Lady Jr. 'Clones overwhelm HV

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   Big surprises come in small packages. There was a petite package on the hill at Elizabethton High School's softball field on Monday, one that the Jr. Lady Warriors hadn't expected.
   Mary Edgar of T.A. Dugger tossed a complete-game, three-hit shutout at the Jr. Lady Warriors of Happy Valley, while Megan Heaton was knocking the stitches off the softball, enabling the Jr. Lady Cyclones to take a 16-0 victory in five innings.
   "My fastball was working really well," said Edgar after the contest. "I probably could have done a little bit better, though."
   Edgar wasted few pitches in the game, as she struck out eight Jr. Lady Warriors while walking none. She had plenty of offensive support from her teammates, allowing her to pitch with a comfortable advantage.
   In the top of the first inning, Happy Valley tried to get something going after a Sam Canter groundout to first baseman Mikaelia Pietrowski opened the contest.
   Amber Duncan reached on a dropped third strike. Caitlin Kerley then laced a single and Duncan attempted to come all the way home on the play.
   However, Jr. Lady 'Clone third baseman Katie Hubbard threw a perfect strike to catcher Cameron Crapps, who applied the tag on Duncan for the second out of the inning with Kerley taking second on the throw.
   That was all the Lady Warriors could muster as Lindsay Buck hit a slow roller that was handled unassisted by Pietrowski to end the frame.
   The Jr. Lady Cyclones were at full strength early in the contest. Crapps ripped a double to left field to open things up for T.A. Dugger. Hubbard flew out to the left fielder for the first out of the inning.
   Brittaney Smith reached on a walk as did Brittany Brown to load the bases for Heaton. Heaton stepped to the plate and slammed one to right field for a double and two RBIs.
   Second baseman Mikael Oliver followed suit by ripping a double to left field to plate Brown and Heaton. The next T.A. Dugger batter, Cassidy Blevins, was issued a base-on-balls.
   She and Oliver was stranded, however, as Pietrowski went down swinging and Lana Blevins popped a lazy foul ball that was grabbed by catcher Maggie Austin to end the rally with the Jr. Lady 'Clones leading 4-0.
   Edgar went back to work in the second as she recorded all three outs on strikeouts. Hannah Renfro was a bright spot for the Warriors as she hit one up the middle for a single after the first strikeout, but was hung out to dry.
   T.A. Dugger once again made some noise in its portion of the second as Tia Nave reached on a throwing error by the second baseman. Crapps followed with a walk and Hubbard picked up a RBI on a double to left field.
   Smith was hit on the calf to load the bases once again. Brown popped out to second and the stage was once again set for Heaton. She didn't disappoint as she nailed a rocket to left field, clearing the bases for her fifth RBI of the game.
   "I felt like I played well," stated Heaton. "I still feel like I could have loosened up a little more on a couple of at-bats."
   Oliver continued with a hot stick, delivering a single that drove home Heaton for the Jr. Lady Cyclones' fifth run of the inning. The Jr. Lady Warriors managed to fight hard and get the next two batters, snuffing out a chance for more runs for the 'Clones.
   Trailing 9-0 entering the third inning, Happy Valley Middle needed a rally, but once again Edgar was on with her stuff as she sent the first two Jr. Lady Warriors to the bench on K's.
   Canter then delivered a single to place a runner on first. It was short-lived as Crapps rifled a throw to second to retire Canter on a steal attempt.
   Lana Blevins managed to reach on an error by the shortstop in the bottom of the third, but that was before Renfro was finally able to lasso the Jr. Lady Cyclones to end the inning without any damage.
   T.A. Dugger's infield got into the act in the top of the fourth as the first two batters were thrown out attempting to reach on grounders.
   Oliver took care of a ball hit by Duncan, while Hubbard nailed Kerley in a bang-bang play at first. Edgar sent Paige McNeil down on a swinging strikeout to end the frame for Happy Valley.
   The fourth inning was the final piece in the puzzle for T.A. Dugger. Smith reached on a walk, Kendall Blackston reached on an error by the right fielder, and Heaton loaded the bases by reaching on an error by the shortstop.
   Oliver recorded a RBI on a walk issued by Renfro. Victoria Hopson also picked up a RBI on a full-count walk from the pitcher. Pietrowski stepped up and delivered a single for two more RBI's.
   Ashley Cline popped out to first for out number one. Nave then drew another walk and Crapps delivered a single, driving in two more runs. Hubbard topped things off with a bases-loaded walk for the final run of the contest.
   Edgar took charge in the top of the fifth retiring Olivia Clark and Mallory Markland on strikeouts, and forcing Austin to groundout quietly to Pietrowski to end the game.
   "Happy Valley Middle traditionally has a very tough, strong softball program," stated T.A. Dugger head coach Harry Farthing. "They've beaten us pretty bad in the past, so it felt good to beat them today."
   Added Farthing: "Happy Valley is really young, but Coach Wandell has some players to build on so they will be pretty good."
   "The rain has really hurt us," commented Jr. Lady Warrior mentor Josh Wandell. "You can't take anything away, though, from the way the pitcher for T.A. Dugger threw tonight. She didn't miss the strike zone very often."
   T.A. Dugger improves to 3-1 on the young season, while the Jr. Lady Warriors go 0-1.