By Tim Chambers
One bad inning turned a couple of good games into bad ones on day one of the Wayne Hodge State Farm Classic played at Unaka High School on Friday evening. David Crockett finished perfect in the two games that it played, Happy Valley and Unaka went 1-1 each while Cloudland got knocked off twice.
It took the international tiebreaker rule to decide the outcome of Friday’s final contest between Unaka and Happy Valley after the Lady Rangers were within one out of pulling out a win.
The Lady Warriors trailed 4-2 with two outs and runners on second and third. Brooke Simmons ripped a hard grounder to short, but the throw over pulled Unaka’s first baseman off the bag. This allowed Kaylee Street to score the tying run after she and Brittany Morefield had each delivered clutch singles.
“We won, that’s about it,” said Happy Valley head coach Mike Dorsey. “We played bad in almost every inning today. Luckily we hung on and won the final game. Gosh knows we needed it.”
The Rangers had a chance to take the lead in the extra inning, but Jessie Matheson was thrown out at the plate on a bang-bang play.
The Tribe won it in the bottom half.
Hannah Blevins laid down a perfect bunt single that scored Allison Williams for the game winner.
Unaka scored all four its runs in the third inning, collecting six base hits. The Rangers failed to score during the other half-dozen frames.
“That’s what’s disappointing,” said head coach Carrie Stevens. “We don’t hit it for six innings, then we turn around and don’t make a routine play at the end to win it.”
Happy Valley totaled nine hits in the game.
Blevins, Simmons and Allison Williams provided two apiece. Kiara Coffey, Street and Morefield each had one.
Brandi Ensor, Alicia Colbaugh and Caitlyn Buckles had a pair of hits each for the Lady Rangers. Madison Weaver roped a two-run double. Kassie Winters, Jessie Matheson and Leslie Colbaugh shared the other three.
Morefield earned the win on the mound for Happy Valley. Leslie Colbaugh was the hard-luck loser, tossing one heck of a game.
The Lady Highlanders trailed Unaka 4-2 after five innings, only to see Unaka score five in the sixth to break open a close game.
Jessie Matheson, Kassie Winters and Madison Weaver each singled and scored during the third inning for a 3-1 advantage.
Hope Baker had given Cloudland a 1-0 by blasting a leadoff solo home run in the first inning over the left-field fence.
Winters doubled and scored in the fifth frame for the Rangers. Kendall Mull singled in Savannah Colbaugh, who had hit safely in the bottom half for Cloudland.
It was smoking guns galore for Unaka in the sixth inning as red-hot bats produced five consecutive base hits and five runs.
Two of the base hits were bunt singles by Jessie Matheson and Winters. Shanda Matheson had got things started with a leadoff double. The big blow in the inning was a two-run double off the bat of Madison Weaver.
Kelly King scored Cloudland’s final run after leading off the bottom half with a base hit. The Rangers defense would turn a double play to end the game.
Winters had a big day at the plate for Unaka in addition to pitching the win. She ended the day going 4-4 with three runs scored. Jessie Matheson added three hits and two runs scored. Weaver and Alicia Colbaugh were 2-4 with a pair of RBIs.
Baker, Summer Hughes, Savannah Whitehead and Kendall Mull accounted for Cloudland’s four hits with one apiece.
The Warriors led 1-0 in the third only to watch Crockett scored eight unanswered runs.
Kelli Hooks launched a three-run homer in the fourth inning to put the Lady Pioneers in front for good.
Sam Fox drove home two more in the sixth with a base hit in the sixth frame. All of their runs in the frame were unearned.
Kaylee Street had two hits for the Lady Warriors. Kaitlin Campbell, Brooke Simmons, Allison Williams and Morefield tallied one apiece.
Kathryn Woodfin went 2-3 to pace the Pioneers.
The Lady Pioneers put up the same final scored against the Lady Highlanders as they did Happy Valley.
They had only five hits in the game but made the most of them.
Jackie Loyd went 3-3 to lead the winners. Gail Hooks was 1-1 with two runs scored.
Summer Hughes, Dakota Jarrett and Kendall Mull had the only hits in the game for Cloudland.
Unaka 004 000 0 — 4 10 5
H.V. 001 012 1 — 5 9 1
L.Colbaugh and J.Matheson. Morefield and Coffey. W—Morefield. L—L. Colbaugh.
Cloudland 010 00 — 1 3 5
Crockett 140 2x — 8 5 1
McKinney, Hughes (2) and Baker. Grindstaff and Loyd. W—Grindstaff. L—McKinney.
Unaka 003 015 — 9 14 2
Cloudland 100 011 — 3 4 2
Winters and J. Matheson. McKinney and Baker. W—Winters. L—McKinney. HR—Cloudland, Baker.
HV 001 000 0 — 1 6 2
Crockett 000 305 x — 8 5 0
Simmons and Coffey. Grindstaff and Loyd. W—Grindstaff. L—Simmons.