CLEVELAND, Tenn. — There were times in Monday's District 5-AAA high school softball game at Walker Valley when the Lady Mustangs had a hard time catching the ball. But the end, when it mattered, wasn't one of them.
Overcoming seven errors, Walker Valley got a game-ending unassisted double play from second baseman Hallie Davis with the tying run in scoring position and edged Soddy-Daisy 7-6.
With the victory, Walker Valley (19-3, 7-0) strengthened its hold on the top spot in the district ahead of second-place Soddy-Daisy (17-6, 7-2).
"We've got a tough test coming up against Ooltewah," Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said. "Every time you get a district win it's huge. We've just got to get ready for tomorrow."
Soddy-Daisy's Tori Denayer doubled down the left-field line with one out in the top of the seventh. Coach Wes Skiles then took her out in favor of speedy runner Cassidy Hackney, who usually starts and is expected to return to the lineup soon.
Hannah Smith, who had singled in her two previous at-bats, sent a liner toward right-center field that Davis stretched for and snagged before running to the base.
"Doesn't the last play not explain how things went?" Skiles said. "We hit a shot. We've got the perfect runner at second. Then the second baseman makes a great play and doubles her off."
In addition to the big finish, Davis gave Walker Valley a great start by homering to lead off the bottom of the first. She also homered to start a 4-2 win at Soddy-Daisy on April 2.
The Lady Mustangs were leading 2-1 going to the fourth, which is when Soddy-Daisy came up with four hits and took advantage of two Walker Valley errors for a five-run rally. Undeterred, the Lady Mustangs came back with five runs in the bottom of the inning.
None of the runs were earned off winning pitcher Sidney Hooper, who gave up eight hits and one walk. She had eight strikeouts.
"I think Sidney did a great job of staying focused," Limburg said. "We have a lot of leaders on this team that really keep the girls together. They said enough is enough.
"I can't say enough about the girls' willingness to fight. Credit Soddy-Daisy. They made things happen, they got hits and they willed runs across. They have a good team. But I'm super proud of our girls for coming back."
The Lady Trojans had a chance to tie it in the sixth with leadoff batter Olivia Williams at third base with one out, but again Davis came to the rescue by fielding a grounder and throwing Williams out at the plate.
"She just got a bad jump," Skiles said. "She knows it. She's a great baserunner. She owned up to it. We'll fix it. I'm not going to give up on her."
Davis and Hooper each had two hits, an RBI and two runs scored for Walker Valley. Alicia Raymond picked up RBIs being hit with a pitch and on a fielder's choice and also singled and scored a run.
Denayer was 2-for-3 with a run scored for Soddy-Daisy, and Ashley Chaney hit a two-run single in the top of the fourth before coming on in relief in the bottom of the inning. She worked the last 2 1/3 innings, allowing one hit, one walk and no runs.
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.