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South’s all-around effort stymies Elizabethton

Jeff Birchfield • Apr 12, 2019 at 12:47 AM

KINGSPORT — Sullivan South pitcher Nichole Troutman was quick to credit her teammates for her great day in the circle.

Troutman scattered six hits over seven innings as the Lady Rebels defeated Elizabethton 8-1 in a key Three Rivers Conference softball contest on Thursday night.

Troutman wasn’t so much overpowering as effective, especially with South’s infield making big play after big play.

“My dropball was working well and so was my fastball, but my teammates backed me up well,” Troutman said. “We’ve been working hard and trying to step up every game. It helped that we scored some runs. We practice hitting all the time and it really paid off.”

The Lady Rebels improved to 11-7 overall and 5-2 in the Three Rivers Conference.

Maddie O’Quinn gave Elizabethton a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, scoring on an error.

However, South quickly turned the tables as Allison Chapman hit a two-run home run that also scored Troutman. Along with Laura Dade’s RBI groundout, South held a 3-1 lead at the end of one inning.

Dade added an RBI single in the third. She led the South offense, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs.

Other leaders included Mackenzie Compton, 3-for-4 with two runs scored; Troutman, who was 2-for-3; and Bradley Warner, who was 2-for-2. As a team, South had 13 hits and added two runs in both the fourth and sixth innings.

The all-around effort had Lady Rebels coach Chris Sturgill jumping for joy.

“We’ve really focused on our hitting, and we can be a tough team when we’re hitting the ball,” Sturgill said. “Then, we have two really good pitchers with Tara Shively and Nichole Troutman. Nichole was really on today, and she’s getting ground balls and pop-ups hit and the team is making plays behind her.

“We made some big defensive plays. Allison Chapman made some good throws from third base, Laura Dade showed some nice leadership at shortstop and Tara Shivley had some good digs at first base. Then, Katie Conkin made a huge play at second to end the game. I’m really proud of the infield.”

Elizabethton (6-9, 2-3) has been in a hitting slump of late, as Marley Wagner went 2-for-3 as the only player with multiple hits. The cold bats have resulted in the Lady Cyclones scoring only three runs over their last three games.

“We’re just not hitting it right now,” Elizabethton coach Ken Hardin said. “I don’t know what’s happened to us. We’ve hit it the entire year, and the last three games, we’ve gone silent. We had been scoring in droves.

“We just have to keep plugging away and go back to the cages and do the best we can. I have faith in my girls that we will come back.”

Hannah Edwards was saddled with the loss, going 3 1/3 innings, while Wagner threw 2 2/3 innings.

Next up for the Lady Cyclones is a weekend tournament at Gibbs. South hosts league-leading Unicoi County on Saturday afternoon.