Lady Warriors dismiss 'Dogs
By Marvin Birchfield

   One step at a time is the approach the Lady Warriors have chosen, and they're already a game closer in their bid for the District 1-AA tournament championship.
   Happy Valley defeat Hampton on Friday in a quarterfinal game by a final of 7-0, and the way the Warriors have been playing of late, its odds of reaching first-place has a positive outlook.
   "Conference season, you start over with a new season, and you tell the girls you're 13-1 in the conference, well it's done," said Happy Valley coach Karri Killen. "Everybody starts out 0-0 and we had to get by this game first, and then we take it game by game."
   The Warriors didn't get off to the best start ever in game one, but a resilient Bulldog team fell victim after the bats started coming around for Happy Valley.
   It was a scoreless game after the first two frames, but after capturing four hits in the bottom of the third, Happy Valley was able to cruise its way to victory.
   Happy Valley scored its first run off a mistake by Hampton, as a passed ball allowed Katie Powell to come home.
   "We've lost a couple of tough games and sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don't," said Hampton coach Pat Kelly. "We did make some good progress today, and we're a young team -- I started five sophomores and a freshman today.
   "It's a pretty young team to go against the experience of Happy Valley, but we'll work in the off-season and come back strong."
   A line drive to center field by Terra Whaley brought the next runner across the plate, with Alicia Dick coming home for HV.
   "We didn't start hitting the ball until the third inning, and this game here should have been better than it was," said Whaley.
   The final hit of the inning from Jennifer Osborne drove home the last two runs, which brought in Whaley and Kortney Goulds.
   The Warriors had a lot to be happy about in grabbing their 4-0 advantage, but they also had much to be concerned with after Osborne had to leave the game with an ankle injury.
   Hampton received the same type of misfortune, when senior Christine Newburn injured her ankle sliding into third base, just like Blevins had two innings prior.
   Happy Valley added two more runs during the fourth inning, when Whaley smacked a double to left field, driving in Mandi Byrd and Powell.
   "We're hoping to keep this rolling and go on to the state, and I think we can make it if we keep our heads on straight and put the bat on the ball," said Whaley. "We need some big bats the next couple of games."
   Hampton had very few chances at the plate, as Goulds pitched the first five innings while not allowing any hits.
   "They had a great effort. They wanted to come out and have a good showing because they knew their backs were against the wall, but I'm proud they came out and fought," said Kelly. "They kept them scoreless for a couple of innings, and they got themselves in trouble a couple of times, but got out of it and gave a decent effort today."
   The only time Hampton had runners on base was in the fifth frame, after an error was committed by the Warrior second-baseman, and Goulds walked her first batter of the contest.
   "We had one error and one walk and that was it," said Killen. "As well as our defense plays as good as they're capable of then our offense will come."
   Hampton was unable to bring runners in after Newburn had reached third base and Lacey Oliver was at second.
   Goulds pitched her way out of the inning without any damage, as she threw a high fast ball to get the third out with a strikeout on Amanda Peters.
   "I really tried to work hard for the team, and we're really looking forward in trying to go on and compete down the road somewhere," said Goulds. "We had to get through this first game today, and me and Alicia both came out and threw well. We know where we need to be."
   The Warriors elected to give Goulds a rest after five innings, so they brought Dick to the mound, and she showed no signs of letting up.
   Dick totaled four strikeouts from the six batters she faced, as Hampton was never able to come away with a legitimate hit in the evening.
   "Our defense played awesome today, and our bats haven't really come alive yet, but they're going to start falling," said Goulds. "My defense played great behind me, and you can't win a ball game if you don't have defense behind you."
   The Warriors' last run of the night came when a grounder from Christy Shell got past the shortstop, which brought home Goulds.
   The Warriors will advance to the next round with their opponent still being determined, but it appears that the Warriors have to be one of the top picks after knocking off Unicoi County to tie for the regular season championship.
   "Our big win last week is over and done -- everybody starts over and we go at it like we've never beat them before," said Killen. "We still have to play our game and battle."