Aggressive baserunning was the order of the day at Ooltewah on Thursday. It just didn’t pay off for the home team like it did for Walker Valley.
The Lady Mustangs could’ve won the District 5-AAA high school softball game on the strength of their RBIs, but they added more without driving them in and defeated the Lady Owls 5-1.
The teams were tied in the loss column in the standings behind league leader Soddy-Daisy. The Lady Mustangs (13-7, 5-2) had beaten Ooltewah (11-9, 6-3) in 10 innings earlier in the season but had lost recently to McMinn County.
“McMinn beat them the other day, and I told the kids the situation was there for us,” Ooltewah coach Norma Nelson said. “But we couldn’t do what we needed to do.”
Walker Valley had one baserunner besides in the two innings it scored, and neither the RBI in the three-run third nor the one in the two-run fifth came on a hit. The Lady Mustangs’ first two runs came across on an error when Rachel Percy, who had singled and made it around to third base, broke quickly on an infield grounder and forced a high throw to the plate. Baylee Boen, who had singled, scored on Kayla Sewell’s groundout.
Percy also scored the team’s first run in the fifth, which she started with a double. Laurel Allen then beat out a bunt and ended up drawing a throw after she turned and took off for second. The throw was late trying to get her out, and the ensuing throw home failed to get Percy.
“We just have some great athletes,” Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said. “We want to be aggressive and take the extra base.”
Ooltewah threatened by getting runners to third and second in the first and second innings but did not score until the sixth.
“You leave four people on in the first two innings and don’t do the fundamental things you practice every day, that’s going to be hard to overcome,” Nelson said. “When we get down, we’ve got to get tough, and we don’t. They were aggressive. We just didn’t do what we were supposed to do.”
Winning pitcher Sidney Hooper retired 12 straight in one stretch that included four of her seven strikeouts and a quick bottom of the third.
“That helped us keep momentum, which was huge for us,” Limburg said. “After we got those other two added, we were able to settle down and finish the game.
Hooper allowed three hits, two by Abby Daniels, and she added a run-scoring fielder’s choice. Her only walk was to Kelsey Chernak, who had one of the Lady Owls’ three stolen bases and scored their run on a passed ball.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.