managed to do just that on the first day of the District 1-AAA softball tournament.
Dobyns-Bennett and Daniel Boone blew right through their first-round opponents. For Science Hill and Volunteer, however, advancing to Monday’s semifinals wasn’t such a breeze.
The second-seeded Lady Hilltoppers built a 6-0 lead before holding off No. 7 David Crockett in the final inning to preserve a 7-6 victory.
The Lady Hilltoppers were in control until Leah Rose launched a two-run homer to put Crockett on the board in the top of the sixth. The senior first baseman followed it up in the seventh with a three-run double, giving her five RBIs on the day.
Rose later scored to bring the Lady Pioneers within a run before Science Hill was finally able to slam the door.
“We hit just enough to score just one more run than they did,” Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins said. “That’s about all you can say. Leah Rose accounted for every one of their runs — you’d have to say she was the game’s MVP.”
Madi Oertling hit a two-run homer in the third inning and Abbey Younger followed with a solo shot that staked Science Hill to a 4-0 lead.
No. 4 Volunteer was tied with No. 5 Sullivan Central in the bottom of the sixth inning until some aggressive baserunning propelled the Lady Falcons to a 5-3 win.
With runners on second and third, Ashley Lindholm was able to steal home on a botched suicide squeeze attempt. Aspen Corn scored on a passed ball moments later to provide the Lady Falcons with the winning margin.
“We survived another day. That’s all you can say,” Volunteer coach Jackie Strickler said. “When you have people on base with some pretty good wheels, you have to roll them. They just made great reads on the ball.”
Jodi Shipley added a two-run double for the Lady Falcons.
Volunteer advanced to face top-seeded Daniel Boone on Monday at 5 p.m.
Boone got a two-hit shutout from ace Cora Baker and used an 11-hit assault to win 7-0 over No. 8 Sullivan South in its tourney opener.
Jennine Duncan came up with an RBI double in the first inning, when the Lady Trailblazers built a 3-0 lead.
Boone coach Rick Wagner said the fast start played a bit part in helping his team avoid an upset.
“We came out and swung the bat good, especially in the first inning,” Wagner said. “Cora threw the ball well and we survived.”
Science Hill faces the third-seeded Tribe on Monday at 7:30 p.m.
The Lady Indians hit the ball early and often en route to a 15-1 win over No. 6 Tennessee High in five innings.
Cayley McCaslin drove in five runs and Sierra Call had a double and three RBIs to lead D-B. Samantha Lilley had a pair of RBI singles and Stephanie Ash added a two-run single for the Tribe.
“I felt good about it,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard said of his team’s 17-hit performance. “If you don’t do it here, you’re done.”
After watching Science Hill and Volunteer struggle to advance early in the day, Hubbard said his players had no intention of taking their opponent lightly. Especially since the Tribe managed to win a pair of close games against the Lady Vikings during the regular season.
“They don’t quit,” he said. “When you’re playing teams like that, every out is important.”