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Wise Central, Burton find themselves in deep end of Eastman Invitational pool

April 5th, 2014 9:47 pm by Greg Peters

Wise Central, Burton find themselves in deep end of Eastman Invitational pool

KINGSPORT — Forty teams. Eighty games. All in 15 hours.

And that was just Saturday in the Kingsport/Eastman Invitational softball tournament.

Rain on Friday forced the cancellation of all of the day's games and sent the tournament directors back to the drawing board to create a whole new schedule. The revised setup had each team playing four games Saturday, starting as early as 8 a.m., with day's finales beginning at 9:45 p.m.

Also sprinkled in: Feeding the teams and staff, which amounted to 260 pizzas and just over 1,000 chicken sandwiches.

Two Virginia teams that crossed the border to get another taste of big-time tournament action are Wise Central and John I. Burton. The squads, both with first-year coaches, found themselves in brackets with larger schools.

The Lady Warriors certainly showed no signs of intimidation when they went up against Tennessee High. After being shut out by Union County 6-0 early in the day, Central bounced back with an impressive 9-1 afternoon win over the Lady Vikings.

Logan Reynolds and Kaitlyn Stratton had two hits and two RBIs apiece in Central's 10-hit attack. Rachel Porchie smacked a two-run home run, also finishing with two hits.

"We get to see some better competition here, but we're just over here to compete," said Central coach Justin Sturgill. "Every game we are taking one at a time.

"I told these girls we obviously want to go 4-0, but we need to take it a game at a time."

Burton is sporting an 3-1 record in Cumberland District play, but the Lady Raiders landed in an Eastman pool that included Science Hill and 2013 tournament champion Knox Halls. Burton lost 8-3 to Happy Valley and 14-2 to Halls.

"I called them and tried to get the schedule changed because it's hard for a single-A school to hang with these kids," said Lady Raiders coach Jim Holdway. "But it's good competition and the hope is we will get better from it. Here you see different types of pitching and that will help down the road."

Daniel Boone, the 2012 tournament champion, had little trouble with its pool and looked to be back in the Round of 16 play that begins today. The Lady Trailblazers posted wins Saturday over Carter, Johnson County and Richlands.

"We were worried about how we had been swinging the bats," said Boone coach Rick Wagner. "But we changed our thought process to instead of worrying about hits just have one more run than the other team."

The rules of the tournament usually call for a 1-hour, 15-minute time limit per game with innings allowed to be completed when time expires. But because of Friday's wipeout, the time limit was adjusted to just one hour.

"This has been the best thing for us because sometimes we set back and wait for things to happen," Wagner said. "When you play one hour, the game can be won or lost in the first inning or first batter. It has made us be more aware early and that is what we have needed."

Volunteer is considered to be a definite contender. Playing on their own field, the Lady Falcons edged Grainger County 1-0 and bested Morristown East 8-1.

Round-of-16 action, in which the top-16 teams are seeded based on Saturday's play, begins Sunday at 9 a.m at Domtar Park. The championship game is scheduled for 3 p.m.

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