CLEVELAND, Tenn. — In a high school softball game filled with almosts, the last one went Walker Valley's way.
Soddy-Daisy left fielder Hannah Smith almost came up with a diving catch of Alicia Raymond's line drive with one out in the bottom of the seventh inning of its District 5-AAA game Tuesday at Walker Valley. Instead, the ball glanced off the end of her glove and rolled away for a two-run double that lifted the Lady Mustangs past the Lady Trojans, 5-4.
The victory leaves Walker Valley (8-1, 3-0) alone atop the district standings.
"Every district game is huge," Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said. "We want to use this time working at getting better and improving. I'm just proud of the way the girls performed."
The Lady Mustangs almost tied the game at the beginning of their last at-bat when Hallie Davis hit what would've been a home run had Smith not gotten a glove on it. She was unable to come up with the catch but held Davis to a double.
After a sacrifice bunt, Mackenzie Elrod worked a walk.
"She was seeing the ball really well," Limburg said. "Sometimes a walk gives you the momentum you need to get that run across. It seemed like she fouled off 50 pitches. It was probably more like 10 or 12. Not just her, but a lot of these kids gave us good at-bats today."
Pinch-runner Sydney Ventura took second base by virtue of defensive indifference before Raymond, also the winning pitcher, delivered the game-winner.
Walker Valley scored twice in the third off five singles with Elrod and Raymond driving in the runs. Smith threw one runner out at the plate.
Raymond, who ended up allowing 10 hits and one walk with one strikeout, held the Lady Trojans in check until the sixth. With a runner on second and two out, Soddy-Daisy got consecutive singles from Haley Reynolds, Savannah Moore and Grayson Brown with Reynolds and Brown picking up RBIs. Davis's diving stop at second base that she turned into the third out prevented one and possibly two runs from scoring.
"Their second baseman made that diving play that saved a couple of runs for them," Soddy-Daisy coach Wes Skiles said. "But I like the way we battled. We responded. Unfortunately, so did they."
Walker Valley regained the lead in the bottom of the inning on a two-out RBI single by Baylee Boen that almost became a diving catch by center fielder Brooke Hale.
A one-out double by Hale and a run-scoring single with two outs by Cameren Swafford in the top of the seventh put the Lady Trojans back in front and set the stage for Raymond's heroics.
"Soddy-Daisy has an excellent team," Limburg said. "They continued to fight and never gave up the whole game. They've got great hitters. They've got great defenders. I was really impressed with their defense. They're going to do great things this year."
Boen went 3-for-4 for Walker Valley. Davis was 2-for-3 and scored twice, and Raymond was 2-for-4.
Swafford, who had a double, and Jessica Boles were each 2-for-4 for Soddy-Daisy (3-1, 1-1).
"Now we don't have to worry about being undefeated," Skiles said. "We just need to stay positive. The season is a process."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.