Youth and experience — University High had the best of both worlds in a 10-0 victory over Cloudland on Monday night in the District 1-A softball tournament.
Eighth-grader Ari Ramsaran led the youth movement with a three-run home run in the third inning which bounced off the scoreboard at Betty Basler Field, and senior pitcher Haley Faulkner gave UH (21-13) the experience, allowing just one hit against the Lady Highlanders in the winners’ bracket semifinal.
Unaka defeated North Greene 6-1 in the other semifinal after Cloudland (3-15) took a 5-3 win over Hampton in a battle of No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.
“That was pretty neat to see her hit it off the scoreboard,” an UH head coach Keith Jeffers said about Ramsaran’s three-run shot. “That was something like you’d see in a movie. We’ve been working on hitting it hard on every at-bat.”
Apparently, the youngster has taken notice. She was 3-for-3 which included a pair of doubles before Cloudland decided to walk her on the final at-bat.
That didn’t work out either as Ramarsan scored off a throwing error to end the game in the sixth inning.
Faulkner did her part as well.
She was 2-for-3 at the plate and even more effective in the circle, giving up just one hit, a single to Cloudland lead-off Kelly King. In fact, that was all that kept her from a perfect game with no walks and eight strikeouts.
“I had my pill drop and my screwball working a lot,” Faulkner said. “We had to come out and do well this game to work towards getting better throughout the tournament. I’m glad we won. It was a good way to start the tournament.”
There was plenty of run support as the Junior Bucs had nine runs in the second, third and fourth innings. They had 13 hits overall with catcher Belle Bright going 3-for-4, Mollee Cohee 2-for-3 and Barrett Wherry 2-for-4.
“If we can hit like this, we will be OK,” Jeffers said. “We’ve hit the ball the last 2-3 weeks really well. We’ve just got to keep up hitting like this and we’ll be fine.”
Hunter McKinney suffered the loss for the Highlanders (3-15), who were hurt by six errors.
The Jr. Bucs will meet rival Unaka in a winners’ bracket final tonight at 7 p.m. The teams split during the regular season.
“Whoever wins that game is going to be in the championship game, so that’s a big thing,” Jeffers said. “It’s a rivalry that has gone back long before me. Unaka and UH, that’s something big every year.”
Unaka 6, North Greene 1
The Lady Rangers (9-9) scored all six runs in the bottom of the first to win the first winners’ bracket game over the Lady Huskies (7-15).
Brooke Austin was 2-for-3 to lead Unaka at the plate. Winning pitcher Leslie Colbaugh was 1-for-3 including a two-run single in the first inning.
Unaka had just two hits after the first inning, but it wasn’t for a lack of effort.
“We hit the ball well the whole game,” Lady Rangers coach Kayla Clawson said. “After we scored the six runs, we hit them right to people. But, we were hitting the ball hard.”
Colbaugh scattered seven hits over seven innings, and was helped by the solid play of her middle infield. Shortstop Kassie Winters and second baseman Alicia Colbaugh had a hand in 11 outs, either catching pop-ups or with assists on ground outs.
“Our middle infield is strong,” Lawson said. “They have been from the start of the season. They make a lot of outs for us. All-around it was a great defensive effort.”
Cloudland 5, Hampton 3
Winning pitcher Hunter McKinney helped her cause, going 3-for-3 at the plate and reaching base safely all four times.
Kendall Mabe and Kayla Alberts each finished 2-for-4 for the Lady ‘Landers.
“That was a good win for us,” Cloudland coach Kenneth Chambers said. “We’ve been playing a little better, doing a better job hitting the ball. We had to come out and be aggressive, and I thought we did a pretty good job of that.”
Carmen Calderon was 3-for-4, including a double off the left field wall for the Lady Bulldogs (3-17). Haylee Sloan added a 3-for-3 effort.
Danielle Guinn suffered the loss for Hampton. Although she had six strikeouts, she also gave up nine hits and seven walks.