Lady 'Dogs succumb to Falcons

By Rebecca Pierson
STAR Correspondent

   The Lady Bulldogs took some hard hits on Thursday against the Lady Falcons of Volunteer. While the weather cooperated, the flow of the game didn't for Hampton, as it took a 16-5 loss.
   "Our first pitcher did pretty good, but we didn't make plays behind her to support her," Hampton head coach Pat Kelly said. "Things would have been different if we had made some routine plays that we normally make. When you have two outs, and a pop up, you can't close the glove on it. Those are tough ones, and then they score runs off that.
   "When you give a team like that a couple of errors or a couple of opportunities, they will take advantage of it and they did."
   In the first, Volunteer's Sherri Jones got a double off an error by Hampton shortstop Lacey Oliver which placed the second hitter, Kellie Simpson on third. Then pitcher Melissa Norris walked Ashleah Dykes, loading the bases.
   Brittany Mabe then hit a double with along drive to right field, earning the Falcons their first two runs. Mycah Arnold hit another double when she bounced another ball towards Oliver, bringing in the final two runs.
   "The innings were good for my pitchers," Volunteer head coach Jackie Strickler said. "Kellie [Simpson] hasn't probably thrown in two weeks. She had a muscle pulled. We were able to get her three innings of work and we were able to work Tierra Trammel, who came in. She threw the ball real extremely well. She has been hampered with a knee injury.
   "Overall, I am glad to see we played well."
   No one would score again until the top of the second, when Hampton's Kristeen Newbern hit a triple, pushing Norris in for their first run. Lacey Oliver would then sacrifice a ball to second baseman Sara Housewright, bringing the score 4-2.
   "I was happy with my pitchers," Kelly said. "I brought the second one in, she needed the experience. In that situation, it is good experience for her. We got everybody in the play today. We are mostly freshmen and sophomores."
   "My first baseman, Kristeen Newbern, is my only senior and I have three juniors. We are young, and we still make mistakes that teams make."
   Volunteer would earn four runs in the third and fifth, and two in the sixth and seventh to keep score in their favor. The Lady Bulldogs could not keep the Lady Falcon offense at bay and would only score once in the fourth, sixth and final innings.
   Strickler said that his Lady Falcons are fortunate to have the senior leadership they have, and that the Nashville Tournament experience has brought his team together. Volunteer will play again today in the Eastman Tournament.
   "We go where our seniors go," he said. "We have great senior leadership and I think it goes right down the line. They have been with us for four years and they are just outstanding young ladies. We have some younger kids, and they are beginning to step up."
   "To be not winning the games the way we want to, there is still a good attitude," Kelly said. "We are trying to convince them that they are improving, and they are closing the gap. Today wasn't a real good representation of the how well they have been playing, but we have had some real strong games and a couple of calls go our way.
   "We could come up with a couple of wins here and there," he said. "We are getting into the second half of the season, and they are starting to come together. They are playing good defense. We just haven't put good offense and defense together. When we do, I think we will surprise some people."
   Kelly said that it is only experience the team is lacking, and that the time will come when the conferences tough competition will pay off.
   "We had some strong innings," he said. "We will improve and just keep working at it. We play in a tough conference. There is no doubt about it when you have Happy Valley, Volunteer and Unicoi, who won the state championship two years ago. Happy Valley is a strong team. The girls see good competition and that gives us an opportunity to see where we need to get to."