Unicoi County cruises past Lady Warriors

By Wes Holtsclaw

   ERWIN -- Last week, the Happy Valley Lady Warriors were just one out away from a victory against Unicoi County.
   It was a completely different story on Wednesday.
   After five crucial Happy Valley errors and an array of hits, the Lady Blue Devils topped the Lady Warriors for the sixth time this season in a 10-0 victory at the Lady Devil Diamond.
   The Lady Warriors will travel to Lenoir City, which beat Gibbs 3-2, on Friday in the sectional round for a berth in the state tournament.
   "After we gave up five unearned runs, it was hard to come back," said Happy Valley coach Karri Killen. "This was for home-field advantage, and we've still got a game to play on Friday. There is no do-or-die until then, and you either go on or go home.
   "The girls have worked hard all season hopefully we'll get everything back by then."
   "I thought it was a well played game," said Lady Devil coach Charlie Baxter. "Our defense was excellent today. We put it in play throughout the lineup. These are two good teams and Happy Valley's as good of a team that there is in East Tennessee. That compliments as well as we played today."
   The Lady Warriors seemed to get off on the right track after an opening single from Kate Powell. However, things went downhill offensively.
   Unicoi County opened up with a shot from Jenny Peterson, who rounded to second after an errored throw. A double from Danielle Huskins set up a big two-run double from Beth Haun.
   The Lady Devils walked around the bases, sending Haun's courtesy runner across the plate for an opening 3-0 lead.
   After batting around in the first inning, Peterson was up again to start the second inning and it was the same thing over again for the Lady Devils.
   Peterson rounded two bases on an errored throw, setting up an RBI from Huskins. Haun walked, eventually scoring from a Wendy Woods single to make it 5-0.
   Happy Valley went three-up and three-down the entire course of the game, only grabbing another hit from Jessica Blevins late in the contest.
   The Lady Devils were held scoreless in the third inning, but rebounded in the fourth with another Haun double. Haun's runner scored on a sacrificed fly from Rachel Edwards, giving Unicoi more advantage into the fifth inning.
   Kellye Lingerfelt and Peterson opened with singles before Huskins contributed a two-run single. Stephanie Byrd followed with a double, when Woods ripped a shot up the middle scoring two runs to close the game for the Lady Devils.
   It was a disappointing game for the Lady Warriors, but Killen knows they must rebound and look ahead to Lenoir City.
   "We know we're better than that, but if you give a good team the lead, they will make you pay and Unicoi did," Killen said. "I wish them luck, and hopefully we'll see them down the road.
   "This year has been a big year for us. We have played with good teams and it's a boost of confidence to the girls that we are capable of playing anybody. We've got to go out Friday and play hard like we're capable of playing."
   Haun picked up the victory on the mound after tossing a two-hitter. She believes the team carried their momentum from the district tournament into the regional.
   "We were pumped before the game, in the locker room and the dugout," said Haun. "It carried over and we played really well out there today. We've just got to come out like this play hard on Friday."
   Having been in the situation time and time again with softball and baseball, Baxter knows the next test for the two squads is the most important to earn a trip to Memphis.
   "It's do-or-die," he said. "We've got to come out and play good on Friday, because that game affects you one way or the other. In the last four years, we've won two and went on, then lost two and stayed home, so we know how it is either way."