EHS, Unaka bid for trips Spring Fling

By Tim Chambers

   If Carter County is going to send a baseball or softball team to the Spring Fling in Memphis, its hopes lie upon the Elizabethton Cyclones or the Unaka Rangers to get the job done. This won't be an easy task as three out of four teams take the road today in their most important games of the season.
   The Unaka boys will be the lone team to play at home in sectional play after winning the Region 1-A baseball championship with a convincing 10- 0 rout of University High. The Unaka girls have a tough task at hand when they travel to Knoxville to take on CAK in softball action.
   Elizabethton will test the sectional waters for the first time in school history as it journeys to Lenoir City to take on the (28-8) Lady Panthers.
   Elizabethton (22-19) at Lenoir City (28-8)
   The Cyclones have a tough task at hand facing one of the best pitchers across the state in Tommee Hicks. Just a few weeks ago Hicks tossed a perfect game against Kingston, only to come back a few days later and throw a one hitter against the same team.
   Sarah Vaughn, Andi Jackson, and Nicole Waller have been a key force on the offensive side, with each being named to the all district team.
   Elizabethton comes into the game hoping to knock off the Lady Panthers and earn their first berth ever to the state tournament in softball. Coach Kenny Hardin has only one senior on the 'Betsy squad, yet a talented group of underclassmen that feature Jessica Robinson, Katie Hubbard, Mary Edgar, Tia Nave, Kristie Keys, Cassidy Blevins, Abbie Jenkins, Sarah Smith and company are waiting to prove that EHS is for real.
   No one expected the Cyclones to get this far but this group of determined young women are looking for bigger and better things before they call an end to their season.
   Unaka (19-11) at Christian Academy of Knoxville (26-7)
   They say dynamite comes in small packages, and thus is the case with CAK's pitcher Mandy Brockman. An all state selection last season as an eight grader, Brockman has pitched on the varsity level for two seasons, winning 48 games up to this point.
   What's amazing about this feat is she stands 5-2 and weighs around 100 pounds.
   In the Region 2-A championship game against Midway, she threw a complete-game shutout in a 7-0 win. She has won 24 games this season.
   Emily Miller and Kristen Lusby are good hitters and can spray the ball around while Brockman and Karla Barker know how to get on base. Kara Hardin can hit with power but the best player on the team is Lauren Jones, the coaches' daughter.
   Jones signed scholarship papers to attend Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan to play softball. Jones and Brockman were all state selections in 2003.
   Coach Ronnie Hicks will decide between Ryann Musick or Danielle Williams to start the game on the mound against CAK. He could use both throughout the game. The Rangers will need to give their best performance of the season in this game.
   Brittney Taylor, Julie Roberson, Megan Heaton, Kristie Moffitt, Kelly Allen and others will have to step up and play their best softball if they are to make it to the state tournament.
   Look for Hicks to have Unaka ready in its state championship quest.
   Harriman (30-13) at Unaka (24-10)
   The road to Memphis awaits Unaka, but a huge roadblock stands in the way of Graceland and the Rangers. Harriman comes into the game with a 30-13 mark and support one of the top Class A teams in the state.
   The Blue Devils will send their ace Jason Eble to the hill to try and stop the Ranger express. In the three games Eble pitched against Rockwood, he was 3-0 while giving up only one run in 19 innings of work.
   Unaka will counter with Randy Swearingen, who can hit the gun around the mid-80 mark with consistency. Harriman offense is led by Tyler Miller, Jeff Hampton, Sam Cummings Allen Hall and Eble, but defense and pitching is what the Blue Devils pride their team on.
   The Rangers are starting to hit the ball well, with Chad Lewis, Rusty Chambers and Travis Pasquale a threat to hit the long ball at anytime. Cody Collins and Daniel McInturff have done a good job getting on base, which has seen the Rangers produce double-digit runs in four of their last five games.
   With Tee Blevins swinging a hot stick and Brent Huskins, Ryan Bowers and Swearingen starting to rip the horsehide, Unaka has a shot of repeating to Memphis.
   The STAR staff extend our best wishes to Unaka baseball and softball, Elizabethton softball, soccer and tennis teams, along with the Cyclone and Happy Valley track participants in their quest for a state championship.