Walker Valley's Lady Mustangs can't say they were in charge over Soddy-Daisy from the first pitch Tuesday, but they can from the second.
With a one-ball count, Walker Valley leadoff batter Hallie Davis lined a home run over the left-center-field fence. The Lady Mustangs led the rest of the way and won 4-2 in a District 5-AAA high school softball game at Soddy-Daisy.
The victory over Soddy-Daisy, which played in the last three state finals, winning two, is the first for third-year Walker Valley head coach Lauren Limburg. She was Chris Doan's assistant the last time the Lady Mustangs beat the Lady Trojans, which was 3-2 at Walker Valley on March 30, 2009.
"I think any district win is a big win for us," said Limburg, whose district runner-up team last year was eliminated from the state playoffs by Coffee County in a Region 3 semifinal. "We want to compete for that first seed in the district tournament. That's why we practice. That's why we do everything we do. It's to get ready for postseason.
"To beat a team like Soddy-Daisy, which is an excellent ball team, is a great momentum builder for us."
Winning pitcher Sidney Hooper helped herself in the third inning after Brittany Nettles led off with a single. A throwing error on Baylee Boen's sacrifice bunt left runners on third and second with one out.
With first base open, Soddy-Daisy (12-3, 4-1) chose to pitch to No. 3 batter Hooper, who drove a pitch to the fence in right for a triple.
"We were just trying to make her miss-hit the ball," Soddy-Daisy coach Wes Skiles said. "It just didn't work out. We threw the same pitch later and struck her out."
Mackenzie Elrod's ensuing sacrifice fly made it 4-0.
Four of the Lady Trojans' eight hits came in the fifth and included Morgan Bailey's two-RBI single. Hooper had one strikeout, walked none and hit one batter.
"I think Sidney is such a perfectionist," Limburg said. "She always wants to make the ball spin the right way. She wants to hit her spots. She has such a drive to be successful. She willed us a win."
Limburg also praised her team's defense, which Boen sparked from center field. She made a diving catch in the sixth and threw a runner out at third in the seventh. She also went 2-for-3.
Lady Trojans reliever Emily Edwards struck out four and limited Walker Valley (10-2, 4-0) to one hit in the last four innings, although she walked four. Tori Denayer and Olivia Williams each had two singles, and they scored Soddy-Daisy's runs.
"I'm glad we fought back," Skiles said. "Several times we had situations where one hit here or there, or one play, really -- defense, offense, baserunning -- could've made a difference. We make one play at a certain time and things could've been different."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
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.