Lady Warriors turn back Volunteer, North to gain share of Watauga crown

By Wes Holtsclaw

   After the 10th inning against Volunteer, the Happy Valley Lady Warriors could've given up on their shot for a conference title.
   The team, however, battled back in the 11th with strong defense and took the tight victory.
   There was only one problem, they had another game.
   However, Happy Valley fought through a comeback rally from a pesky Sullivan North unit late and went out with an offensive bang.
   It took eighteen innings, but the Happy Valley Lady Warriors earned the right to call themselves Watauga Conference champions with a 2-1 decision over the Lady Falcons and an 11-5 win over North on Wednesday.
   "There's no easy games, but I think they've shown so far that they're battlers," said Happy Valley coach Karri Killen. "They're not going to give up and they keep battling. That's how they've gotten as far as they have."
   The Lady Warriors share the conference title with Unicoi County, but will take the first slot in tournament action with the better winning percentage.
   "We're sharing with Unicoi and they're a good team, but these girls have worked hard," the coach added. "Finally, four years is going to pay off for them. This is a great group of girls. I couldn't ask for any better. But this is the conference and we're after that next step."
   It was a good way to send out the team's five seniors with their last regular-season home outings. They will get one more home contest with Hampton on the horizon to begin the District 1-AA tournament on Friday.
   "It was very big (to win today)," said senior Terra Whaley, who had five hits in the two-game series. "If we didn't win these games, then Saturday (against Unicoi) meant nothing. Saturday was the biggest game of the year for us."
   Happy Valley 2
   Volunteer 1, 11 innings
   The Lady Warriors came out with the first blow, in the fourth inning of the first game.
   Kate Powell opened with a single before Alicia Dick moved her around to third. It set up Whaley, who delivered an RBI single to take a 1-0 lead.
   The Lady Falcons, however, struck back in the seventh inning.
   Kelly Simpson walked and advanced to second on a wild throw. Sherry Jones singled her to third before a bobbled out gave Simpson room to tie it up.
   Neither squad mounted much offense in the eighth inning, but the Lady Warriors had a chance to win it in the ninth.
   Whaley and Jessica Blevins singled, with a Jennifer Osborne walk to load the bases. However, there were two key outs at the end of the frame to hold things steady for pitcher Tierra Trammell and Volunteer.
   Trammell pitched the entire outing for the Lady Eagles, while Kortney Goulds relieved Alicia Dick in the ninth for the Lady Warriors.
   Dick had strong start, only allowing four hits. She would later see action in the second game.
   Goulds and the Lady Warrior defense came up with some big plays in the 10th and 11th innings, as International rules came into effect with a baserunner on second until the game was over.
   Happy Valley cut off both of Volunteer's lead base runners in the innings.
   In the 11th, Dick was placed on base as the runner before Whaley and Goulds singled her around to third. Blevins came up with the hit of the day, driving Dick across the plate for the win.
   Happy Valley 11
   Sullivan North 5
   The Lady Raiders of North made a comeback effort against the Lady Warriors in the second game Wednesday, but they wore down defensively.
   North took an opening 2-0 lead after RBI hits from Nikki Trent and Taylor Moore, but the Lady Warriors fired right back with RBI hits of their own from Whaley, Blevins and Osborne to go up by two.
   In the third inning, Dick was struck by a pitch before scoring on Whaley's triple. Goulds sacrificed Whaley across the plate to make things comfortable for the Lady Warriors.
   Their opposition had one more stretch of offense in the fourth inning with RBI hits from Cheyenne Redmond, Anna Beth Dean and Trent to close the gap at one.
   The Lady Warriors didn't have an answer until their defense and offense stepped up in the fifth and sixth innings.
   In the sixth, Happy Valley squeezed five runs across the plate due to a pair of RBI hits from Mandy Byrd and Osborne, with a two-run single from Dick.
   North was held at bay in the seventh inning by the strong defense.
   Goulds started the second game for the Lady Warriors, but left the mound halfway through the stanza for Dick, who made the save.
   Whaley led the team with five hits during the two games, while Goulds added four. Dick, Byrd and Blevins added three hits each in the games.