Lady Warriors survive 'Horns

By Ivan Sanders

   When the television show "Survivor" is looking for a new cast to see who will survive all the obstacles placed before them, the Happy Valley Lady Warrior softball team might consider putting their names in the mix.
   After all, the Lady Warriors have experience since they survived the opening round of the District 1-AA softball tournament opener against Johnson County. Recording only one hit against Laura Peters, the Lady Warriors did what it took to eliminate the pesky Lady 'Horns by a score of 6-5 at Happy Valley High School.
   "We didn't hit the ball well at all today," stated a relieved Lady Warrior head coach Karri Killen. "I told the girls coming in that playing Johnson County scared me because it's hard to beat a good team three times in a season."
   Johnson County gave the Lady Warriors all they wanted and more as they opened the game by taking a 1-0 lead in the first. Andrea McQueen singled and swiped second base. Lady 'Horn first baseman Erin Payne poked a single to right that scored McQueen.
   Happy Valley pulled even in the bottom of the second as Kortney Goulds reached on an error and stole second. Goulds moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on an throwing error by Peters.
   The Lady Warriors then manufactured two more in the top of the third to take a 3-1 lead. Mandy Byrd walked and stole second and third consecutively to put herself in scoring position.
   LeAnna Howell was hit by a Peters offering and took second without a throw. Terra Whaley knocked Byrd in with a sacrifice fly and Howell motored home on a wild pitch to account for the offensive output.
   Johnson County responded to the challenge by plating three runs of their own in the top of the fourth. Deena Hensley drew a base on balls and took second.
   Payne picked up her second big hit of the game, a ground ruled double, to pick up Hensley. Peters helped her own cause by roping the second straight double of the inning against Alicia Dick to bring Payne home.
   Peters advanced to third on a ground out and scored on an error by the Lady Warrior shortstop to give her team a 4-3 advantage.
   "Johnson County is a really good team," said Killen. "They just hit the ball extremely well today and we didn't."
   Killen needed her squad to respond and they obliged her by knotting the score in the bottom of the frame. Brandi Dugger walked and stole second.
   Jeanie Hawkins recorded the only hit for the Lady Warriors on a bunt single that scored the speedy Dugger all the way from second.
   Neither team could produce any offense in the fifth inning and with the game drawing close to an end, the pressure now lay heavy on both dugouts to score enough runs to advance on in the tourney.
   The Lady 'Horns broke through in the top of the sixth. Payne continued her torrid pace with another single and was advanced as Peters followed suit.
   Payne took third on a passed ball to get into scoring position. Courtney Squires drilled a double to pick up a RBI to give the 'Horns a 5-4 edge.
   Once again, the Lady Warriors produced another tally in their at-bat. Dugger reached on a walk and raced all the way around to third on a two base throwing error by the 'Horn catcher.
   Byrd grounded out to second, but not before Dugger tied the score at 5-5.
   The pressure was on the Lady Warriors as Johnson County had the heart of their order ready to go in the seventh, so Killen made a decision to remove Dick from the mound and insert Goulds to face the big sticks of the 'Horns.
   Goulds did her job as she set Johnson County down on a three up and three down inning to set the stage for her team in the bottom of the inning.
   Whaley reached on a one out walk and quickly stole second. A wild pitch from Peters allowed Whaley to advance to third.
   With two outs, a fly ball that would have been out number three rolled off the tip of the Lady 'Horns center fielder to allow Whaley to score the winning run.
   "We were only a couple situations away from winning the game," stated Johnson County head coach Dana Smith. "This game was going to come down to the team that could take advantage of those situations and Happy Valley did."
   Happy Valley will square off against Volunteer on Monday night at 7 p.m. at Lady Devil Diamond in Unicoi County.