Unicoi County gets past  Lady Warriors

By Wes Holtsclaw

   In their second meeting of the season, the Happy Valley Lady Warriors and the Unicoi County Lady Devils took a hold of the cold softball diamond and put forth seven solid innings of play.
   The defending state champion Lady Devils used two scoring spurts early in the contest, despite the Lady Warriors' toughness, to beat Happy Valley 4-0 on the road in a big Watauga Conference battle.
   With the same performance from the mound as in the first meeting, Beth Haun overwhelmed Happy Valley throughout the phase of the game.
   The cold weather and tough execution paved way for a solid outing from both teams defensively, as the offensive pace of the game was limited.
   "Our defense played well," said Happy Valley coach Karri Killen. "I can't complain. All of the balls were hit in front of us and there's nothing you can do to handle it."
   "Unicoi's a good team and you're not going to keep them hitless or scoreless," she said. "You've got to return the favor and hit the ball."
   Haun took the victory from the mound with a six-strikeout performance, allowing three hits on the afternoon.
   Alicia Dick tossed the first two innings for Happy Valley, before Kortney Goulds tossed the third and fourth. Dick returned to close out the final three innings of the game.
   "Alicia and Kortney are strong pitchers. They have their own styles and it mixes it up a bit," Killen said.
   Unicoi County opened with a bang, starting with a double from Jenny Peterson. Danielle Huskins brought Peterson around with her triple, eventually scoring from a Beth Haun sacrificed RBI.
   The Lady Warriors got their first hit of the game in the second inning behind Goulds, but they couldn't get her around the bases.
   Unicoi County battled back with a fielder's choice by Haun, followed up by a crushing two-run homer in the left corner from Stephanie Byrd to take a 4-0 lead.
   Both squads took advantage of defensive strongholds throughout the remainder of the contest.
   The Lady Warriors got a single from Mandy Byrd and a double from Leanna Howell in the contest, but never capitalized on their chances.
   Wendy Woods and Natalie Lockner added hits for Unicoi County, which remains undefeated in conference play, with their only losses coming out of state.
   "We did some good things defensively," said Unicoi County coach Charlie Baxter. "We hit the ball well at times early, but we knew it would be a tough game."
   Both teams showed why they could possibly meet late during postseason play this season. The loss is Happy Valley's second, but it should fuel its fire for the remainder of the year.
   Added Killen: "We've got to try to keep going and concentrate on every game. We want to win out the rest of the season."
   Huskins led Unicoi County behind the bats, going two of three with an RBI and a run during the contest.
   Both teams will have their hands full tomorrow, as Unicoi County hosts Johnson County on the Lady Devil Diamond, while the Lady Warriors (6-2) host Hampton. Both games begin at 4:30 p.m.