Lady Blue Devils top Happy Valley

By Wes Holtsclaw
STAR CORRESPONDENT

   The Unicoi Lady Blue Devils came to Happy Valley looking for a big win, and got one.
   Behind the slugging power of Deanna Rice, Katie Lewis, Danielle Huskins and Stephanie Byrd, the Lady Devils fought off a tough Happy Valley Lady Warrior team, 15-2.
   "They have a good team," said Unicoi County coach Charlie Baxter. "We had runs in scoring position when we needed the hits and we got them. Beth Haun had a good game, gave up only two hits. And this was the first time Natalie Lockner has gotten some work this year."
   Unicoi came out in the first inning, receiving a good one-two punch from Kim Anders and Deanna Rice. Danielle Huskins sent Anders in for the first run of the game, but that was all the Lady Warrior defense allowed in the first.
   Happy Valley stepped up for their first time at the plate, going down fast. As Beth Haun hurled two strikeouts to close the deal on the Lady Warriors with the 1-0 lead.
   Happy Valley backfired in the second inning behind three big defensive plays from first baser Jessica Blevins, holding the Unicoi lead to one.
   However, the Lady Warriors fell short again. Plays from Anders and Rice to Katie Baxter, with another Haun swinger closed the second inning at 1-0.
   Unicoi came out swinging in the third inning.
   The Lady Devils opened up with a pair of singles from Jenny Peterson and Anders. Rice sent Peterson in with a single of her own, followed by a Katie Lewis RBI shot.
   Rice would later steal home on a wild pitch, before Haun singled in Lewis to close the frame at 5-0 Unicoi.
   Happy Valley got its first two hits in the third from Katie Howell and Kate Powell, but three strikeouts shut the door on any Lady Warrior scoring opportunity.
   Happy Valley's defense played stellar at the top of the fourth, as Mandy Byrd, Tera Whaley and Jessica Barry shut down Unicoi with three consecutive outs.
   Whaley singled for the Lady Warriors; however, two more strikeouts and a fielding play from Huskins kept Unicoi's lead intact at 5-0.
   The Lady Devils had a huge fifth inning, scoring four runs, led by a Katie Baxter RBI single and a Peterson shot which brought in two runs, taking a 9-0 lead on Happy Valley.
   Haun would close out her pitching performance after a fifth-inning shutout of the Lady Warriors, collecting another of her eight strikeouts in the process.
   Haun executed behind the bat as well, singling in Katie Lewis for Unicoi's only score in the sixth, bringing the lead to 10-0.
   Happy Valley was forced to score in the inning to keep the game rolling, and completed the task successfully.
   Lee Ann Howell and Whaley would score for the Lady Warriors, courtesy of a Jenny Hawkins single against Natalie Lockner, bringing the score to 10-2 Unicoi.
   The Lady Devils looked to close it out in the seventh inning.
   Natalie Lockner and Kim Anders scored from Katie Lewis and Danielle Huskins singles, before Stephanie Byrd stepped up to the plate.
   Byrd, the reserve catcher, came out swinging like Frank Thomas and put the 'Big Hurt' on the Lady Warriors with a huge three-run shot over left center to seal the deal for Unicoi with a 15-2 lead.
   Lockner would pitch her way to three consecutive outs at the next Happy Valley at-bat, closing out the win for the Lady Devils.
   "We're still a young team," said Happy Valley coach Karri Killian. "We made a lot of mental mistakes, but they didn't do too bad. We had a few errors that cost us some runs, but they did all right."
   Haun was credited with the win for Unicoi, while Lockner took the save. Katie Howell added a mark to the losing column with the loss, despite her tough performance.