One run enough for Lady Rangers vs. HV

By Marvin Birchfield
STAR STAFF
mbirchfield@starhq.com

   It's been several years since the Lady Rangers had the opportunity to celebrate a victory over Happy Valley, but on Monday that drought came to an end as Unaka shut out the Warriors 1-0.
   For the average fan who likes to see a lot of hits and action with a high-scoring game, the contest was lacking. But for those who are more appreciative on the execution of fundamentals and solid plays on defense, then you couldn't have picked a better contest.
   "I was real pleased with my defense, and that's just what I was looking for a good defensive team," said Unaka coach Ronnie Hicks. "We had one against Cloudland, and also against a really good ball team. In my opinion Happy Valley is probably better than any team in this area. I'm real honored we could compete with them this well."
   This game was decided early on in the first inning, when Medora Carrier started the Rangers off with a hit down the left field line.
   "I knew we had to do whatever it took to win, so I just played my heart out, and that's what you've got to do," said Carrier. "We had a couple of errors, but we got better and corrected them."
   It was a replay of last Friday's contest for Unaka, when Julie Roberson ripped a hit up the middle to put the Lady Rangers ahead in a scoreless game against Cloudland.
   Once again, Roberson connected with a hit up the middle to score the only run of the evening, with Carrier scoring.
   "It feels great beating them, and we've done great this year and our looking forward to going to Memphis," said Carrier. "I know we can make it if we play like we're playing now."
   Unaka threatened to add another run in the second frame, after Amy Colbaugh led off with a base hit, and Kristi Moffitt dropped a shot into shallow right field.
   The Warriors denied the Rangers by making three straight outs, the last one coming on a grounder to the first-baseman Jessica Blevins.
   Two uncommon errors were committed by the Rangers' first baseman, with one on them coming on a pop-up, and the other one on a catch at first-base.
   Fortunately, the mistakes were not a factor in the outcome for Unaka, as its defense was on its toes in making the necessary outs.
   "The defense was doing well, and we only had two errors, which that kid does not normally make them," said Hicks. "She's probably about the surest glove we have, and actually I did fielding percentages the other day and she was .993."
   Happy Valley captured its first hit of the night in the top of the third inning, when Kate Powell connected on a bunt.
   Christy Shell had gotten on base prior with an error at first base, but the Lady Warriors had no success in advancing their runners.
   The Warriors decided to make a pitching change during the third frame, as Kortney Goulds came in for Shell.
   The senior had a solid showing by not giving up a hit with her presence at the mound, along with collecting five strikeouts in four innings pitched.
   On the other side of the fence was the sophomore Ryann Musick, who showed no signs of weakness in all of her seven innings at the mound.
   "They've got great base-runners, and to hold them to no runs with runners on base is really good," said Musick. "We had a couple of bloopers, but we got it together and we didn't lose our confidence, so that kept us up."
   Musick only gave up two hits during the contest, which is highly contributed to the pitch calling from her catcher, Megan Heaton.
   "My defense played real well, and Megan called a good game -- she does a great job behind the plate," said Musick. "The one run that carried us through the game. You don't see that a lot and that was really good."
   The trouble for the Warriors wasn't so much that they were lacking in connecting with the bat, but it was the fact that all of their hits were either popped up or down on the ground for the routine out.
   "We couldn't find a hole right there, and they made the plays and we didn't push them to put any pressure on there," said Happy Valley coach Karri Killen. "We didn't get a runner to third base, and they've just got to step up and get the job done."
   The last hit of the contest came when Goulds grounded infield single to the shortstop, beating out the throw to first base.
   "This weekend with playing eight games four on Saturday and three on Sunday, we were a little beat and battered," said Killen. "I told the girls that it doesn't matter whether or not it was a conference game, we still needed to hit the ball like we did in the Eastman Tournament and they didn't do that."