Lady Rangers fall to UH’s big innin
Published 10:18 pm Wednesday, March 18, 2015
BY ALLEN LAMOUNTAIN
On Wednesday afternoon at Indian Trails Middle School the Unaka Lady Rangers dug themselves a hole they could only partially climb out of. Trailing 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth Unaka gave up a seven run explosion to University High and fell 9-6 to the Lady Buccaneers in a Watauga Valley Conference contest.
UH (2-1, 1-1 WVC) struck for a pair of runs against Unaka sophomore pitcher Sarah Hardin in the last of the first. Madi Freeman led off with a single between pitcher and catcher and Lexi Crouthers dropped a sacrifice bunt to move Freeman up a base.
First baseman Molly Cohee then singled to center to plate Freeman and one out later she moved to third on a base hit from Miranda Honeycutt. Catcher Molly Dison then drove in a run with a single to center to give UH a 2-0 lead.
In the top of the fourth freshman Sarah Tipton worked Crouthers for a free pass. She came around when Hardin’s single was mishandled by the Lady Bucs outfield and Tipton scored from first base on the play with Hardin going all the way to third.
Crouthers was able to retire the next two Lady Rangers hitters to keep her team in the lead at 2-1. In the bottom of the frame the wheels fell off the wagon for Unaka as Hardin plunked Abby Jones to open the stanza.
After striking out Olivia Miller, Hardin then walked pinch hitter Riley Williams and Freeman’s single to left loaded the bases for UH. Crouthers walked to drive in a run and keep the bases juiced and forced Rangers head coach Kayla Clawson to go to freshman Corie Schuettler in relief.
“When you have backup why not use it,” Clawson said. “We had quite a bit of walks just before I took her out. Overall, the pitchers are going to have to eliminate their walks. We are going to have to get in a groove and get consistent with our hitting.”
Unfortunately, Schuettler came in against a hot hitter in Cohee and she lifted a single to shallow right field that brought home two runs and gave the Bucs a 5-0 lead. The Lady Bucs weren’t through yet as Ari Ramsarin walked to load the bases once again.
Honeycutt drove home a pair of runs with a single to left and a throwing error allowed both runners to move into scoring position. Schuettler then struck out Dison, but Jones singled to center on a two strike count to stake UH to a 9-1 lead.
“Our seven, eight and nine hitters are all eighth graders,” Lady Bucs head coach Keith Jeffers said. “Our one through six are all returning players. They were not necessarily starters but they all played some last year. This is our third game and she struggled in the first two but Molly Cohee made good contact today and hit the ball hard.”
Cohee finished the game 4-for-4 with four runs batted in.
“I was just going up there thinking base hits,” Cohee said. “Especially after that tough loss to North Greene, I knew that I had to be a leader and get on base. It was our second straight conference game and scoring first and getting on top was important.”
Unaka (2-4, 0-1 WVC) got a run back in the top of the fifth when Taylor Dilks doubled to center and scored on a base hit by Chelsea Grubb to cut the lead to 9-2.
Schuettler settled down in her next inning of work retiring UH in order, but the Ranger bats remained mostly silent until the top of the seventh. Brooke and Renya Austin opened the inning with back-to-back hits and one out later Dilks was hit by a pitch to load the bases for Unaka.
Grubb brought a run home with a ground ball to second and Tipton dropped a double over the head of Cohee at first base to plate two more runs for a 9-5 game. Freshman catcher Katlyn Weaver then singled to left center to bring Tipton around and cut the gap to 9-6.
That would be as close as the Rangers got as Hardin hit a hard grounder to short and was thrown out to end the game.
“What we had as far as hitting in the seventh inning today, we have to put that together and play a full game,” Clawson said. “We can’t do this hit and miss thing, we have to put together seven strong innings.”
University High 9-5
Unaka 000 110 4 – 6 9 1
UH 200 700 x – 9 11 1
W – Crouthers L – Hardin
U – Hardin, Schuettler (4) and Weaver. UH – Crouthers and Dison.
E – U 1, UH 1. LOB U 5, UH 7. 2B – Dilks