After a slow offensive start, Unaka’s bats hit a second gear. By the time Hampton caught up, it was a little too late.
The Lady Rangers combined for 10 of its 12 hits between innings four and six, accounting for seven runs in a 7-1 road decision over the Lady Bulldogs.
“It seems like we have a slow warm-up process and then we come around,” said Unaka coach Carrie Stevens. “Our bats have not been doing well the past few games. I think we’ve scored 10 runs total until today, so I was happy to see that. Our big sticks still aren’t doing what I want them to do, but we’re getting first, second, third batters on, they’re just not bringing them around for us right now.
“I’m hoping the more we play, the more our bats will come alive. We’ve been working on it real hard in practice. Errors in the field have come down quite a bit. Overall, I was pleased with today.”
Kassie Winters was 2-for-3 on the day with a triple, double, three RBI and two runs scored to lead Unaka at the plate, while Autumn Bradshaw, Madison Weaver, Brandi Ensor and Caitlyn Buckles tallied 2-for-4 outings.
Leslie Colbaugh pitched the win, striking out four without a walk, while Mollie Crabtree was credited with the loss for Hampton.
Three scoreless innings were resolved by the top of the fourth as the Lady Rangers got on board.
Winters walked and Weaver singled to place two aboard for Ensor, who delivered an RBI double. Buckles followed suit with an RBI single for a 2-0 lead.
Unaka found similar results in the fifth after a single from Bradshaw. Winters delivered an RBI double and stole third for Jessie Matheson, who placed a bunt between two defenders for the fourth run of the game.
The Lady Ranger lead increased to seven with a three-inning sixth.
Ensor and Buckles led off with consecutive singles. Bradshaw brought the first run across with an RBI single to set up Winters, who launched a two-run triple to the fence.
Hampton, which had three baserunners to that point, got its bats going in the bottom of the sixth. Danielle Guinn and Crabtree singled for freshman Kayla Stoneman, who delivered an RBI double.
The Lady Bulldogs added two-out hits from Taylor Berry and Carmin Calderon in the seventh, but were unable to squeeze a run across the plate producing the final tally.
“Right now the younger players are hitting better than the older ones,” said Hampton coach Bill Doss. “These older girls have to step up and lead. We’re not wanting to play until the seventh inning of the game and that’s too late. We’ve got to get there. We’re getting there, but we’ve got to step up and start playing sooner.
Offensively, for Hampton, Crabtree’s two-hit game led the squad. Unaka’s Lynsey Buckles and Hampton’s Jessica Sloan tallied the game’s other hits.
The Lady Rangers return to action today at Elizabethton.
Unaka 000 223 0 — 7 12 1
Hampton 000 001 0 — 1 7 0
Colbaugh and Matheson. Crabtree and Guinn. W—Colbuagh. L—Crabtree. 2B—Unaka, Winters, Ensor, Weaver; Hampton, Stoneman.3B—Unaka, Winters.