Hardin, Keith share coaching award

from staff reports

  At the beginning of the 2004 high school softball season, nobody expected the Elizabethton Lady Cyclones to reach the sub-state, or expect the Cloudland Lady Highlanders to more than quadruple their win total of the previous three seasons combined.
  All of that is partially due to the addition of new coaches.
  Elizabethton coach Ken Hardin and Cloudland coach Gary Keith lead the way as Co-Coaches of the Year in the Elizabethton STAR's All-Carter/Johnson Softball team for 2004.
  Hardin's Lady Cyclones finished the season playing their best ball around the tournament. Elizabethton finished second in the district and region before falling to eventual state champion Lenoir City in the sub-state round with a 22-10 overall record.
  Keith took over a Cloudland team that had only won less than a handful of games in the three seasons before he took over. This past year, the team won a remarkable 13 games.
  Earning her second Player-of-the-Year award is Happy Valley pitcher and infielder Alicia Dick.
  The Milligan signee capped off a senior year with a good winning record on the mound (9-4), and posted a brilliant ERA (0.70) in 110 innings of work. She struck out 89 hitters on the year, and her batting average stood at .350.
  There were several underclassmen that showed promise for the next couple of seasons, but few were arguably as tough as Elizabethton's Jessica Robinson, who earns the Most Promising Underclassman award for this season.
  Robinson excelled as a pitcher for the Lady Cyclones during her sophomore year, with a solid bat behind her to help lead the team to its success.
  An array of Lady Cyclones and Unaka Lady Rangers make the first and second teams this season after sub-state performances.
  Happy Valley also has its share of players after tying with Unicoi County for the Watauga Conference crown.
  The infield on the first team is mostly covered in maroon. Aside from Elizabethton's Lana Blevins at shortstop, three Unaka ladies hold positions.
  Julie Roberson takes the field at first, Jessica Moffitt at second and Brittany Taylor at third.
  Happy Valley's Terra Whaley (left field), Elizabethton's Kristie Keys (center field) and Johnson County's Kayla Lewis (right field) make up the outfield.
  Behind the plate is Lady Warrior Mandy Byrd, who finished a solid high school career at Happy Valley.
  Starting on the mound is Unaka's Dani Williams and Happy Valley's Kortney Goulds.
  Both compiled solid records during their careers with their programs, and both stellar athletes will pursue collegiate careers, with Goulds going toward cross country.
  In relief, Cloudland's Kayla Blevins and Elizabethton's Mary Edgar are listed. Both players were standouts in the field and delivered clutch hits, but were very efficient on the mound.
  At designated hitter, Elizabethton's home-run slugging Katie Hubbard brings her powered offense to the plate.
  On the second team, Happy Valley's Jessica Blevins (first base), Cloudland's Daranda Byrd (second base), Johnson County's Amanda Dowell (shortstop) and Elizabethton's Tia Nave (third base) rounds up the infield.
  In the outfield, Elizabethton's Maggie Austin (left), Hampton's Lacey Oliver (center) and Cloudland's Jamie Icenhour (right) hold positions.
  Unaka sophomore Ryann Musick is the second team starter on the mound, while teammate Megan Heaton is behind the plate.
  Hampton's Heather Chambers and Cloudland's Tryphena Denton come in as reserve pitchers, while Happy Valley's Kate Powell is the designated hitter.