By Rick Sheek
Unaka looked sharp.
The result was a 28-2 whipping applied by the visiting Junior Lady Rangers on the Bulldogs in Friday’s Little Watauga Conference softball action.
The Rangers (3-2) pounded 23 hits. Katlyn Weaver batted 4 for 4 with a triple.
“It’s been if we’re hitting well, we play well all around,” Unaka coach James Pearson said. “In our two losses, we weren’t hitting very well. We just got a little behind and never could catch up, but when we hit well early the other girls start hitting well also.”
Ashley Doss was 4 for 5 with a double and four RBIs. Macie Herrmann and Hannah Tipton, who doubled twice, were each 3 for 5.
Madison Ensor and Sierra Wright each hit 2 for 3. Chelsea Grubb was 2 for 5.
Doss stole three bases, while Ensor and Renya Austin recorded two steals each.
Tipton hurled a three-hitter. She struck out six with three walks.
“When Hannah is in zone, she is in a zone,” Pearson said. “Of course she has a pretty good defense backing her up, and that builds her confidence up. She knows, if she’s not dead-on and they’re getting hits, we’re back there to help her out.”
Unaka surged to an 8-0 in the first inning. Tipton belted a two-run double, Doss ripped a run-scoring single, a run was walked in, Austin tagged a run-scoring single, Ensor slammed a two-run double and Grubb rapped a run-scoring single.
The Rangers increased their advantage to 14-0 in the second. Wright began that flurry with a two-run double, Austin crossed on a double steal, Grubb delivered a run-scoring double, an error plated a run and Doss unleashed a run-scoring double.
The Bulldogs, who have one victory thus far, punched in their first score in the second. Tera Clark hit a run-scoring single.
“We’re young,” Hampton coach Joy Gardner said. “It’s just going to take games for us to build some experience, if the girls just keep working hard.”
Unaka went up 21-1 in the third. Herrmann drove in score, a wild pitch plated a run, Tipton slapped a run-scoring single, Weaver nailed her run-scoring triple, Doss tagged a run-scoring single and late stole home, and two more runners crossed on wild pitches.
The largest advantage was 28-1 in the fourth. Sarah Tipton stole home, Hannah Tipton belted a two-run double, Doss rapped a run-scoring single, and three runners crossed on wild pitches.
“Our defense was solid,” Pearson said. “We have a good defense, a young defense, but it’s pretty solid.”
Hampton got its final run in the fourth, on a wild pitch. Kourtney Tolley, who stole three bases, scored both runs.
Tolley was on the mound for 31⁄3 innings. Shyanne Tuelle closed out the pitching duties.
“If they keep working, and our pitching is where it needs to be at the end of the year,” Gardner said. “Really if our heads are in the game, hopefully we can compete. We’re just trying to compete here.”