Considered the pre-tournament favorites, the Lady Panthers (36-5) took advantage of two walks with a two-run double by Macie Stanfield in the first inning. The other score came off an error in the second inning. Unaka coach Kenneth Chambers felt his team proved they can play with the state’s best.
“The umpire called a little different than we’re used to, but he called the same for both teams,” Chambers said. “He was squeezing both pitchers and we gave up a couple of walks and then the big hit. But, the biggest thing is we’ve got to hit the ball. It’s been about every game I’ve seen played down here, the team that jumps on the other first comes out on top. It’s a loss, but we’re still here.”
The Lady Rangers (29-13) will play Whitwell (22-16-1) in an elimination game today at 11 a.m.
Madison Stott gave up just four hits to earn the win, but Unaka had a chance to score in the third inning with runners on first and third, and again had a chance to score later on.
Taylor Shanks went 2-for-3 to lead the Unaka offense. Lilly Kiser and Savannah Tipton came up with the other hits. Sale Creek denied the Lady Rangers a chance to score with a diving catch by third baseman Kristen Sharp in the sixth inning.
On the flip side, Unaka center fielder Sarah Tipton made a pair of athletic catches in the outfield and Tayla Potter came up with another out at the fence to keep the margin from getting larger.
But, the Lady Rangers’ post-game talk was about putting Wednesday’s contest behind them with a simple goal to just win from this point on.
“We’ve got Whitwell, a good solid team with good pitching and good fielding,” Chambers said. “When you get to here, everybody is good. We’re just going to come and do what we do, and I think we have a good chance of winning.”