Getting a wakeup call… Lady Rangers bats come alive to down Gibson County in eight innings, 5-3

Published 5:18 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2019

MURFREESBORO— Sometimes in big softball games, especially those that could mean the end of your season if you lose, a simple hit or two can lift a team’s spirits and create a ton of confidence.

That was the scenario for the Unaka Lady Rangers who finally broke the chill off their bats and as a result lived to play another day while eliminating the Lady Pioneers of Gibson County from the TSSAA Spring Fling Class A Softball Championships with an eight inning, 5-3 decision.

The game could have ended sooner but the Lady Rangers left the bases juiced at least three different occasions before finally breaking through.

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Unaka, playing as the visitor, built a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the sixth before the Lady Pioneers scored single runs in the bottom half of the sixth and seventh innings to tie things up at 3-3 to force an extra inning of baseball.

Taylor Shanks got things going Unaka’s way in the top of the eighth when she led off the inning with a single to center field.

Tayla Potter went down swinging for the first out of the inning and was followed by a Kendall Bare single putting Lady Rangers at first and second.

Kiki Forney came in to run for Bare and Madison Pierce worked a walk from the Lady Pioneers on four straight pitches to load the bases once again.

Things got tighter for the ladies from Stoney Creek when Sadie Shoun went down swinging for the second out of the inning.

Erika Potter, who has played in several tight-knit games as a Lady Ranger, didn’t falter at her chance of lifting her team as she slapped a double to left field that brought both Shanks and Forney to the plate for a 5-3 Unaka advantage.

The Lady Pioneers finally managed to get out of the inning on a line-drive out off the bat of

Noelle Collins to set up the final half inning.

Things got a little unsettling in the bottom of the eighth as the Lady Rangers quickly retired the first batter of the inning on a fly out before Emery Presley took a Shoun pitch for a double.

Shoun enticed Molly Lamar into a pop out to shortstop Pierce for the second out leaving the Lady Rangers just one out short of another game in the tournament.

Brittney Kolwyck wasn’t about to be the final out for Gibson County as she laced a single to put Lady Pioneers at the corners with two outs.

The game was sealed when Macey Neal grounded into a fielder’s choice to Collins at second who flipped to shortstop Pierce to give the Lady Rangers the hard-fought victory.

Erika Potter and Shanks led the hit parade for the Rangers collecting three hits apiece in the 11-hit contest for Unaka.

Lilie Kiser had a solid day going 2-for-2 at the plate while Pierce, Kailey Wilson, and Bare added one hit each in the victory.

Wilson pitched the first six innings of the game for Unaka allowing only two runs on six hits with one walk and two strikeouts.

Shoun came on in relief covering the final two innings allowing one run on four hits with no walks or strikeouts.

Unaka head coach Kenneth Chambers knew what the secret was to get his team going and it started at the plate.

“We finally got a couple of hits and scored our first runs,” stated Chambers. “After that we realized that we could play.

“We left the bases loaded three times and on that fourth time Erika (Potter) got the double. Our whole team needs to understand that everyone needs to hit.

“It seems to be different every game because we go through spells where the whole team hits together and we will do pretty good,” Chambers continued.

“We start four or five freshmen and I am sure they are nervous to be at this level and then we have seniors who have been here and don’t want it to end.”

The Lady Rangers will take on the loser of the Whitwell and Columbia Academy contest on Thursday at 10 am CST.

Whitwell was the team that eliminated the Lady Rangers from the tournament last year.


Unaka, 5-3

Unaka           010  110  02 – 5  11  2

Gibson Co.   000  101  10 – 3  10  2

WP: Shoun. LP: Garner.