Staff Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press Soddy-Daisy coach Clifford Kirk signals during a game.
The storm that rolled through Soddy-Daisy late in the Lady Trojans’ high school softball game against GPS may have symbolized the ceremony that was about to take place.
Coach Clifford Kirk’s first season at Soddy-Daisy was 1990. Seven Class AAA state championships later, it could be said he’s taken the community by storm.
The community, in turn, honored Kirk by naming its newly built field “Clifford Kirk Stadium” on Monday when the Lady Trojans beat the Bruisers 5-3.
Kirk and Soddy-Daisy principal John Maynard knew in advance of the approaching bad weather and debated during the afternoon about what to do. Because of the long-term planning for a field dedication scheduled to take place after the game, they went ahead with plans to play GPS at 4:30 and hold the ceremony afterward. It ended up being inside the school.
“We were afraid we weren’t going to get the thing in,” Kirk said. “We thought about moving it up. We thought about canceling it. Then John said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ It worked out fine.”
Heavy rain forced the game to be called in the top of the seventh inning with one out and a runner on second base.
“We were down 5-0, came back and had a chance to do some damage in the last inning,” GPS coach Susan Crownover said of her young lineup, which had no seniors and included four freshmen and an eighth-grader. “When the storm hit, there wasn’t a whole lot that could be done at that point. It was kind of dangerous. Forget softball. It was hailing before I could get off the field.”
GPS loaded the bases with none out in the first inning but failed to score. A dropped third strike led to some confusion for the Bruisers and a double play for the Lady Trojans.
“We blew a good opportunity to score,” Crownover said. “I believe our runner on third thought [the batter] had made contact and thought she saw the ball in front of the plate and took off. The ball ended up behind the plate.”
Soddy-Daisy (8-1) responded in the bottom of the inning with a two-out double to center field by Alex Everett and Kali’s Henderson’s home run to left.
Millie Putnam and Everett, who was 3-for-4, hit run-scoring singles in a three-run second. Teammate Morgan Bailey went 2-for-3.
Although the runs she allowed were unearned, Lady Trojans ace Kelsey Nunley was touched for three hits in the fifth inning. Bailey Davenport’s single drove in the first run.
After two strikes, Madison Boyd fouled off eight pitches before lining a two-run double to left-center on a 1-2 pitch. Overall, Nunley gave up six hits and two walks while striking out six.
Kirk said his junior right-hander may be suffering a hint of complacency after two stellar seasons. She was the pitcher of record when Mount Juliet defeated Soddy-Daisy 6-2 over the weekend in the Lady Bruin Classic at Brentwood.
“She’s got to get back to work, and she will,” Kirk said. “She’s probably missing ever so slightly.”
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653.
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.