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Big inning propels Lady Bears into regional semis

Kevin Mays • May 28, 2019 at 12:33 AM

BIG STONE GAP — One big inning made the difference.

After a sluggish start, host Union scored five unearned runs in the fourth inning on the way to a 9-1 victory over Tazewell on Monday in the Region 2D softball quarterfinals.

“We started out slow, but then we started hitting the ball, scoring runs and making plays,” Union coach Makenzie Cluesman said. “Once we get going, we’re hard to beat. The dugout was up, everyone was into the game and we scored the runs.”

Union (15-8) advanced to the regional semifinals to face Southwest District No. 1 seed Lebanon (16-7) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday at Lebanon.

“They have a great pitcher. We’re going to have to come hit the ball and make the plays and score the runs,” Cluesman said.

BOUNCING BACK

Tazewell’s Brooke Rowe started the game by being hit by a Marleigh Duncan pitch.

One out later, Macie Lynch delivered the Lady Bulldogs’ only hit, putting runners on first and second, and two Union errors allowed Rowe to score for the 1-0 lead.

Union tied the game at 1 in the second when Zoe Brooks reached on an error and scored from third on a groundball from Abbi Dickenson.

Then came the big fourth.

With one out, Madison Shuler reached on an error and Dickenson drew a walk to put runners on first and second. One out later, Union scored five runs on four straight hits, highlighted by an Emma Duncan triple.

The Lady Bears got two more hits in the next inning, including an RBI triple from Brooke Light, who finished 2-for-3 with two RBIs.

“I saw some pretty good pitches. We just adjusted to the pitching,” Light said.

The junior said the five-run inning gave the Lady Bears confidence the rest of the way.

“We just came together as a team and we were playing for each other and doing what we had to do to win,” Light said.

Duncan and Kayley Neece each finished 2-for-4 with an RBI for Union.

BATTLING ON THE MOUND

Tazewell had its chances to produce more runs.

The Lady Bulldogs loaded the bases in the top of the fourth but couldn’t push a run across.

Those scoring chances came thanks to four Union errors and three walks surrendered by Duncan. But the junior allowed only one hit and struck out seven in the complete-game win.

And she continued pitching despite being hit by a pitch on a finger of her throwing hand.

“I tried to bunt and she got me,” Duncan said. “I came out and did what I had to do.”

Duncan said she got a huge boost from Union’s big inning.

“I can throw more of my movement pitches and work on them more than I could when it was 1-1,” she said.

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