The Lady Rangers earned a 3-0 win over Gibson County in the opening round of the TSSAA Class A state softball tournament Tuesday at McKnight Field.
Corie Schuettler got it done in the circle and Madison Pierce had the hot bat at the plate.
“I was really proud of the girls,” said Unaka head coach Kennth Chambers. “We’ve played close games and we’ve played a hard schedule. Nobody got nervous and we made the plays.”
The Lady Rangers had been outscored 32-0 in their previous three state tournament games.
Unaka (29-12) advanced to the winners’ bracket semifinals and will play Sale Creek or Houston County on Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
STARTING WITH A BAG
Unaka burst out of the gates with three straight doubles to take a 2-0 lead. Sarah Tipton started it and Pierce drove her in. Weaver followed with another RBI double.
As it turned out, that was all the Lady Rangers needed.
“We had been talking about getting out of the gates early,” said Chambers. “Pierce hit the ball hard every time.”
Savannah Tipton singled in the second inning and Sarah Tipton followed with a walk. That brought Pierce to the plate, and she roped another RBI double.
Pierce finished with three hits in three at-bats and drove in two runs.
“I hit the ball really hard the first time, and it got in my head real good,” said Pierce. “I just said I had to keep it going for the rest of the game.”
Pierce said the Lady Rangers are very happy with the win.
“It’s really incredible,” said Pierce. “We’re so happy to get a win down here. We are really confident.”
IN THE CIRCLE
Schuettler was in command until she hit a little bump in the seventh inning. A double, single and a walk loaded the bases.
However, Schuettler got Zoey Neal on a fly out to end the game. Schuettler went the distance in the circle, allowing seven hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
“She did a great job,” said Chambers.
Schuettler said she enjoyed the early three-run cushion.
“It was great,” said Schuettler. “Once we got that, I knew we were going to be fine. I always tell them to get some runs and we’ll go from there. Our defense kept us in the game.”
Schuettler said the Lady Rangers have more to accomplish.
“It’s a really big deal to get a win, but our goal is to make history and win two straight,” said Schuettler. “And our goal is to win the state.”
Maddie Neal and Macey Neal led the way for the Lady Pioneers. Each player totaled three hits. That was six of their team’s seven hits.