Lady Rangers rally past Sullivan East

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, March 16, 2016

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Trailing Sullivan East by a run in the last of the sixth the Unaka Lady Rangers battled back against a pitcher that seemed to be getting stronger as the game wore on. Unaka (1-0 overall) scored single runs in the sixth and seventh to topple the Lady Patriots 4-3 on Wednesday evening at Ronnie Hicks Field.

East starter Kylee Wolfe had retired eight consecutive Lady Rangers hitters after her team had taken a 3-2 lead, but the young Rangers never quit on themselves and earned a hard fought victory in the season opener.

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Sophomore pitcher Corie Schuettler pitched well going the distance giving up seven hits and a pair of walks while striking out four.

“I hit my spots good and my defense backed me up really well,” Schuettler said. “When I hit my spots and we play good defense we win. My riseball was probably my best pitch today. My changeup is a lot better than last year.”

She also delivered the game tying hit with two out and Sarah Tipton at third.

“I think it was a screwball, but I’m not sure,” Schuettler said . “It was inside and I knew I had to hit that pitch.”

East opened the scoring with a run in the top of the second on a single by Hannah Gobble and a two out RBI single from left fielder Lexie Ferguson. Unaka answered with two runs in the last of the frame as Tipton reached on an infield error and came around on a run scoring hit from Taylor Shanks to tie the game at 1-1.

Savannah Tipton then dragged a bunt past Wolfe in the circle and with Shanks running on the pitch the second baseman went to cover leaving a hole and Tipton beat it out for a single putting Rangers on first and second. Catcher Madison Pierce then hit an RBI single to left to give Unaka a 2-1 lead.

East struck for two runs in the top of the third as Brooke McElyea led off with a frozen rope to right center field that went for a double and she came around to score when the next batter – Kelsey Smith – ripped a single back up the middle through the circle to make it a 2-2 game.

Wolfe singled for the third straight Lady Patriots hit to put runners on second and third and Alisa Timbs, who was sent up as a pinch hitter for Callie Justice, grounded out to third, with Smith scampering home on the play.

That’s when Wolfe began to go to work getting the Rangers 1-2-3 in the third and fourth innings. She surrendered a double to Pierce in the fifth, but she was left stranded when Wolfe retired Sydney Markland and Madison Weaver to keep East’s slim lead intact.

In the sixth Sarah Tipton dropped a bunt down the third base line that she beat for and infield single. She moved to second on a ground ball out by Ericka Potter and to third on a stolen base as Wolfe was striking out Shanks.

Schuettler then took Wolfe’s two ball, one strike delivery and turned on it and delivered a clean hit to left to tie the game once again at 3-3. Meanwhile it was Schuettler who settled down and began to dominate the Patriots hitters.

She gave up just two hits, a walk and hit a batter after the fourth inning and the Unaka defense made a few sparkling plays behind her as well.

“She settled down there and I thought she pitched well the whole game,” said Lady Rangers head coach Kenneth Chambers. “The pitching was good and I think the difference in the game was we made some plays in the field that was had to make and didn’t give up.”

Potter made a nice play in the fifth at shortstop when Timbs hit a hard shot to her right with Wolfe on a first. She knocked the ball down diving to her right and quickly recovered her footing and tossed to Haley Fair at second for the force play.

The Rangers won the game in the seventh with Pierce leading off with a walk. Markland bunted her to second and a ground ball by Fair pushed her to third with two outs. Weaver worked Wolfe for a free pass and Sarah Tipton stroked a single to center for the game winner.

Pierce and Tipton both had two hits in the game with Pierce’s double almost leaving the ball park, striking the fence just inches from the top.

Unaka 4-3

Sullivan East 012 000 0 – 3 7 1

Unaka 020 001 1 – 4 8 1

W – Schuettler L – Wolfe

2B – Pierce, McElyea.