Soddy-Daisy pitcher Hayley Everett throws the ball to Ooltewah's batter, Taylor Hicks during the Ooltewah vs. Soddy-Daisy softball game at Soddy-Daisy High School in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn. Staff photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press
Soddy-Daisy didn’t jump on Ooltewah early and often as it did when the teams met for the first time last season, but Wednesday early was good enough.
A three-run first inning sparked the Lady Trojans to a 5-0 victory over the Lady Owls in a District 5-AAA high school softball game originally scheduled at Ooltewah at 5 p.m. Soddy-Daisy was able to get its new field ready and the teams played there at 7.
Soddy-Daisy’s Millie Putnam got things started with a one-out single, which turned out to be the only hit in the first-inning rally. After back-to-back walks to Alex Everett and Kali Henderson, Mariam Wood’s sacrifice fly brought in the first run and a second run scored on a throwing error on the play. A throwing error on on Morgan Bailey’s grounder alllowed the other run to score.
Ooltewah coach Norma Nelson said when she addressed her players afterward she reminded them their effort was better than in the 15-0 whipping they took in five innings this time last year.
“We didn’t play that bad,” Nelson said. “Without that first inning, it could’ve been a different ballgame. I don’t think the girls got down on themselves. We stayed up. It’s just that something like that takes a little bit out of you.”
Ooltewah (5-6, 2-1) stranded two runners in each of the first three innings and had another tagged out in a rundown between third and home in the fifth. Winning pitcher Kelsey Nunley gave up five hits — three in the infield — and no walks, although she hit two batters. She struck out six.
“We’re a little bit better than that. We didn’t hit good pitches, and my shortstop made two errors, which is uncharacteristic of her,” Kirk said of Everett. “Our pitcher still wasn’t where she should be, but this is only her second game. She got better. She didn’t hit her spots early.”
Soddy-Daisy (3-0, 3-0) had four newcomers in its lineup, including sophomore Bailey, who had an RBI fielder’s choice, in the No. 6 spot. She was followed by three freshmen. Hannah Smith went 2-for-3 with a double, Savannah Moore had a run-scoring single and Brittany Latham drew a walk.
“I thought they did a good job,” Kirk said. “This is brand new out there for them. They’re only going to get better.”
Kirk said his team was so desperate to play — its last game was March 17 — the players helped work on the field after school to get it ready.
Nelson said considering the bad weather, the field was in good playing condition. The only complaint she had was when Kelsey Chernak, who was 3-for-4 and the runner caught in the rundown after Katelyn Bowen’s hit, sank in some mud after rounding third and got stuck.
“We needed to play. They needed to play,” said Nelson, whose team played the majority of its games in two days in Hendersonville’s Commando Classic. “We haven’t practiced outside since two weeks ago.”
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.