Lady Warriors unable to stop Unicoi County

By Wes Holtsclaw

STAR STAFF
wholtsclaw@starhq.com

   After a loss to Happy Valley in the Eastman Invitational, the Unicoi County Lady Blue Devils were pumped and ready to go as soon as they got off the bus.
   Their motivation showed early in the winner's bracket contest against the Lady Warriors as they took advantage of some crucial errors with a big five-run second inning, en route to an 11-1 victory at Volunteer High School, securing a spot in the District 1-AA title game.
   The Lady Warriors were hit hard in the first inning after a solo home run from Danielle Huskins. A controversial call on a Wendy Woods errored shot scored Stephanie Byrd, giving the Lady Devils a 2-0 lead and the game wasn't the same for Happy Valley.
   The Lady Tribe will face off against Volunteer for a regional tournament berth at 4:30 on Friday. The winner will face Unicoi County in a 7 p.m. title game.
   "I told the girls after the game was over, we've still got to take it one game at a time, win, loss or whatever," said Happy Valley coach Karri Killen. "We're just looking forward to the next game at this point. Unicoi County has a good team and they put the ball in play. We've just got to step up and put this behind us.
   "Coach (Charlie) Baxter is an excellent coach, he's worked hard with them. They did what they needed to do. Our girls are tough and we're going to bounce back."
   Unicoi County got its biggest boost in the second inning with two outs. Natalie Lockner and Kellye Lingerfelt made it on base with a fielder's choice and a walk, with an errored swing from Jenny Peterson setting up a two-run double from Danielle Huskins.
   Unicoi pitcher Beth Haun followed with a three-run shot in the same position as Huskins' homer, giving Unicoi a quick 7-0 lead.
   The Lady Devils didn't let up in the third inning after a double and error to Rachel Edwards. Elizabeth Weaver followed with a sacrifice fly to tack on another run for Unicoi County.
   A scary moment in the game took place in the third inning, when Happy Valley's Jeanie Hawkins was at bat. She swung and hit a ball on the handle; however, it struck her directly in the face. She was forced to leave the game and go to the hospital, but is expected to be okay.
   After the incident, the Lady Warriors rallied in the fourth inning with a single from Mandy Byrd. Terra Whaley followed with a double, bringing Byrd around to make it 8-1.
   But Unicoi wouldn't let the Lady Warriors muster a comeback, as Peterson singled, with a walk to Huskins and an error to Haun to set up a Wendy Woods two-run single.
   Rachel Edwards followed with an RBI hit, giving Unicoi the 11-1 advantage and position for the win.
   Alicia Dick took the loss on the mound for Happy Valley before Kortney Goulds finished things off for her. Dick started after tossing a perfect game the night before, and Killen said she had confidence in both girls going into the game either way.
   "Either way, I have tremendous confidence in both of my pitchers," she said. "We've just got to play hard and make plays. We've got to bring a good team tomorrow and hit the ball."
   The Lady Warriors split with a Volunteer team, that beat Johnson County 6-2 on Thursday, during the season.
   Volunteer 6
   Johnson County 2
   The Johnson County Lady Longhorns couldn't overcome some simple mistakes early in their contest Thursday.
   Some base running mistakes and lack of capitalization on hits gave Volunteer an edge before the Lady Falcons took a 6-2 win in the losers bracket game.
   Ashley Bennett and Brittney Mabe scored two unearned runs for Volunteer to open the first inning. Both teams were held scoreless until the fourth, when a Kellie Simpson double set up a Kasey Gillam shot to take a 3-0 lead.
   The Lady Falcons came back in the fifth inning with a walk to Bennett and a Mabe RBI double. Sherry Jones followed with an RBI single and scored on a walk, putting Volunteer up 6-0.
   Johnson County fell to solid defense late in the game. Laura Peters was solid from the mound for the Lady 'Horns, but Volunteer stepped to the fore and punched it in the gaps.
   The Lady 'Horns got on board in the seventh inning after walks to Amanda Dowell and Peters. Rebecca Boney walked to load the bases before Terra Trommell replaced Simpson on the mound for Volunteer.
   Amanda Eichorn pinch hit a two-run single for Johnson County and loaded the bases again, but two straight controversial outs at second base when the runners appeared on before the tags ended the game in Volunteer's favor.
   Longhorn parents and fans were not happy by the calls that ended their season.
   "Calls like that don't matter when you're not doing what you're supposed to do early in the game," said Johnson County coach Dana Smith. "We never gave up and it was pretty apparent that there are some things that go your way and some things that don't. If we'd played like we did in the seventh inning, it would've been a different game."
   The game was the final outing for Johnson County seniors Rebecca Boney, Andrea McQueen, Avery Long and Deena Hensley. All four players showed heart during their last stretch of the season where they showed plenty of improvement all around.