Lady Warriors see season end at Gibbs

By Matt Hill

   CORRYTON -- Just like Mariah Carey, the Happy Valley softball team gave it their all in Class AA sub-state action Friday afternoon against Knox Gibbs.
   And even though things didn't quite go Happy Valley's way in the contest, the Lady Warriors have let Northeast Tennessee know that they are going to be state tournament contenders for the next couple of years.
   The Lady Warriors saw their season end with an 11-1 loss at Gibbs, but Happy Valley head coach Karri Killen was proud of the way her young team competed.
   "I can't take anything away from them," Killen said. "They played hard to get to this point."
   Gibbs came out on fire in the first inning, and showed why it has one of the top softball traditions in the state of Tennessee.
   Gibbs scored eight runs in that frame on nine hits. Included in that onslaught was a home run by Jennifer Moore.
   Killen thought that starter Alicia Dick and reliever Kortney Goulds did well under the circumstances.
   "Alicia and Kortney both threw the ball well," Killen said. "They just weren't getting the calls. When you have a shrunken strike zone you can't do anything but put it in there. They weren't getting the corners here or there, and if you put it over the plate on a good team they are going to hit the ball. That's what they did. We hit it, but they had a few more hits than we did."
   Gibbs added three more insurance runs in the fourth, but Happy Valley for the most part put the clamps on Gibbs after the first inning. The Lady Warriors gave up only two hits after the first inning of play.
   "They played well," Killen said. "They really did. The 11-1 score doesn't do them justice."
   The Lady Warriors got on the scoreboard in the fifth when Jeanie Hawkins' sacrifice brought in Brandi Dugger to bring the score to its final tally of 11-1. The game was called after the top of the fifth due to the mercy rule.
   Killen thought her team didn't give up when down 8-0.
   "They have a lot of heart and a lot of determination," Killen said. "They know they're a lot better than what people give them credit for. And they're not going to give up. That's how they've gotten as far as they have is that they haven't given up on anything no matter what the score is.
   "That's the most important thing that I see is that they won't give up. They have that determination, and that's what has carried them so far."
   Killen is also happy with how her team did a complete turnaround during the year. The Lady Warriors started out struggling, but rallied back to make it one game away from going to Chattanooga.
   "We were struggling a little bit," Killen said. "We started out pretty rough, but we settled down and started playing, and we turned it around 180 degrees. We did a half circle, and got things going on the right track. I think that was part of their determination and their heart and their willingness to play. They want to win."
   And the Lady Warriors do have the talent returning next season to make it back to this point, and maybe make it to the Spring Fling. Killen doesn't have one senior on the team.
   "I start four freshmen, four sophomores and one junior," Killen said. "We'll have two or three seniors next year, and one that has a starting position. We'll start all over on a new season. But next year we're mostly going to be juniors and sophomores. We have a young team. We're not losing anybody, so we're going to be just as tough I hope."
   Mandy Byrd, Kate Powell, Leanna Howell, Dugger and Hawkins each had hits for Happy Valley. Meaghan McNutt, Britani Hobby and Moore each had two hits for Knox Gibbs.