Miscues hurt teams, and on Wednesday they hurt Unaka more than University High, as the Lady Junior Bucs took an early advantage in the Watauga Valley Conference race with a 7-2 home victory.
University High, now 6-1 overall and a perfect 3-0 in the conference, benefited from seven Lady Ranger errors while the Junior Lady Bucs had just one in that column.
All of the game’s nine runs were unearned.
“The team came through when they needed to,” University High head coach Keith Jeffers said. “Haley (Faulkner) was a little bit off on her pitching, but she got the job done.”
Taylor Treadway tried to put down a sacrifice bunt in the University High half of the second, but a wild throw combined with no one covering the bag brought home Mollee Cohee and Alyssa Fair. Cohee ledoff with a single and Fair was hit by a pitch. Treadway ended up at third on the play and later scored on a passed ball.
All that action came with no outs and Leslie Colbaugh was able to get the next three players to fly out. She went the distance, but seven unearned runs came in on seven hits. Colbaugh struck out a pair and hit another batter.
Cohee was 2-for-3 and scored twice.
Unaka was the beneficiary of Kassie Winters’ bunt in front of the plate with two Lady Rangers in scoring position during the third frame. University High catcher Belle Bright uncorked a throw toward first that bounced off Fair’s head covering the bag from her position at second base.
The ball bounced into the stands and allowed both runners to score for Unaka.
“It was a rough game to say the least, but the one bad inning was the only time they scored and was the only bad inning we had,” Jeffers said about the unit in the field.
Winters and Autumn Bradshaw each had two hits for the visitors.
The homeside threatened in the bottom of the third, but Bright’s fly ball to left was caught by Brandi Ensor and her throw beat Tanner Horton home as she tagged up at third for the inning-ending double play.
Four more Unaka errors combined with two University High hits in the fourth led to another trio of runs. Pitcher Haley Faulkner helped herself with an RBI single with one down as a part of the scoring.
For Faulkner it was her first of two singles on the day. In the circle she scattered five hits and struck out the same number as her record improved to 5-1. She gave up two walks as well. In addition Faulkner fielded her position as she caught three line drives hit back up the middle.
“We’re just so inconsistent, we played great yesterday (Tuesday) and turn around today,” Unaka head coach Carrie Stevens said. “We go out and throw the ball around like we don’t know what we’re doing. Yesterday we had one error and then today that’s all we done. We threw the ball around like sixth graders. We’re still learning, but that’s no excuse.”
University High returns to the diamond this weekend as part of the Eastman Invitational.