Ooltewah High School softball pitcher Taylor Baird apparently followed the advice offered by Lady Owls coach Norma Nelson in the fifth inning Tuesday. And apparently it made no difference to Soddy-Daisy's Savannah Moore.
Moore's two-run home run broke a scoreless tie and got the Lady Trojans started toward a 7-1 victory in the District 5-AAA game at Ooltewah.
Moore, new to the cleanup spot in Soddy-Daisy's order this year, came up with leadoff batter Cassidy Hackney on second base with two out in the top of the fifth. Hackney was on base four times, including with a double and a single, but that inning she had reached on an error.
Before Moore stepped in the batter's box, Nelson called time out for a conference in the pitching circle. As soon as she returned to the dugout, Baird threw a pitch toward catcher Abby Daniels that Moore lined over the fence in left field.
"I told her, 'I think this is their best hitter. Don't give her anything to hit,'" Nelson exasperatingly said she told Baird. She then withdrew and added, "Abby said it wasn't a bad pitch.
"We should've been out of the fifth inning. The girl never should've been up to bat that hit the home run."
A brisk wind was blowing throughout the game and Soddy-Daisy coach Clifford Kirk admitted that may have helped Moore's shot barely clear the fence. But Lauren Smith left no doubt with her two-run blast to center in the seventh.
Baird's only walk was starting the game. She had seven of her eight strikeouts in her four shutout innings.
"We went from taking hard swings to slapping the ball, showing bunt and slowing down," Kirk said. "We were too eager. Once we slowed down, I thought we put the bat on the ball."
Because of the breezy conditions, Kirk said he warned pitcher Kelsey Nunley to keep the ball down. Ooltewah (2-1, 2-1) managed six hits off Nunley, who had eight strikeouts and one walk. Allie Jones had two hits for the Lady Owls, who scored in the sixth on Taylor Hicks' groundout.
Smith and Brittany Lanham each was 2-for-4 with a double. Jessica Boles had an RBI single and Morgan Bailey had a two-run double in the sixth for Soddy-Daisy (4-0), now 3-0 in the district.
"Any time you win this one," Kirk said of the first of two district games against Ooltewah, "it puts you one step up."
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.