It's the first week of the high school softball season and Soddy-Daisy is already in midseason form.
For certain the Class AAA Lady Trojans looked like it Wednesday in their 5-0 home victory over Division II-AA power GPS in a battle of state runners-up from a year ago.
"I think we're coming," said Soddy-Daisy coach Clifford Kirk, whose team he said had some positive preseason scrimmages in addition to beating McMinn County 10-0 in five innings Tuesday. "We've got some kids that are working hard. I'm starting a whole new infield. Every position is different from last year. In the outfield we're using some young kids, too."
Tori Denayer earned the pitching victory over the Lady Cherokees, but Wednesday was the season debut for Kelsey Nunley. How much does having her returning for her fourth year have to do with the Lady Trojans looking sharp?
"I think it's got a lot to do with it when you can stick her out there," Kirk said. "When it all comes down to it, we want the ball in her hands."
Nunley struck out the side in order in the top of the first inning and was perfect through four thanks to left-fielder Brittany Lanham's shoestring catch for the last out in the fourth. Nunley also retired the first batter in the fifth before giving up a fisted single to left to Abbey Anderson.
A force at second was then recorded on a high throw on Taylor Battle's bunt with Soddy-Daisy leading 3-0. Had GPS coach Susan Crownover gotten the safe call on the play she argued, the Bruisers would've had two on and one out instead of one on and two out.
"I thought she was off the bag. He said she wasn't," Crownover said of the umpire's explanation. "That's the way it works."
As it turned out, GPS did not manage another baserunner. Nunley, who has signed with Kentucky, finished with 10 strikeouts.
"That's why she's going to the SEC," Crownover said. "She's a very talented pitcher. We obviously didn't make any adjustments. We just kept swinging at riseballs out of the zone. She's a very good pitcher and that's what she makes you do."
Sophomore Hailey Reynolds, a newcomer to the lineup, was the only Soddy-Daisy player with more than one hit with a double and single. Two Lady Trojans runs scored directly off errors by GPS (1-1) and their RBIs came on a sacrifice fly by Cassidy Hackney, a groundout by pinch-hitter Jordan Duncan and a single by Jessica Boles.
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.