Lions Club not up to challenge vs. Unicoi

By Ivan Sanders
STAR CORRESPONDENT
isanders@starhq.com

   The Lionesses were on the prowl at the Elizabethton National Little League field and they were hoping for a gamely taste of Blue Devils.
   In game one of Junior League action, it was a case of the Lady Lions tucking their tails and going back to the cage after being battered by the fiendish bunch of Devils in a 10-1 thrashing in the five inning tilt.
   Threatening early, the Lady Lions looked to have something going after one out in the top of the first. Megan Heaton singled and advanced after Tia Nave drew a walk with both runners advancing on a wild pitch.
   After a deep fly out by Victoria Hopson, pitcher Jessica Robinson was hit by her counterpart from Unicoi County to load the bases for the Lions Club. The defense rose for the Lady Devils to hold the Lady Lions at bay for the inning.
   Unicoi County plated one in their at-bat in the frame using an Alisha Engle single and stolen base to get in scoring position. Sarah Bullpen drew a walk from Robinson with both Engle and Bullen advancing on a wild pitch.
   Lauren Hopson lifted a sacrifice fly to score Engle and give Unicoi County the 1-0 lead after one.
   Each team was able to get a runner on in the second, but a combination of good pitching and defense from each squad preventing anyone from scoring in the frame. The score remained 1-0 in favor of Unicoi County.
   Entering the third inning, the Lady Lions were in need of a score and got just what they wanted. Nave led off with a single, as did Hopson. Nave was forced at second and Hopson was able to advance on a wild pitch.
   Whitney Lyons ripped a single to notch the RBI by driving in Hopson to even the score at 1-1. Unicoi County wasn't too happy about losing the advantage so they came out with a vengeance in the bottom of the frame.
   Using the advantage of four hits in the inning and some good base running the Lady Devils proceeded to cross the dish six times to edge their lead to 7-1 after three complete.
   Micheal Oliver led off the fourth with a single and swiped second. Yet, the Lady Lions were held scoreless as pitcher Leah Love's defense backed her with solid glove work.
   Unicoi County wanted to make sure they had enough runs to solidify their hold onto the contest in the bottom of the frame. The Lady Devils added three more to their tally with the big hit being a double off the bat of Lynsey Canady to plate two of the three runs.
   Love came out with determination as the young hurler allowed only a walk to Hopson in the fifth and final inning of game one as she ended the contest on a strikeout of Danielle Hurt to seal the victory.
   Game 2
   Unicoi County................................ 11
   Elizabethton Lions Club................... 4
   The second game began much the same as the way the first ended with Unicoi County using a flaming stick to roll up the runs as the Lady Devils used six hits in plating four runs in the first inning before Ryann Musick was brought in to squelch the fire.
   Trying to rally, the Lady Lions managed to whittle away one run as leadoff hitter Danielle Hurt drew a base on balls to start the bottom of the first. After two consecutive strikeouts by fire-balling pitcher Lauren Hopson, Victoria Hopson and Chelsie Cox put together back-to-back singles with Cox picking up the RBI.
   Musick went down swinging to bring the inning to a close with the Lady Lions trailing 4-1.
   Doing her job on the mound, Musick managed to allow just a puff of smoke in the Lady Devil's second frame giving up only a walk to Sarah Bullen. Two of the three outs in the inning came as a result of strikeouts off the hand of Musick.
   Hopson was equally up to the task as she struck out two of the three outs in the Lady Lions portion of the second. Lana Blevins was able to deliver a nice single, but the offense was still sputtering somewhat for the Lions Club.
   After getting two quick outs to begin the third, the Lady Devils tried to get some offense going as Ashley Wilson hit a chalk-hugging single down the line at first and Julia Sherman was pegged by a Musick offering. Mikeal Oliver was able to make a beautiful snag on a fly ball to bring an end to the Devil threat.
   Needing a transfusion of offense, the Lady Lions received a nice dose in the bottom of the third as Megan Heaton led off with a roped single. Tia Nave was hit by a pitch and Hopson of the Lions drilled a 1-1 pitch deep over the head of the left fielder to score both runners and cut the lead down to one, 4-3 at the end of the third inning.
   The Lady Devils decided to reach back into their bag and drag out the flaming sticks they used in the first inning in the top of the fourth as they crushed seven hits to record seven runs in the frame. Marley Culler with a double and two RBI's and Bullen with a triple and one RBI highlighted the scorching outburst by UC.
   Feeling like they might need to call 9-1-1, the Lady Lions needed some help in the fourth if they were to stay in the contest. Hopson set the first two batters she faced down on K's before Danielle Hurt laced a triple down the right field line.
   Hurt raced home on a bullet by Heaton to chop one of the Unicoi lead, but that was the extent of the damage as the Lady Devil right fielder made a fine snag of a ball hit by Nave to close out the inning.
   Hopson led off the Lady Devil fifth with a savage double, but Musick was determined she was going to open the fire extinguisher to extinguish the flame on UC. Musick was able to entice Kala Hill into a strikeout and then Victoria Hopson made a whale of a catch on a fly ball in foul territory down the first base line to aid the cause.
   Heaton tagged Hopson out trying to score to give the Lady Lions one last shot on the night.
   Lauren Hopson just was too tough for the Lady Lions as she shut the home team down one-two-three with three consecutive strikeouts to end the contest and give Unicoi County the sweep with a 11-4 decision in the nightcap.
   "We just made too many errors in the field," stated Lions Club coach Mark Musick. "That was probably the worse game we've played all year in the field."
   Added Musick: "The only bright spot was the play of Victoria Hopson on defense. Give them credit they are a great team and played good defense while running the bases awfully well. We just didn't play the way we're capable of playing."