They celebrated Senior Day at Soddy Daisy's Clifford Kirk Stadium Tuesday afternoon, but most of the celebrating took place in the visitor's dugout once the game began as Baylor used a four-run fourth inning as a springboard for a 5-3 victory over the Lady Trojans.
This was a clash of two Tennessee teams who are regulars at the state tournament. Between them, they have won more state softball titles than all the other Chattanooga schools combined.
They are currently the defending champs for their respective classifications, but they didn't play like it Tuesday afternoon.
The Lady Red Raiders made five errors, but the Lady Trojans weren't able to take advantage.
Baylor starting pitcher Sarah Moore had an unusually high number of walks with seven, but she only allowed four hits in five and a third innings. Freshman Kayla Hughes came in and finished the job.
While the Lady Trojans were limited to those four hits, they had plenty of runners on base with the eight walks total and the five errors. Unfortunately, Soddy Daisy left a dozen of those runners stranded as Baylor's defense made big play after big play in critical situations.
"It's always nice to have luck on our side, but this is a good win for our team," said Baylor coach Kelli Smith after a longer-than-normal post-game chat with her girls.
"I told them that we have to be better than that if we expect to go very far in the post-season. We gave Soddy Daisy way too many opportunities, but we made some big plays defensively when we had to have them.
"The best thing about these girls is they don't get rattled. We just try to remember to make the next play. We made a bunch of silly errors, but our defense buckled down when we had to and we got a few clutch hits when they counted," Smith added.
Soddy Daisy coach Wes Skiles must have felt like his team was snake bit. The Lady Trojans left the bases loaded in the fourth inning while stranding two runners in the third, fifth and sixth innings. They stranded one more in the first, second and seventh.
"We couldn't seem to catch a break today. We hit the ball hard a bunch of times, but it seemed like it was always at somebody. They get a double play off a line drive. It just goes on and on. We didn't get any timely hits.
"It's a new season and we're playing in May. Baylor has a great team and they're always well-coached. We love playing them late in the season, but anyone could have won this game today," Skiles expressed.
Soddy Daisy scored first with a single run in the second. Pitcher Tori Denayer received a two-out walk and pinch-runner Abby Walker scored on a single by Ashley Chaney.
Baylor regained the advantage with four runs in the fourth when the Lady Red Raiders batted around.
Using three walks, three hits and one sacrifice fly, Baylor finally broke through after leaving the bases loaded in the second and third innings.
Shelby Ellis led off with a walk, but was forced at second on a grounder to the pitcher by Maya Mathis. Precious Birdsong reached on an infield hit before Noelle Winkles loaded the bases with a walk. Another walk to Cassi Pickett plated Mathis while a sharp single to left by Lauren Lewis sent Birdsong home.
Chaney replaced Denayer at that point and was greeted by a sacrifice fly to right by Haley Andrus that scored Winkles. Moore drove in the fourth run when she reached on another infield single as eighth-grader A.J. Johnson raced home.
Andrus had an RBI-single in the sixth that plated Winkles, who had led off with a single.
The Lady Trojans scored single runs in the fourth and sixth innings, but could never seem to get the big clutch hit with the game still on the line.
Cassidy Hackney's single in the fourth drove in Walker, who was running for Chaney after a two-out walk. Then in the sixth with the bases loaded, Haley Reynolds drove in Hackney with a groundout to second.
Brooke Hale led off the Soddy Daisy seventh and reached on Baylor's fifth error, but she was promptly erased when Denayer lined hard to short and she was doubled off first.
Hughes issued her only walk to Chaney with two outs, but Savannah Moore popped to second to end the game.
Lewis and Andrus both had two hits for Baylor while Birdsong, Winkles, Moore, Ellis and Mathis all had one apiece.
Hackney was the only Soddy Daisy player with two hits. Hale and Chaney had one apiece. Morgan Bailey didn't have any hits, but she walked three times.
Baylor returns to action on Thursday with a home game against East Hamilton. Another home game against region foe Brentwood Academy is Saturday while a crucial region game against GPS is on the road Tuesday afternoon before the regular season wraps up with another home game Wednesday against Ensworth.
Soddy Daisy will be at home on Friday for the opening game of the District 5-AAA tournament. The Lady Trojans finished with a 10-2 district record and earned the second seed behind number-one Walker Valley.
While the first-round games will be played at various sites on Friday, the rest of the action will be played at Rhea County.
Baylor 000 401 0 -- 5 9 5
Soddy Daisy 010 101 0 -- 3 4 0
Moore, Hughes (6) and Pickett; Denayer, Chaney (4) and Bailey.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)