Lady Rangers succumb to Virginia High

By Tim Chambers

   Put the bat on the ball, throw strikes and make the routine plays and you'll always have a chance to win the game. It's what every softball coaches preaches.
   The Rangers got an outstanding pitching performance from sophomore Ryann Musick but sputtered the with their offense and defense, allowing Virginia High a come-from-behind 4-1 win Wednesday afternoon at Ronnie Hicks Field.
   "We only had a couple of practices where we had everybody on the field," said Ranger coach Ronnie Hicks. "Our girls were at the state tournament cheering on the boys last week. This has limited our work, but I we wouldn't have had it any other way."
   The Rangers had three girls sit out due to illness, and that hurt as well.
   Unaka jumped out to a 1-0 lead when Medora Carrier doubled and was brought home after Amy Colbaugh's fly ball was dropped, allowing Carrier to score. Julie Roberson laced a double that inning, but the Rangers were unable to plate another run.
   The music was sweet for nearly half the contest as Musick allowed only two hits over three innings. The Rangers got a single from Dani Williams in the second, but that would be their last as Bearcat pitcher Megan Branson was taking care of business on the mound.
   Disaster struck for the Rangers in the top of the fourth as Virginia High managed two unearned runs on three hits and an error. Jackie Wagner's double plated two runs after a costly miscue to give the Bearcats a 2-1 lead.
   Two nice defensive gems, one by shortstop Brittney Taylor and another by second baseman Amber Woods, helped Unaka escape further damage.
   Virginia High added two more unearned runs in the fifth after Musick had struck out the first two batters. Courtney White lined a double into left center and would score on an error, giving the Bearcats a 3-1 lead. Lindsey Branch's rbi single extended the lead at 4-1.
   Musick continued to mix up a good fastball with some nice off speed pitches that gave the Bearcats fits. The hard-t
hrowing lefty gave up no earned runs while allowing eight hits.
   Three of those were bloop singles over the infield. Musick struck out seven and issued only one walk.
   "Our goal is to get better as the season progresses," said Musick. "We feel like if we work hard that we can be a good team."
   Coach Hicks was optimistic.
   "With Ryann and Dani, our pitching is as good as it gets for Class A softball," Hicks said. "We play teams like Virginia High and other big schools to make our program better."
   The Rangers travel to North Greene today to battle the Huskies in a Watauga Valley Conference matchup at 4 p.m.