Lady Warriors lose heartbreaker in district championship

Published 10:32 pm Wednesday, May 6, 2015

by Bryce Phillips

Star Staff

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Despite keeping the game close, the Lady Warriors could not overcome the Unicoi Lady Blue Devils, losing 5-2 during the 1-AA District Championship Wednesday evening at Happy Valley High School.

“Districts are always very important,” Unicoi head coach Grady Lingerfelt said. “Our first goal is to always win the conference and then the district tournament. . . The district tournament carries a lot of weight, because it leads to everything else.”

After the Lady Warriors went scoreless in the top of the first inning, the Lady Devils posted two runs in bottom of the frame. With the bases loaded, Taylor Wright hit a grounder to Happy Valley first baseman Kenzie Davis, who tried to throw out Haley Webb at home. But Webb was too fast, beating the throw for a run. The Lady Devils scored again, with Cierra Jackson knocking in Abby Hensley, who had gotten on base with a single.

The game went through a scoring drought in the second and third innings. In the bottom of the second, Happy Valley’s Beth Reece made a big play when she threw out Nelee Griffith, who was trying to steal second. Pitcher Kalee Johnson struck out the next batter to close out the inning.

Johnson led the Lady Warriors from the mound for six innings, during which she allowed seven hits, while striking out four batters.

The Lady Warriors came alive in the fifth. Starting off the inning was Kaitlyn Roberts, who got on base with a double, before being knocked in by a single from Kaylee Street. Street also scored off a walk, tying the game at two.

However, the Lady Warriors could not conjure up the momentum again, going scoreless in the next three innings.

The Lady Blue Devils posted two more in the fifth, with Laughren scoring a run off a single by Jackson. Wright also scored in the inning when she tagged up and scrambled home during a fly out by Destine Haynes.

Unicoi scored one more time in the sixth, with Griffith finding her way home during a single by Hensley.

“We were able to battle back a bit,” Happy Valley coach Mike Dorsey said. “But we got rattled a little bit, and they took advantage of it like they always do.”

On Unicoi’s side, Laughren threw all seven, recording five strikeouts and giving up five hits.

The Lady Blue Devils were led in batting by Hensley, who went 2 of 4, with one RBI and one run.

For the Lady Warriors, Kaylee Street went 1 of 3, with one RBI.

After the contest, All-Conference and All-Tournament players were announced. For Carter County, EHS’ Chesnee Hammons and Maci and Happy Valley’s Kaitlyn Roberts and Kaylee Street all received honorable mentions.

All-Conference honors went to EHS’ Lauren Brickey, Emily Kiser, Maci Herman, and Abby McKinney and Happy Valley’s Beth Reece, Kalee Johnson, Kenzie Davis and Sydney Puckett.

EHS’ Kelli Cunningham, Jessica Cunningham, and Chesnee Hammons and Happy Valley’s Kaylee Street, Beth Reece, Kalee Johnson, and Kenzie Davis were named to All-Tournament.

Happy Valley coach Mike Dorsey was named Three Rivers Conference Coach of the Year.

Next week the Lady Warriors will enter the Region 1-AA Softball Tournament and play the winner of today’s game between Greeneville and Grainger.