Lady Jr. Rangers generate highly successful year

By Wes Holtsclaw

   The Unaka Junior High softball squad enjoyed one flourish after another this past softball season.
   Battling their way through some tough games, the Lady Junior Rangers gave Stoney Creek softball promise for the future with their 23-2 record and big wins over Happy Valley, Hampton, Johnson County, Gate City (Va.) and Bluff City to name a few.
   "The girls worked hard and were determined to win," said Unaka middle coach Tammy Taylor. "We had a good time and we won games -- that made a big difference."
   Unaka was led by strong pitching and solid hitting. A big key for that was the play of Sallee Taylor, who led the Lady Rangers on the mound.
   "Sallee's been working on her form with Jarfly Dugger, and she did outstanding for us this season," said Taylor.
   With a combination of athletes from Unaka and Hunter Elementary Schools, the Lady Rangers were a good unit this season and couldn't have been any better, according to Taylor.
   "We beat Gate City four times, which were big wins," she said. "Our biggest conference rival was Happy Valley. They beat us once, but we got them three times."
   "We had a tough time with them and it was fun for the girls because they are big competition in basketball as well. They were pumped up for those."
   Emily Asher and Brittney Westberry paced the seventh-graders on the squad, while sixth grade catcher Hannah Colbaugh was big for the squad.
   The Lady Rangers were led defensively by a strong outfield that didn't make many errors.
   "The outfield was always there backing up the ball," Taylor said. "In elementary and little league ball they don't back it up well. That was the most positive thing we did this season, other than we didn't have as many errors and balls thrown away."
   Unaka was also a good hitting team, especially in their short game.
   "We hit the ball consistently and did a good job on our bunts and sacrifice flies," Taylor said. "Danielle Buck did a good job bunting. She was quick getting to first and moved the other players around the bases."
   Logan Wagenseller, Kayla Winters and Erica Wilson also did a phenomenal job with the impressive team.
   Coach Taylor was pleased with the group's efforts during the season and is looking forward to the next squad that comes along.
   "We lost our infield after this season and a lot of eighth graders, so we will be rebuilding," said Taylor. "But we're looking forward to it."