Lady Rangers rebound8:24 am | April 16, 2012
One week ago the Cloudland Lady Highlanders were riding high coming off a rare softball victory over Unaka.
On Friday afternoon at Hicks Field the Lady Rangers turned the tables on Cloudland with an 11-5 Watauga Valley Conference win behind the pitching of junior Leslie Colbaugh and opportunistic base running.
“This is probably the best game she has pitched this season,” said Lady Rangers head coach Carrie Stevens. “We have been working on our hitting, which has been slow to come around. But today we hit pretty good and ran the bases very well. We talked a little bit about them beating us the last time we played so the girls were a little fired up for this one.
“I told the kids to erase that game from our memory.”
Colbaugh was perfect through three innings setting down the first 10 Cloudland batters to face her before third baseman Kelly King reached in the fourth on a dribbler back to the circle that Colbaugh couldn’t get a handle on.
The Lady Rangers (4-2 WVC, 6-8 overall) put a three-spot on the board in the last of the first against Lady ‘Landers starter Hunter McKinney as Jessie Matheson reached second on a single to left that was compounded by a Cloudland error.
Unaka shortstop Kassie Winters dropped a bunt down the third base line that went for a hit putting Ranger runners on the corners. Third baseman Madison Weaver plated Matheson with a bloop single to right and Colbaugh reached on an infield error by Cloudland.
The error also allowed Winters to come home with the second run of the frame and Weaver scampered home when the third ‘Lander miscue of the inning came on a ground ball by Caitlyn Buckles.
“We had too many errors in that first inning and Unaka took advantage of them,” said Lady Highlanders head coach Kenneth Chambers. “They are a very good team and if you give them extra outs you aren’t going to win very many games against them.”
With King aboard in the fourth Cloudland (1-2 WVC, 1-5 overall) nearly made it a one run game as shortstop Summer Hughes drove a ball to center field that Autumn Bradshaw caught at the fence to halt a potential ‘Lander rally.
“I thought it might be gone at first but Autumn made a nice play on the ball,” said Stevens. “We didn’t want to let them back into it at that point, since we had built an early lead.”
In the bottom of the stanza Unaka once again took advantage of Cloudland miscues with Bradshaw reaching on a single to center. Bradshaw then showed her speed by scoring from first on an infield error at second base that put Jessie Matheson on third.
The last of six Cloudland errors came on Winters next at-bat which plated Matheson and Weaver drove an RBI single to center to give the Rangers a 6-0 lead.
The Rangers strung together four hits in the last of the fifth with Matheson driving home two runs with a single to center and Winters followed suit driving in Matheson with her third run scored of the game to give Unaka a 9-0 advantage.
Colbaugh – who had been cruising along – suddenly ran into trouble as the error-bug struck the Rangers in the sixth. With two away ‘Landers catcher Hope Baker reached on an infield error and King plated her with an RBI double to left.
King then scored as Hughes’ ground ball was misplayed by the Rangers to make it a 9-2 contest.
“We made our errors late this time,” said Stevens. “Usually we make them early and have to play from behind. Last night we spotted Hampton a four run lead and had to come back. We have been doing that a lot this year for whatever reason.”
Caitlyn Buckles drove home two runs in the Unaka sixth with a two-bagger to finish the game two-for-three. Weaver was three-for-four with an RBI.
For Cloudland, King had two hits including an RBI double.
The ‘Landers scored three times in the seventh on a pair of Unaka errors with Martina Presnell driving in a run with the only Cloudland hit of the frame.
The JV ‘Landers scored four runs in the first without the benefit of a hit, and Unaka tallied three right back to make it a 4-3 game after one inning with only one batter reaching on a hit.
Freshman catcher Lexi Perry had an RBI double in the last of the first for the only Rangers base knock of the stanza.
King had an RBI double in the second as Cloudland took a 5-3 lead. Cloudland’s JV extended to a 6-3 lead in the third as Rachel Sparks singled and scored on a Unaka error on a ball hit by Marissa Taylor.
Unaka plated two in the last of the frame but hope for a rally died as Perry’s fly ball was caught by Sparks in left to end the contest.
— — —
Cloudland 000 002 3 — 5 4 6
Unaka 300 332 x — 11 11 3
Cld: McKinney and Baker. UHS: Colbaugh and J. Matheson.
W – Colbaugh. L – McKinney.
LOB – CHS 3, UHS 7. 2B – King, C. Buckles.
Cloudland 411 — 6 2 4
Unak 302 — 5 2 4
W – Presnell. L – Winters.
2B – King, Perry.