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Tiller Time

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Two HRs, controversy fuel rivalry game

By Chris Cannon

ccannon@lafollettepress.com

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Abby Tiller put on a clinic last Thursday.

The Jellico Lady Blue Devil pitcher threw a complete game, all while blasting two shots over the center-field fence in order to lift Jellico over the Campbell County Lady Cougars, 12-11.

“She needed that,” Jellico head coach Nancy Douglas said. “Abby will come through for you. She’s pretty resilient.”

Trailing by one during the final inning, 11-10, with two outs, Jellico was looking for a savior.

Tiller helped her own cause on the mound, blasting a two-run shot to dead center, scoring Sarah Prewitt on the play.

For Tiller, there was only one feeling.

“Nervous, because I didn’t know if my team was going to pull through,” she said. “They did. It was definitely back and forth, especially after me getting out twice and then hitting two homeruns. It was definitely stressful.

“I saw it go, and I was like, ‘OK, it’s either going to hit the fence, or it’s going.’ I didn’t really know, and I was really scared.”

However, it wasn’t only Tiller’s clutch hit that saved the day.

On a day that saw eight Jellico errors, Tiller kept her cool on the mound.

“She pitched a pretty good game. I mean, we just had (errors) at places we hadn’t been having (errors) at. I think they were too comfortable with the first win (over Campbell County, 13-3). Definitely too comfortable.”

Tiller’s first 12 tosses were strikes, as she maintained a 74 percent strike rate.

In 105 pitches, Tiller only threw 28 balls.

“She pitched really well,” Douglas said.

However, the night didn’t go without controversy.

Going into the bottom of the sixth, Campbell County trailed 10-7, but a strong run pulled them ahead.

For Jellico, it could have been a lot worse had it not been for a call.

“The umpire said that Harley (Duvall) was holding onto the (catcher Courtney Charles’) back,” Campbell County coach Rebecca Mongar said. “What Harley said, the girl was falling, and she was just catching her. Like I told her, ‘Next time, let her fall.’ Just trying to be a good teammate. She knew the girl.”

The call was crucial, as it scratched Rylee Oakes’ run from the scoreboard, while simultaneously ending the inning.

Had the run counted, the game might have gone to extra innings with a 12-12 score.

“A few missed calls out here on the field that didn’t help,” Mongar said.

However, the rivalry is going to survive, Mongar said.

“We enjoy playing with them,” the Campbell County coach said. “Nancy and I, we usually always have good games. It’s usually back-and-forth, so it’s anybody’s ball game, anytime we play them. It has been since I’ve been coaching, and we look forward to seeing them again.”

“It was good,” Douglas continued. “They’ve improved. Their players have definitely improved, and they’ve stepped it up. They’ve definitely stepped up. I’m proud of them, too.”

Jellico started things off in the top of the first. A single by Charles scored Brittany Kennedy from second. Two batters later, Destany Creekmore found an RBI as she scored Charles from third. The score was 2-0.

The bottom of the second saw Campbell County come back. Oakes singled to left, scoring Duvall on an error. Three batters later, Autumn Reynolds scored Oakes on a single to right. Going to the third, the score was knotted at 2-all.

Tiller regained control of the game, as she laced a homerun to left-center. A wild pitch scored Creekmore from third, before a sacrifice bunt by Stephanie Lay scored Rachel Ayers. Going into the fourth, Jellico led 5-2.

Three consecutive errors cost Jellico in the fourth, scored Oakes, Kaitlin Ray, Reynolds, Jordan Daugherty, and Kristy Stanley. The surge gave Jellico a 7-5 lead going into the fifth.

Two singles and a double lifted Jellico back to the lead in the top of the fifth. Emily Hughes, Lay and Kennedy each recorded RBIs in the inning, as Jellico led 8-7.

Charles scored off a wild pitch in the top of the sixth, as Creekmore was able to reach home on an error to extend Jellico’s lead to 10-5.

However, three more errors in the bottom of the sixth became costly. Daugherty, Stanley, Megan Bailey and Duvall each scored, but the controversial call ended the inning prematurely. Campbell County led 11-10.

Tiller’s two-run bomb put things out of reach late, as Jellico took the win, 12-11.

“We did a lot of things better tonight,” Mongar said. “We’ve got a lot of things we’re working on. We’re a young team, with only one senior that we’re losing. Hopefully, we’ll have the same girls back out and gain a few more.”