That's the number of innings it took the Lady Rangers (27-10) to capture the Region 1-A softball championship with a 2-1 win over North Greene.
“Both teams played a little nervous at times but both sides made some great plays,” Lady Rangers head coach Kenneth Chambers said. “I felt our defense played great. We both made just one error and ours almost kicked us in the hind end. That was not an easy play on that last one. Over the shoulder going away — it was not an easy play.”
The play came with the bases loaded and two away with Rangers' first baseman Lilie Kiser at the plate. On a 1-1 pitch, Kiser sent a line drive to right center field with Katelynn Rector giving full chase. At the last moment the ball ticked off the tip of her glove and the Unaka celebration was underway.
Senior pitchers Corie Schuettler and Megan Whaley matched zeroes for 10 innings before the Lady Huskies pushed a run across in the top of the 11th inning.
From the 10th inning on, each frame started with an automatic runner at second base. Left fielder Kate Roberts dropped a bunt to Unaka third baseman Madison Pierce, who tried to throw the runner Kelsey Ball out at third — but her throw got away and Ball scored the go-ahead run.
The Rangers then knotted the score as Pierce flied to right to move the runner to third and catcher Katlyn Weaver's RBI single drove home Sarah Tipton to make it a 1-1 game.
Schuettler struck out 13 batters and walked two – one intentionally – while giving up just three hits.
When asked how much she had left in the tank after such a marathon performance, she said: “I was good, I wasn't even tired. I just wanted to win this game so much for my team. We needed this bad. I know my defense always has my back and that makes it good for a pitcher. I just need to let them make plays.”
The Rangers collected six hits in this one but stranded nine runners, including twice with the bases loaded. The third time, however, was the charm.
“We need to do a better job of hitting,” Chambers said. “We left too many runners on base, but I commend both teams. Coach (Danny) Weems does a great job with his team and it was getting harder and harder to beat them. I am super proud of my girls. Corie seemed like she could have gone forever; she never told me she was tired.”
Starting at 7 p.m., Unaka hosts Tellico Plains in Saturday’s sectional round. North Greene will visit Sale Creek.