Unaka loses tight-fisted game to UH

By Marvin Birchfield

   JOHNSON CITY -- Unaka and University High made for a good Watauga Valley Conference battle on Thursday, with the Lady Jr. Bucs prevailing in the last inning of play at Kiwanis Park.
   "We had four errors, and let too many pop-ups drop that we could have got to," said Unaka coach Ronnie Hicks, whose team dropped a 6-5 decision.
   The Lady Rangers grabbed the early lead to start the game, when Emily Elliot ripped a hit to score Amanda Wilson and Danielle Carr.
   The runs were set up after an error by the second-baseman and a couple of walks loaded the bases.
   University High was shut out in the first two frames, as Danielle Williams fanned four of the first seven batters she faced.
   In the bottom of the third, the game saw its first tie of the evening, when back to back errors produced two scores for the Bucs.
   "We're really young right now, and it's going to take some time for our young kids to stop making mistakes," said Hicks.
   Cari Dobson made the first run after an error by the second baseman, and Ashley Carson scored when the first-baseman dropped a throw, which allowed her to make it home.
   "My older players are making mistakes too, and I depend on them to play smart," said Hicks.
   The Rangers reclaimed the lead in the top of the fifth, as they made two scores off of three hits.
   A single by Wilson and bunt from Jessica Moffitt put the Rangers in scoring position with no outs, then a couple of pop flies made it look as if Unaka might squander its chance at a score.
   However, Julie Roberson came up big at the plate to knock a double that scored both Wilson and Moffitt, giving Unaka a 4-2 edge.
   The Lady Bucs answered in the top of the inning to obtain their first lead of the contest.
   "We played a very strong game even though we made a couple of errors in the first inning," said UH coach Josh Petty. "We were able to come back in the fifth and make up with a couple of big hits."
   A single to right field from Ashley Carson scored the Bucs' first run of the frame as Brittney Carson crossed the plate.
   Another run scored when Duff Reardon smashed a triple to right field, driving home Ashley Carson.
   The Bucs finally grabbed the lead after Elliot was unable to find sight of a loose ball, allowing Reardon to come home.
   The Rangers came back to tie the game at five apiece when pinch-runner Medora Carrier scored while a play was made at first on a ground-out.
   Unaka's defense held in the bottom of the sixth as a ground ball to Alesha Buckles gave it the opportunity to make a double-play for the final out.
   In the last frame, the Rangers were unsuccessful in putting runs upon the board.
   Cori McVeigh started the inning by capturing her sixth strike out, and allowing just five hits on the evening.
   "I don't exactly know what her stats were, but McVeigh pitched a really good ballgame for us," said Petty.
   The Bucs defense resisted in allowing Unaka to capture any hits, giving them one last chance to put the game away before going into extra innings.
   The Rangers got off to a rocky start, as a hit to right field from Brittney Carson was missed in the outfield.
   Georgia Walker, who was called in to pinch-run, then advanced her way around to third-base with just one out.
   Jessica McNutt came up to the plate to rip a game-winning single down toward the first-base line, enabling Walker to cross home and give University High an emotional celebration.
   "This will give us a lot of confidence," Petty said. "Coach Hicks always has a team on top year in and year out. Hopefully we'll use this to our advantage the next time we play and make it another good ballgame."