Lady Rangers look to contend despite losing key positions

Published 4:26 pm Thursday, March 16, 2023

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By Ron Marvel
Star Correspondent
If you were to ask a softball coach what positions you would not want to replace, they would probably list pitcher, catcher and shortstop. That is exactly the dish that Coach Kenneth Chambers has been served; on top of that, those players were all very high quality, high character contributors. “In your mind, you go into the new season thinking about what different scenarios you could put into place that might work, this summer we tried a few things, and we tried a couple of new things at the play date we were just at,” Chambers said. Coach Chambers is well aware that it will take a total team effort to try to replace what they lost. If there is one thing that Unaka has over a lot of programs is a well run JV program that is constantly pumping depth into Unaka’s softball program; so this team is better equipped to deal with these losses than most.
Senior Trinity Bowers will serve as the team’s A-pitcher, she is receiving a number of looks from various colleges “she provides leadership and experience, she’s on the quiet side so when she leads she leads by example’ Chambers contributed. She will be backed up by Hailey Gilman, Gracie Stout(JR) and freshman Kimberly Proffitt who is strong and has good velocity but like many freshmen is still learning control. Junior Jill Faust will work behind the plate, “she holds her position well and can be a strong hitter, we will need her to take charge on the field this year and be vocal,” Chambers said. Kendall Barton (JR) will be the primary first baseman she makes good contact at the plate. Lyndie Ramsey (SR) will make the move from the outfield to second base; she has quick hands and good range. Haley Gilman (SR) will move from third to SS “she is a strong hitter, and we expect big things from her this year,” Chamber added. A freshman will see playing time at third; Molly Buckles is athletic and has a strong arm.
The outfield will be anchored by Kylie Blevins(SR), who has been known to dive over a fence or two in her time at Unaka, “Kylie is a tremendous athlete, a great fielder if it is anywhere close to her she will come up with it,” Chambers stated. (JR)Mattie Salyer will hold down left field while (FR) Katlyn Dugger will hold down right. Haley Taylor will see a lot of innings in a utility role.
Outlook– With any other team that had the losses they have had in those key positions you would have to expect this team to be down, but you just have a tough time making that statement with an Unaka team. They are going to be playing girls out of position, and up to 4 girls without much high school experience will be called on to start, but Unaka’s feeder programs are very good; if they can get by the first month and give those younger girls some time to develop, they can be very good. Trinity Bowers brings a lot of experience to the mound and defensively they have very good team speed. While you may be hesitant to pick them to win the conference this year, you wouldn’t want to put good money betting against this team not only winning the conference but making a postseason run.
2022 Season Record 24-6
Loss in Sectional Elimination game vs Harriman
Key Losses – Alana Parson SS (All-County, All-Conference), signed Lees-McCrae; Kendall Bare C-(All-County, All-Conference) and Sadie Shoun P/Util-( All-County, All-Conference), signed Milligan College

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