By Tim Chambers
Tomahawk Sports Editor
Very few schools can compile an impressive resume like Unaka can in girl’s athletics. The Lady Rangers are currently favored to win their league in softball and could make a return trip to the state tournament like they did last season with a strong cast of upperclassmen returning. Johnson County is in a much different boat starting three freshmen, five sophomores and a junior along with one senior. The young Horns battled Unaka down to the wire before falling 4-2 on Thursday at Bob Kirksey Field. The Lady Rangers scored twice in the first but were held scoreless from there until the fifth. Johnson County had their opportunities which head coach Angela Blevins touched on.
“I thought we played well, but we can play better,” said Blevins. “We made a few mistakes on the bases and didn’t get key hits when we had people on. These girls are so close, and they work hard in practice. We’ve been in every game, and that’s all you can for as a coach from such a young team. I believe that good things are going to happen for this team if we can figure out a way to pull out a close one.” Blevins was correct on her assessment.
A two-run double by Erika Potter scored Madison Pierce and Savannah Tipton who had singled in the first giving Unaka a 2-0 advantage.
Johnson County’s Hannah Brooks would limit the Rangers to only two hits over the next three innings that kept them in the contest. The Longhorns sliced the deficit in half by scoring a solo run in the fourth. Singles by freshmen Emmy Miller and Maddie Edington pulled Johnson County close at 2-1. The Rangers would answer in the fifth by scoring two more runs that upped the ante at 4-1.
Johnson County got their last run of the game with its version of small ball. They took advantage of a walk to Cassity Lakatos and sacrifice to pull within a couple at 4-2 but couldn’t dent the board a couple more times. Unaka’s ace pitcher Corie Schetuler held the Horns scoreless in the seventh to pick up the complete-game victory. She ended the day with nine strikeouts including three with runners on that got her out of a jam. She gave up eight hits, but many of them scattered throughout the Longhorns’ lineup.
Hannah Brooks led the Horns’ hitting going 2-for-3 in addition to going the distance on the mound allowing eight hits. Natalie Winters, Bella Miller, Courtney Brooks, Lindsey Wills, Emmy Miller and Edington all had one apiece for Johnson County. Potter went 2-for-2 with a pair of doubles for the Rangers. Pierce was 2-for-4. Blevins remains upbeat despite back-to-back close losses.
“We’ve got the makeup to be a good team,” said Blevins. “We’re just a have to clean up a few little things and get a key hit here and there.”
Unaka 200 020 0 – 4 8 1
Johnson Co. 001 001 0 – 2 8 3
Schetuler and Potter. H. Brooks and E. Miller.
WP—Schetuler, LP—H. Brooks