Harriman withstands Lady Rangers

By Wes Holtsclaw

   HARRIMAN -- The Unaka Lady Rangers were down and almost out.
   Trailing 8-3 to the Harriman Lady Devils, Unaka rallied offensively during the sixth and seventh innings to come back and tie their sectional outing.
   But a blooper play in the seventh inning sent a Lady Devil runner across the plate, giving Harriman a late 9-8 victory and a repeat Spring Fling appearance.
   Unaka coach Ronnie Hicks was pleased with the way his young squad battled back.
   "I knew we could hit (Harriman pitcher Kristy Pollitt), I'm just surprised we didn't do it earlier," said Hicks. "I knew if we got here this year, we had a shot. Julie Roberson and Jessica Moffitt had excellent games, and as a team, we played one of the better games we've had all year.
   "To be down and fight back, we made our opportunities. I'm proud of how they battled back. I said earlier this year that we were sacrificing this season for the future. They stepped it up this year and I'm hoping for good things down the road."
   For Harriman coach David Cox, it was another cardiac moment late in the game as his squad barely pulled it out.
   "That was the same thing we did the other night against C.A.K.," Cox said. "If we could get rid of the mental mistakes and put a game together, we'll stand a legitimate shot in the state. I call these girls the 'Cardiac Kids,' because it's hard when they pull this stuff out late."
   Harriman opened things up in the first inning after Sherra Bertram walked with an RBI single from Ashton Pollitt. It set up a strong second inning in which the team scored four runs.
   Lindsay Bryant, Brittney Turner and Ashley Fuqua all walked to begin the frame before Kristy Pollitt delivered a two-run single, followed by an RBI hit from Bertram.
   Bertram scored on a wild pitch, giving the Lady Devils a 5-0 lead.
   Unaka came back in the third inning when Jessica Moffitt used an errored shot to climb on base. After two outs, she was positioned for Julie Roberson, who hammered in a two-run homer for the Lady Rangers.
   "(Roberson's) a hoss," Cox stated. "I told her after the game that she will play college ball somewhere for somebody. I don't think anybody's ever hit one out that far here."
   Harriman rallied back in the fourth with a walk from Fuqua and a single from Bertram, both scoring on an errored shot from Poillitt, giving the Lady Devils a 7-2 lead.
   Jessica Moffitt led off with a single for Unaka in the fifth inning, setting up an RBI hit from Megan Heaton, but the Lady Blues were right behind them.
   Jamie Brown singled for Harriman, when Brittney Webb bobbled a shot into the field, setting up the eighth run for her squad.
   The Lady Rangers looked down and out of it, but instead they began to rally.
   A Medora Carried single with a walk to Kristi Moffitt and a fielder's choice to Kelly Allen loaded the bases in the sixth for Unaka. Jessica Moffitt then stepped up and hammered a shot into center field for the Lady Rangers, tripling home three runs.
   A solid frame of defense gave Unaka one final shot to win or tie the game.
   Roberson opened with a double, with an error on the third baseman allowing Dani Williams to climb aboard. Carrier followed with a two-run single, tying it up for the maroon ladies, but two quick outs gave Harriman a chance to win.
   Brown walked to open it up or the Lady Devils, but Unaka recorded two quick outs.
   Brittney Turner stepped up and tipped one up in the air, three Unaka players ran to field the ball that dropped amidst the confusion, scoring Brown and giving Harriman the win.
   "I told the girls to be patient in the last inning because the more (Unaka pitcher Dani Williams) threw, the more nervous she got," said Cox. "We walked and Brittney came up with the clutch hit. I'll take a bloop and it was a key play."
   Unaka did some different things during the game and looking back on the season, Hicks was pleased with the way his team came along.
   "We started a freshman at third today, and this season I've have freshmen do things that many haven't done before," Hicks said. "Medora Carrier and Dani Williams handled things well today, but the trip tackles your legs and that always hurts."
   "I think we have a bright future, and after next year we may have so much talent I'll be in trouble," he joked. "I'm happy we showed up well. I've been through a lot of these (sectional games) and they don't get easier."