KINGSPORT — Science Hill and Dobyns-Bennett engaged in a classic back-and-forth battle on Monday in the District 1-AAA softball tournament at Indian Highland Park.
And in this particular contest of one-upsmanship, it paid to be the one who came up last.
The third-seeded Lady Indians came from behind to grab the lead in the top of the seventh inning, but the second-seeded Lady Hilltoppers rallied for two runs to win 5-4.
Science Hill will face Daniel Boone in tonight’s winner’s bracket final. D-B will square off against Volunteer after the top-seeded Lady Trailblazers beat Volunteer 7-1 earlier in the day.
As the nightcap between two old rivals reached the frantic final frame, the fact that Science Hill occupied the home dugout by virtue of seeding carried plenty of weight.
D-B may have grabbed a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh when Science Hill mishandled a sharp grounder off the bat of Sierra Call, but the Lady Hilltoppers had last raps.
The way things were going, there was no question who would win.
“Whoever batted last,” Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins said with a laugh.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, Lindsey Keys sent a sharp grounder skipping down the third-base line. The ball sent up a puff of chalk on its way to the left field corner as Maura Ditto came charging home with the game-winning run.
“Our hitting came through for us,” Higgins said. “And being the home team is a huge advantage.”
Keys’ hit negated an amazing rally by the Tribe. Trailing 3-0 in the sixth, Makenzie Lilley got things started by blasting a solo homer. That opened the floodgates as Samantha Lilley and Call followed with singles, setting the stage for Cayley McCaslin’s RBI single to pull D-B within a run.
Makenzie Lilley added an RBI double in the seventh to tie the game before Science Hill’s error put the Tribe ahead.
“(Science Hill) hit the ball when they had to and made plays when they had to,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard said. “But we played well, too. We just took a little while to get started.”
Megan Griffith had a pair of doubles and an RBI for Science Hill. Ditto added the RBI double that tied the game in the seventh.
Griffith came on in relief of Madi Oertling to pick up the win. Makenzie Lilley took the loss for D-B, but finished with two huge hits. Lauryn Denton also had a pair of hits for the Tribe.
In the opener, Boone used a pair of big innings to get past Volunteer.
Katie Clark’s two-run double gave the Lady Trailblazers the lead in the bottom of the second, part of a three-run inning.
Kellie Waycaster, Natalie Sheffey and Jessie Wheelock all added RBI singles during a four-run outburst in the bottom of the sixth that put away the game.
Cora Baker allowed just one run on six hits to pick up the win for Boone. Ashley Lindholm had an RBI double for Volunteer.
Boone coach Rick Wagner said the win wasn’t pretty, but that style points don’t apply in the postseason.
“When you get to this time of year, it’s just a grind,” he said. “You have to find a way to win, and we did a good job grinding it out.”
Volunteer will face D-B today at 5 p.m. in an elimination game. Boone and Science Hill will follow in the winner’s bracket final.
Volunteer coach Jackie Strickler said his players will need to put the game behind them.
“We’ve just got to keep plugging along,” he said. “We’re still playing.”