ERWIN--The Lady Cyclones felt like being a party pooper on Thursday in Erwin as Elizabethton threw ice water on top of the Lady Devils senior night party by dealing Unicoi County only their second loss of the season, 2-1, in another classic defensive contest between the two squads.
Both teams worked through four innings with only one base runner reaching over the frames when Kelsey Simmons reached on a throwing error by senior pitcher Kara Woods to lead off the first inning.
Unicoi County stranded Simmons at third base without any further damage.
Amanda Schultz continued to sizzle from the mound as the Lady Cyclone hurler had the Lady Blue Devil batters doing little more than hitting the ball up in the air for her teammates to make the outs.
Over the course of the seven-inning contest, Elizabethton retired 17 of 24 batters via route of the fly ball.
On the flip side, Elizabethton was facing one of the best pitchers in Northeast Tennessee in Woods and she was doing what she does best--striking out batters.
Woods fanned five through the first four innings, but was her own worst enemy in the top of the fifth.
After recording her sixth 'K' of the evening, Logan White opened the door for the Lady Cyclones by getting the first hit of the contest, a single.
Schultz helped her cause by following with another single to place runners at first and second.
A wild pitch from Woods helped both runners take the extra bag.
The Lady Blue Devils defense got an infield out from shortstop Jessica Presser to Brittany Depew for out number two with the runners holding in place.
Woods had an opportunity to get out of the inning as she had worked a 3-2 count on Ashleigh Dykes before pegging Dykes to load the bases full of Lady Cyclones.
Woods then made the most critical play of the night for her team as on a dribbler back to the mound off a Simmons attempted slap bunt, Woods threw away from Depew for a two-base error that allowed White and Schultz to scamper home for the 2-0 Lady Cyclone advantage.
The Lady Blue Devils cut the lead in half in the bottom of the frame.
With one out, Shea Pearson screamed a double for Unicoi County's first base runner of the contest.
A 4-3 groundout advanced Pearson to third. Depew drew a walk before Erin Kiser couldn't get the grip on a ball hit by Ashley Starnes that allowed Pearson to score.
That would be the last she wrote for Unicoi County offensively as the Lady Cyclones retired the final six batters courtesy of pop-fly outs.
The seventh inning had two spectacular catches by the Lady Cyclones as second baseman Reazyn DeMoss made a full-layout, diving catch on lead-off batter Chelsey Gardner's flare that was heading toward center field.
White provided the other great catch on a ball headed for the left-center field gap off the bat of Pearson for out number two.
The final out on a pop fly to shortstop Kristen Powell brought a jubilant bunch of Lady Cyclones out of the Elizabethton dugout to celebrate the 2-1 victory.
Schultz finished the game with a masterpiece one-hitter as the senior continues to impress game after game.
Her plan was simple and worked to perfection.
"I tried to place the ball in different areas of the plate," said Schultz. "My defense just played amazing behind me.
"We came out with the right attitude and our defense just played awesome. I think it was the best game of the year tonight."
There wasn't anybody happier at Lady Devil Diamond than head coach Ken Hardin of the Lady Cyclones.
"Unicoi Co. is the best in the area, and everybody knows that," stated Hardin. "I am proud the girls came in here and toughed it out.
"We had a couple of good defensive plays from Logan (White) and Reazyn (DeMoss). Amanda (Schultz) doesn't strike people out, she just controls where they put it. We put the ball in play and when you do that gives you a chance."
Unicoi's Coach Grady Lingerfelt knows that his team is struggling at the worse time of the season with the district tournament looming in the near future.
"It's obviously mental because I've not changed a thing," said Lingerfelt. "We've got to go to Kentucky and play good ball and try to come back and fix whatever is ailing us.
"If we don't do any better up there, then we're hurting. We have two tournaments to get things fixed before the district or we'll be sitting at home watching someone else go down the road."
The Lady Cyclones (24-5, 7-2) will be hosting the Wayne Hodge Classic beginning on Friday and running through Saturday at Elizabethton.