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Hilltoppers' Neas outduels Tribe's Riffle in Big 7 battle

By Tanner Cook • Mar 26, 2019 at 10:16 PM

KINGSPORT — A pitcher’s duel broke out between Big 7 Conference rivals Dobyns-Bennett and Science Hill in a Tuesday afternoon softball matchup at Indian Highland Park.

Sejal Neas’ Lady Hilltoppers edged Morgan Riffle’s Lady Indians 2-1.

Neas went the distance on just 77 pitches — 58 of them for strikes — and struck out six batters.

Shayna Price and Mackenzie Powell hit two big RBI doubles for the Lady ’Toppers (12-3, 2-0). Science Hill managed just five hits, but the two misplayed doubles by D-B outfielders proved costly.

“Those two balls in the outfield that we normally catch killed us,” Lady Indians coach Andy Hubbard said. “We didn’t hit it like we’re capable of, but we’ve gotten better from the beginning of the year. ...

“You’ve got to capitalize on mistakes. They did and we didn’t. Riffle threw a great game and couldn’t have pitched any better.”

Riffle, a senior, wound up with the loss despite striking out nine on 90 pitches thrown.


Though trailing 2-0, the Lady Indians (5-6, 2-2) went into their final at-bat with a little momentum after Riffle set down Science Hill in order in the top of the seventh inning.

Kassidy Miller got on base with a grounder up the middle, just the third hit of the game for D-B. Brandy Hannoway was hit in the elbow and took her base, giving the Lady Indians runners on first and second with no outs.

After Peyton Domby struck out, Kierstyn Judd singled up the middle to load the bases.

Emma Allgood swung at the first pitch from Neas, popping out to first, but the Tribe was still alive. Neas then plunked Evee Battisto on the next pitch, driving in the first D-B run — and the bases were still loaded.

That’s when Neas stepped up to stop the bleeding, striking out Griffin Mullins looking on three pitches.

Riffle finished with the other two Tribe hits, both singles.


“We didn’t make any errors,” Science Hill coach Jerry Higgins said. “Shayna Price hit the ball well. ... When you’ve got a 2-0 lead, our pitching has to be good all the time. Part of the time doesn’t get it done.”


Science Hill hosts Daniel Boone in a pivotal early season Big 7 game Wednesday at 4 p.m.

The Lady Indians are competing in this weekend’s Eastman tournament at Brickyard Park.

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