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Lady Rangers headed back to Murfreesboro

Allen LaMountain • Updated May 19, 2018 at 10:25 PM

ELIZABETHTON—Pitching and defense have carried Unaka since the postseason began and Saturday evening was no different. Senior pitcher Corie Schuettler wasn't razor sharp but she gutted it out — and her defense had her back once more as the Lady Rangers knocked off Tellico Plains 2-1 at Ronnie Hicks Field.

With the Class A sectional softball win, the Lady Rangers will make their second consecutive trip to Murfreesboro for the Spring Fling and state softball tournament.

“Corie has thrown 20 innings the last two days,” Lady Rangers head coach Kenneth Chambers said. “She might have gotten a little tired but each umpiring team calls it different. so she had to make a little adjustment. I thought she did a wonderful job and in the field we made all the plays.”

Unaka (28-12) scored solo runs in the first two innings and while Schuettler had just one three-up, three-down inning for the entire game, it came in the seventh.

Third baseman Madison “Peanut” Pierce tripled to right with one out and came home on a sharp single from senior catcher Katlyn Weaver for a 1-0 Unaka lead.

In the second frame, senior second baseman Sydney Markland doubled down the right-field line to plate Tayla Potter, who had singled in front of her. Markland's hit gave the Rangers a two-run cushion and she has carried a hot bat through the postseason.

“I ask my teammates what each pitcher is throwing so I kind of know what to expect,” Markland said. “Then I just tell myself that I'm going to hit the ball and try to do what I can to help my team. Defensively, we just want to have Corie's back and get every out that we can.”

Schuettler made one mistake and that came in the top of the fifth when Lady Bears cleanup hitter Alayna Hensley took a 1-0 pitch over the fence in left field to cut the Ranger lead in half.

The Unaka pitcher retired the last six Tellico Plains hitters to punch the Rangers’ ticket to the state tourney. She struck out seven but walked three and hit a batter while surrendering just three hits.

“We hit the ball better tonight,” Chambers said. “We hit it where it was thrown and I am just happy and blessed for this team to have accomplished this. We have had great support from this community all season and Tellico Plains is a good team that came here and played hard. Their seniors, like ours, had graduation this morning, then had to come out and play a game.”

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