KINGSPORT — In the postseason, when it’s win or go home, it’s time to pull out all the stops.
Even if that means doing something you haven’t done in years.
Such was the case for Dobyns-Bennett senior outfielder Lauryn Denton Tuesday in the District 1-AAA softball tournament. Coming to the plate with two outs and two runners in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth inning, Denton switched to hit right-handed for the first time since she was a sophomore.
The result? A two-run single to right field. The Lady Indians went on to defeat Volunteer 6-2 in an elimination game and survive to play for at least one more day.
“It was scary, but I knew I had to pull through,” Denton said. “You can’t let anything get to you or you’re going to lose, regardless.”
D-B will play Science Hill today at 5 p.m. at Indian Highland Park. The winning team secures the last District 1 spot in the Region 1-AAA bracket and advances to face Daniel Boone immediately for the championship. An if-necessary game is scheduled for Thursday.
Boone locked up its regional berth, and the right to host, by defeating Science Hill 11-3 in the winner’s bracket final.
“This is the first time I think we’ve ever done that,” Lady Trailblazers coach Rick Wagner said of hosting a regional.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time Denton hit right-handed. Just the first time in a long time.
“She’s a left-handed slapper,” D-B coach Andy Hubbard explained. “We had runners on second and third and she’s batted all the way until two years ago as a right-handed hitter. We flipped her over right-handed and she got us two runs.”
Denton hit right-handed again in her final at-bat, drilling an RBI single into right field to account for the Lady Indians’ final run.
Makenzie Lilley went the distance on the mound, scattering six hits and two walks. She also swatted a solo home run in the fifth.
Volunteer coach Jackie Strickler rotated freshman Danielle Saltz and sophomore Lauren Smith in the circle, working each for an inning at a time. Smith took the loss, but all three runs she allowed were unearned thanks to two Lady Falcons errors.
“I felt like we hit with them. We just didn’t make as many defensive plays,” Strickler said.
Leadoff hitter Bridgette Benton scored both Volunteer runs.
Boone hit plenty, generating six runs on six hits in the bottom of the third to break open the game and chase Lady Hilltoppers hurler Megan Griffith. The Lady Trailblazers went on to tally 12 total hits. Winning pitcher Cora Baker helped herself with three hits, three runs scored and three RBIs.
“I think a lot of people had us penciled in this situation. Personally I didn’t think that’s fair,” Wagner said. “We’re still 90 percent sophomores.”
But the Lady ’Blazers are 100 percent guaranteed to play in the regional. They’ll also have to lose twice to either D-B or Science Hill to surrender the district tournament title.