Lady Rangers chisel out pair of wins

By Marvin Birchfield

   The Lady Rangers made a clean sweep on Tuesday by taking on a couple of Watauga Valley Conference rivals in preparation for their match-up against University High.
   "If we beat University High tomorrow then we'll share the conference championship, and if they beat us then they're number one and we're number two," said Unaka coach Ronnie Hicks.
   In Unaka's early contest with Cloudland, it was a lopsided affair, as the Rangers exploded out to a 17-0 lead after the first inning to post a 18-8 victory.
   "I hated to play two games today, but the way we were backed up we had to get these two games in, and that's the only way we could do it."
   Several walks and errors by the Lady 'Landers was the demise of their downfall in the early going.
   Brittany Taylor, Kristen Moffitt and Danielle Williams were all 2-3 at the plate for Unaka.
   Cloudland managed to score eight runs in the next three frames, but it was too little, too late with the Rangers gearing up for the next victim, North Greene.
   In the battle with the Huskies, the Unaka defense was very solid in coming away with a victory of 4-1.
   "I didn't think we would have that much energy to play both of the games, but I thought we played about the best defense we have so far," said Hicks.
   Williams pitched the entire seven innings for the Rangers, allowing just three hits and one walk.
   "We were kind of tired today," Williams said. "We played a game at 1 o'clockr, but we played two games and did really well, and now we are ready for University High," said Williams.
   Unaka enjoyed the early lead of 2-0 after the first inning of play, when three hits and an error produced the runs.
   A base hit from Megan Heaton drove in Kelly Allen for the first score, then an error at first base enabled Brittany Taylor to come home.
   The Rangers squandered an opportunity to score in the bottom of the fourth, after having bases loaded off of three walks with one out, but two straight pop-ups denied them from earning a run.
   "In our first game, we just walked too many batters, and in this one our pitching was on, but Unaka just outhit us," said North Greene coach Sharon Clark.
   Unaka stretched its advantage in the fifth frame, when a hit to right-center field from Julie Roberson put her and Taylor in scoring position.
   A hit from Medora Carrier and error off a throw to first base brought both Taylor and Roberson in for the scores.
   North Greene went on a drought at the plate, as Williams hadn't surrendered a hit since the first frame.
   "The heat probably started getting to us a little bit, but we played really good defense and hit the ball well," said Williams.
   Jodie Rasnake connected on a ground single, which advanced Bailey Morgan to third-base after she had got on base with Williams' only walk of the night.
   A ground hit from Haley Williams to third-baseman Tara Bishop and throw to first allowed Morgan to come home, but this was all the North Greene offense would produce.
   "We've had two really tough games now. We played Unaka 4-1 and University High 4-1, so this gives us some confidence heading into the District Tournamnet," said Clark.
   Unaka moves on to face University High on Wednesday, where they will attempt to grab a share of the regular season conference crown.
   "Even if we don't win tomorrow, if their pitcher doesn't strike 12 or 13 out, then I'll be happy, because that means we still have a shot at them in the district tournamnet," said Hicks.