Happy Valley bogs down South Greene

By Marvin Birchfield

   GREENEVILLE -- The Lady Warriors kept their tournament hopes alive by winning in the first round of the Region 1-AA tournament, as they blasted the Lady Rebels of South Greene in a 9-1 final on Monday evening.
   A third-inning hitting demonstration put on by Happy Valley put an end to the Rebels' season, when they managed seven hits to score seven runs.
   "It usually take us a couple of innings to get going, but we got some base hits to get people in, and finally we were able to put some hits together," said Happy Valley coach Karri Killen.
   The Warriors had a double coming from Katie Powell to start the contest, but three straight outs followed to stop the scoring opportunity.
   With a tied game heading into the third frame, the Warriors found some magic in their bats to explode by scoring seven runs.
   "We had hits here and there, but once we got our timing down we hit the ball well, and that's all I can ask -- to just keep hitting it hard because they'll fall eventually," said Killen.
   The bases were loaded with no outs, as Powell and Terra Whaley connected on singles, while Mandy Byrd was put on base with a walk.
   A hit from Leanna Howell and an error in left field produced the first two runs, with Powell and Bryd crossing the plate.
   Kortney Goulds ripped a shot up the middle to drive home Whaley, and a hit from Alicia Dick plus an error in the outfield brought in Howell.
   "I just tried to stay focused in this game, because it means a lot to just make it to the region, and we were looking forward to continuing on," said Goulds.
   A single from Jeanie Hawkins drove home Goulds to make the score 5-0, and then a ground single by Byrd brought the last two runs to the plate, with Dick and Hawkins scoring.
   "We've been hitting the ball really well lately in games against Unicoi and Volunteer, and the games with Sullivan North and Johnson County have really set our tournament off," said Goulds.
   The Warriors attempted to add a run in the top of the fourth, when Dick ripped a hit up the middle with Jessica Blevins rounding third-base.
   Blevins raced toward home plate, but a good throw from center field caught her out sliding into home.
   Happy Valley held off the Rebels' chance to score in the fifth frame, when a double by Kandace Ellison and a single from Heather Ricker placed runners on second and third base with one out.
   "Our girls didn't play like they had been doing all year long," said South Greene coach Terry Hoese. "We were 27-4, and today we didn't play good softball."
   A fly out to Hawkins in center field and a ground-out to Goulds eliminated the South Greene scoring opportunity.
   "We finally started hitting the ball around the fifth inning, and we hit the ball hard," said Hoese. "But it just seemed everything was hit right at them, so when things go bad, they go bad."
   A run was added for Happy Valley in the top of the sixth as Goulds hit a fielder's choice to drive in Byrd.
   "We kicked it around several times and they hit the ball well, but we just simply got outplayed and beat," said Hoese.
   Dick made her first appearance at the mound in the sixth frame, as she came in to relieve Goulds.
   "Kortney threw the ball well, and when they started catching up to make contact, then we switched to Alicia to finish up," Killen said. "I have confidence in both my pitchers."
   The Rebels made their first run of the game, after Dick threw a wild pitch, which enabled Heather Haney to score.
   Happy Valley's final run came in the last frame, when Powell hit a double to left field, which brought home Jennifer Osborne.
   The Warriors will next face Unicoi County on Wednesday, where they're efforts are focused on becoming regional champs trying to avenge their loss to the Lady Blue Devils in the District.
   "I think we are immediately going to start putting our game faces on, and it would be sweet to send them on the road in the sub-state," Goulds said. "We have the same capability that they have."