Lady Rangers young, eager to prove themselves
Published 2:26 pm Friday, March 11, 2016
Not having made a trip to the ‘Spring Fling’ in five years, the young Unaka Lady Rangers may be ready to end that drought.
New head coach Kenneth Chambers brings a firm, steady hand to a group of players that has no seniors, but a solid group of freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
Beginning in the circle where junior Sarah Hardin and sophomore Corie Schuettler will split time, gives Chambers pitching flexibility as each brings something different to the table.
“I feel that Sarah and Corie and both very good pitchers,” Chambers said. “They have both pitched for a long time and I feel very fortunate to have them and confident in them when I call on them to pitch. Sarah throws a little harder and Corie may be a little sharper, but they both throw strikes and they support each other. There’s no jealously between them.”
The Lady Rangers finished 10-15 in the regular season last year and fell in the district final to North Greene in a tight 2-1 game which showed the team had made strides through the season and were playing their best ball at the end.
The Rangers lost four seniors from last years team in Brooke Austin, Cheyenne Drew, Taylor Boone and Taylor Dilks. In Boone and Dilks the Rangers lost some power but this team seems to be built more on speed and defense which may be better than the occasional long ball in its consistency.
“I know we lost a few seniors from last year,” Chambers said. “And that hurt us a little bit, but we have a good group of freshmen and juniors and the players we have all have played.”
Behind the plate will be freshman Madison ‘Peanut’ Pierce who proved her value the last two seasons as Unaka Middle School was conference champions and undefeated the last two years.
“Madison Pierce is going to be the catcher and I think she’s one of the better catchers in the area,” Chambers said. In the infield will be freshman Ericka Potter who could see time at shortstop or first base.
“Ericka Potter will see playing time in the infield,” Chambers explained. “We are still moving people around and she may see time at first base. But she is going to be a good player and will get a lot of playing time. I know we will have our ups and downs but I think with Sarah and Corie and Katlyn Weaver who played a lot last year, can give us some leadership and get us through some close games.”
Weaver will man the hot corner at third base with Sydney Markland at second base and Haley Fair at shortstop. The outfield should be much faster than last season with Sarah Tipton, Taylor Shanks and Savannah Tipton and as Chambers said, “Any one of three freshmen could be out there as well. Coach Clawson had them last year and she is still helping with the pitchers so I feel fortunate for that.”
Freshman Taylor Potter, and a group of sophomore’s including Tiffany Pierce, Cherokee Miller, Tenaia Woolwine, Kelci Bradley and Celena Jolly will all provide depth and with a little seasoning could move into bigger roles.
“We know the last few years we have fallen short,” Chamber said. “I think 2011 was the last time we went to the state, but I think this group is ready to compete and make a run at it. I know North Greene is good and UH is always good. This is a tough conference and we’ll have our hands full but I believe if we keep working and don’t get injuries that maybe we can get back to where coach Hicks had the program.”
14— TENNESSEE HIGH, 5 p.m.
16— SULLIVAN EAST, 4:30 p.m.
18-19— at Unicoi, Unicoi JV Tournament
21— at North Greene, 5 p.m.
22— at Hampton, 4:30 p.m.
24— at University High, 5 p.m.
25-26— Science Hill Tournament
28— at Johnson County, 5 p.m.
30— ELIZABETHTON, 5 p.m.
31— Eastman Tournanment
2— Eastman Tournament
5— HAMPTON, 4:30 p.m.
6— at Cloudland, 4:30 p.m.
7— at Eastside, 5 p.m.
8— at Sullivan Central, 5 p.m.
11— JOHNSON COUNTY, 5 p.m.
12— at South Greene, 4:30 p.m.
14— UNIVERSITY HIGH, 5 p.m.
15— at Sullivan South, 5 p.m.
19— SOUTH GREENE, 4:30 p.m.
21— NORTH GREENE, 4:30 p.m.
25— SULLIVAN CENTRAL, 5 p.m.
26— CLOUDLAND, 4:30 P.M.
27— at Sullivan North, 4:30 p.m.
29-30— at Elizabethton, Tournament.