Ramblers finish strong in SEAA World Series

Asst. Sports Editor

  The Carter County Ramblers finished up their regular season 40-19, and finished runners-ups in the SEAA 10 and under Fast Pitch World Series held this past week in Pigeon Forge.
  That is not a bad start for this very young team comprised mostly of first-year fast pitch players. Head coach David Baines wanted the girls to experience the move up to fast pitch and to learn their lessons early on. In their first tournament, the team went 2-for-4 games.
  "We put them in deep water right off the bat," Baines said. "Most of them had played recreation league or slow pitch, and they just wasn't ready for fast pitch. Mentally they weren't ready. Once they got their first hit, they got a little confident. The longer we played, the better they got. Now they can play with anybody."
  "The biggest thing about our team is that they are close," he said. "You never heard one get jealous or fuss at the other one. They just took up with each other and had so much fun. That was the best thing about coaching them. Our team was a team, and that made a world of difference."
  "The parents were great, too. If they are not in it a full 100 percent then it makes it tough on the coaches. If they are not behind the team, it divides things but we didn't have that problem."
  The Ramblers faced the Dacula, Ga. Falcons in the finals of the winners bracket this past Sunday morning and lost a classic by the score of 2-1.
  The game was scoreless thanks to stellar defense by both squads until the top of the sixth inning, when the Ramblers drew first blood. Kayla Sanders led off the inning with a walk. Taylor Byars then pinch ran for her and eventually scored the go ahead run on a two-out RBI single by Jessie Wheelock.
  The lead would not hold up as the Falcons battled back in the bottom of the frame and score two tuns with the game-winning hit coming on a two-out double over the outstretched glove of hard charging left fielder Sanders. Lacey Huskins was the hard luck loser, pitching six strong innings giving up only two hits while striking out six.
  Kat McInturff, Hannah Blevins and Wheelock all had hits for the Ramblers.
  The loss sent the Ramblers to play the Florida Diamond Fire with the winner of this contest getting a crack at the Falcons for the championship.
  The Ramblers started out hot against the Diamond Fire, batting around in the first inning which produced six runs and added another in the second and held on for the 7-6 victory.
  Leaders at the plate for the Ramblers were Natalie Steffey who went 2-for-2 with two RBIs and one run. Lacey Huskins went 2-for-3 with one RBI and two runs. Kayla Sanders went 1-for-2 with a double, a run and two RBIs. Allison Turbyfield also want 1-for-2 with a double and two RBIs. Jamie Andrews went 1-for-2 with a run. Jessee Wheelock went 1-for-3 with a run and Kat McInturff walked and scored a run.
  Kristen Powell started and took the win on the mound, while Huskins came in and recorded a save by holding the Diamond Fire scoreless for the final two innings.
  The win set up the rematch with the Flacons for the championship, which turned out to be another barn burner. The Falcons drew first blood by scoring an unearned run in the bottom of the first.
  It turned out to be the only run scored as both teams turned in one stellar defensive play after another as the Falcons prevailed 1-0.
  The Ramblers left seven runners stranded, which turned out to be their Achilles heal, but battled admirably till the final out was made with time running out as they retired the Falcons in the bottom of the fifth.
  Jamie Andrews pitched a gem in defeat going the distance and getting stronger as the contest went along, striking out two of the three batters she faced in the final frame.
  "We were the best hitting team down there," Baines said. "We had the best pitcher down there. Our second pitcher was as good as anybody's No. 1 pitcher. Defensively, we were good, but the team that beat us was a little better. These girls have had a blast."