Lady Warriors nab 8-0 victory against Unaka

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR CORRESPONDENT
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   The Lady Warriors were victorious in their matchup with Unaka on Monday, as Happy Valley exploded in the fourth inning to come away with an 8-0 win at Ronnie Hicks field.
   The Lady Rangers trailed by just two runs heading into the top of the fourth inning, but five hits from the Warriors and a couple of errors by Unaka blew the game wide open.
   "We didn't perform as well as we should have. We came out a little flat, but fortunately for us they made some errors, and our base running is what really won the game for us," said Happy Valley coach Kerri Killen.
   Both teams went three and out in the first frame, as good fielding was played by each side.
   The Warriors broke loose in the top of second to score two runs after grabbing three hits.
   It started off with a base hit from Terra Whaley, followed up with a single by Jessica Blevins.
   "We really didn't hit the ball as well as we should have, and I'm a little disappointed with that, but when you can keep a team from scoring, then you know that you're defense is playing well," said Killen.
   An error at shortstop and a passed ball enabled Whaley and Blevins to score to give the Warriors a 2-0 lead.
   In the top of the fourth, Happy Valley extended its advantage to 8-0 after scoring six runs.
   Blevins was the first batter to make contact, as she went 2-for-3 from the plate on the evening.
   "We did really well by playing as a team and not making many errors, and our hitting could be better but at least our defense is good," said Blevins.
   Jennifer Osborne connected on a single, and an error at third base by the Rangers enabled Blevins and Osborne to score, which would have been the Warriors' third out.
   "I struggled in my last hit, but hopefully I'll be able to get it together, and I think we're going to be a pretty good team and be able to pull together," said Blevins.
   Unaka was definitely having its problems with mistakes in the fourth frame, as the Rangers committed three errors total.
   "We held them for five out of seven innings, and then we had that one inning where if we get the third out then we hold them," said Unaka coach Ronnie Hicks.
   A shot to left field from Kortney Goulds brought home Mandy Byrd to push the lead to 5-0.
   Alicia Dick produced the game's only triple on the evening with a hit to center field, which drove in Katie Powell and Goulds.
   "I told my assistant coach that this team would make our youth show up, and they would make us pay for our mistakes -- and they did," said Hicks.
   Another error in right field allowed Dick to come home for the Warriors' eighth run, but Happy Valley's scoring frenzy came to an end with the next batter, as Jessica Moffitt made the play on a fly ball at shortstop.
   "I know we can compete better than what we did today. I've seen us do it, but we need to learn how to run the bases better and just practice on some things," said Moffitt.
   Unaka wasn't able to rally in the last three innings, and its first hit on the game didn't come until the bottom of the sixth, when Danielle Williams connected on a single.
   "We practice on (correcting) mistakes everyday, but we still messed up, and we need a lot of practice on batting right now," said Moffitt.
   The Rangers had a chance of grabbing a score in the last frame, after a walk to Megan Heaton and a base hit came from Emily Elliott to put runners on first and third.
   A pop up to Powell and a fielder's choice from Julie Roberson created the final out, with Happy Valley's defense holding the Rangers scoreless.
   Leann Howell was credited the winning pitcher for the Warriors, as they rotated among three different players at the mound.
   "We mixed it up and had three out of our four pitchers in there, and when a team doesn't score any runs, then the pitchers are doing their job, plus the defense is doing theirs also," said Killen.
   Williams received the loss for Unaka. She gave up eight hits and retired five batters with strikeouts.
   "I thought my pitcher played good enough to win if we're playing defense behind her," Hicks said. "My right side of the infield did well, but my catcher, I thought, played one heck of a game."