Lady 'Dogs drop North

By Travis Brown
STAR Staff
tbrown@starhq.com

   KINGSPORT--Despite getting off to a slow start, the Hampton High Lady Bulldogs posted their first victory of the softball season with an impressive come-from-behind 7-5 victory over the Sullivan North Lady Golden Raiders on Friday afternoon.
   Hampton skipper Patrick Kelly was excited about his team's comeback effort and hopes there is more good things to come.
   "I am proud of their effort," Kelly said. "We have something we can build on."
   Things started off badly for the Lady Bulldogs as first-inning woes lead to an early 4-0 deficit. The comedy of errors would continue in the second as a leadoff walk and two consecutive miscues gave North a 5-1 advantage.
   Only one of the Sullivan North runs would be earned in the contest as the Lady Bulldogs were plagued with mistakes early.
   That would be the last of the charity, however. The Lady Dogs didn't surrender another run, only facing 19 hitters in the last five innings.
   The offense soon came online as well, and it would do so in the top of the third inning. Melissa Norris and Joy Gardner came around to score on passed balls to pull the Bulldogs within two.
   As momentum continued to build, the Bulldogs struck big in the fourth inning. Lacy Oliver and Lauren Pitman reached base, and later come in to score on hits by Michelle Oaks and Gardner.
   The 'Dogs tacked on two more runs that were unearned to move out to a 7-5 lead over the struggling Lady Raiders.
   After securing the lead, Hampton would turn the ball over to Oliver and leave the game in defensive hands.
   Oliver silenced the Raiders in order during the home half of the fourth, but she would be threatened in the fifth.
   After retiring the first two hitters, a walk, single and another base-on-balls left the bases loaded and the lead in jeopardy.
   A ground ball to second base would end the rally, and maintain the narrow two run advantage heading into the sixth inning.
   The only other threat would come in the bottom of the seventh inning as the leadoff hitter Arissa Vaughn singled to start the frame.
   Vaughn would be forced out at second, and Brittany Moore popped into a double play to close the deal, and preserve the Bulldogs' first win of the 2003 campaign.
   The win comes with open arms after opening losses to University High and Unicoi County. Kelly hopes that his young team will continue to grow as the season continues.
   "They have a good attitude, and they work hard," Kelly said. "I was happy with the way we played. Our goal is to get it across the plate, and let the defense do its job. Today our defense stepped up."
   Gardner would lead the Lady 'Dogs with a pair of doubles, while Oaks went 2-4.
   The Lady Raiders received strong efforts from Vaughn and Jessica Hartsook, both went 2-for-4 at the plate.