Lady Rangers record pair of  wins in Azalea Invitational

from staff reports

   This past week the Unaka Lady Rangers participated in the Azalea Invitational Tournament in Summerville, SC, the nation's premier high school fast-pitch softball tournament with 38 teams participating from six different states.
   In the first game against West Forsyth (NC), a team with a 32-2 record, the Lady Rangers started out with two singles from Medora Carrier and Brittany Taylor, but those were the only two hits of the game for the Lady Rangers.
   West Forsyth scored one in the first, three in the fourth, and two in the sixth, with a total of seven hits. The Lady Rangers committed seven errors. Danielle Williams took the loss, striking out two.
   The second game on Monday found the Lady Rangers going up against another team with a great record, the 33-3 team from Bamberg, SC.
   The defense played a much improved game with only two errors, but again, the offense just wasn't there. The Lady Rangers had only two hits from Amy Colbaugh and Jessica Moffitt.
   Ryann Musick took the 2-0 loss, but she only allowed three hits.
   On Tuesday, Unaka faced Hannahan, SC. Musick only allowed two hits and had six strikeouts as Unaka won 3-0. Julie Roberson, Megan Heaton, and Taylor all had hits in the game.
   The second game on Tuesday was against Berkeley, SC. Unaka did a better job with the bats, having six hits from Roberson, Heaton, Tara Bishop, Moffitt, Taylor and Williams. A great defense helped get the Lady Rangers a 2-0 win.
   It didn't look good early when Williams walked three straight in the second, as everyone wondered if it was because of the hard hit she took in the first game on her pitching hand.
   With great defense from the team, especially Bishop on third base, the Lady Rangers won. Williams allowed three hits and had five strikeouts.
   The top 24 teams advanced to the championship round. Unaka was seeded first in their pool with a 2-2 record due to having the fewest runs allowed in their pool, only the second time the team has gone to the final round.
   On Wednesday, Unaka faced off with another South Carolina team, Fort Dorchester. Williams pitched four innings with Musick finishing out the other three. Williams allowed four hits and had four strikeouts.
   Musick allowed five hits and had two strikeouts, but again, it was the lack of offense and errors at crucial times in the game that led to a 6-1 loss for the Lady Rangers. Unaka had three hits, with a triple from Taylor.
   Coach Ronnie Hicks was pleased with the effort, especially the first two days, as all the teams in South Carolina are at the end of their seasons and have played 30 to 35 games.
   Tennessee teams are just beginning, and with all the bad weather, it just doesn't leave time for practice or games. After the experience in South Carolina, the Lady Rangers have a few things to iron out, but seem to be ready for the remainder of their tough schedule.