State win slips away from 'Betsy in seventh

Douglas Fritz • Updated May 25, 2017 at 9:26 PM

MURFREESBORO — Elizabethton did everything it needed to do to beat the defending state champions — for 6 1/2 innings.

Christian Academy of Knoxville rallied for three seventh-inning runs, including a walk-off bases-loaded single by Sydney Fiestner. The 6-5 win came Thursday in the losers’ bracket of the Class AA state softball tournament at Starplex Field.

The Lady Warriors (40-7) remained in the hunt for a repeat while it was a season-ending loss for the Lady Cyclones (37-8).

When Elizabethton tacked on a run in the top of the seventh inning on Jessica Cunningham’s bloop single, the 5-3 edge was looking pretty strong. Cunningham, a senior, had a terrific day at the plate with three hits in three at-bats and three RBIs.

However, CAK got a break to start its final at-bat when Kayla Domon reached on catcher’s interference. Cassidy Heemsoth followed with a crushed home run to center field, tying the game at 5-5.

Lady Cyclones’ head coach Ken Hardin said he didn’t feel overconfident going into the bottom of the seventh.

“You’re always nervous down here because the teams are so good,” said Hardin. “You don’t play anybody that doesn’t belong here. And them being defending state champs, it makes you think.”

Hardin changed pitchers after the homer, bringing Kellie Cunningham in relief of Lauren Brickey. Emma Webb and Allison Zimmerman followed with singles, and then Lexi Harmon’s ground-ball single to center loaded the bases.

Fiestner stepped to the plate and drilled a line drive down the left field line. The ball landed right on the line just short of the fence, driving in Webb and ending the game. Fiestner finished with two hits and four RBIs, also hitting a towering two-run homer that cut Elizabethton’s lead to 4-3 in the fourth inning.

Elizabethton jumped on Zimmerman and CAK for two first-inning runs, and added two more in the third inning. The Cyclones would go on to belt Zimmerman for 10 hits and five earned runs despite nine strikeouts.

“The girls did a great job hitting,” said Hardin. “They played their hearts out, but things didn’t work out at the end. The girls came out with an aggressive approach at the plate. We hit the whole ballgame, we just didn’t string a few together late like we needed to.”

For Elizabethton in the circle, Brickey gave up six hits and five runs, three earned, in six innings. She walked three and struck out five.

At the plate, Brickey totaled three hits in four at-bats. Maci West added two hits and an RBI.

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