CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Fourth-seeded Ooltewah unleashed a six-run second on top-seed East Hamilton on a chilly Saturday morning and went on to crush the Lady Hurricanes, 10-1, in the District 5-AAA softball tournament at Cleveland High School.
Ooltewah advanced to the winner’s bracket final on Monday at 7 p.m. when it takes on No. 2 Soddy-Daisy, with the winner securing a berth in the Region 3-AAA tournament. The Lady Trojans beat Walker Valley, 5-3, on Saturday.
East Hamilton bounced back later in the day to rout Bradley Central, 15-5, scoring 10 runs in the first inning. The Lady Hurricanes (24-9) will play Walker Valley in an elimination game on Monday at 5 p.m.
The Lady Owls used a perfect blend of pitching, hitting and defense to upset the Lady Hurricanes.
Cameron Baltimore fired a one-hitter and the East Hamilton run was unearned in going the distance.
“I told the girls to be aggressive at the plate because I was confident Cameron was going to throw the best game of her life,” Lady Owls coach Jon Massey said. “She did a great job and that six-run inning helped a lot.”
Shelby Duggard’s bloop single to shallow center in the third inning was the lone hit off Baltimore, who retired 13 of the final 14 batters. The only hiccup in the streak was Alyssa Strickler reaching on a one-out infield error in the seventh.
Until that error, Baltimore had retired 11 in a row. She allowed only two other runners – on an error and a walk in the second inning – after stopping McMinn County on four hits in Friday’s 9-2 win.
“I felt great out there,” said Baltimore, who is 14-4 on the season. “I was relieved to have the six-run cushion because I didn’t have to worry as much.
The Lady Owls’ second-inning outburst practically settled the outcome, especially with the Lady Hurricanes having all sorts of trouble handling Baltimore’s pitches.
Aubie Collake started the inning with a single to left. On a 2-1 pitch, Novelli, a Tennessee Wesleyan softball signee, belted a two-run homer to trigger the scoring.
“I hit an outside fastball and it was my first home run this season,” Novelli said. “They haven’t come as often this year as last year.”
After Shelby Sutton flied out, Josie Cain flipped a single to left and Ashunti Cooper grounded out. Tiera Lemon and Allie Jones each walked to load the bases.
Sullivan, who will play volleyball at Middle Tennessee State, smacked a one-hop double to the fence in left field to drive in three runs, pushing the Lady Owls’ lead to 5-0.
Summer Williams’ double drove Sullivan home with the sixth run of the inning. Sullivan added a sacrifice fly in the seventh, giving her four RBIs on the day.
“It felt good getting a hit like that against our big rival,” Sullivan said. “They beat us really bad the first time we played them, but that big inning gave us a confidence boost. We came out swinging.”
East Hamilton coach Norma Nelson used two pitchers – starter Rachel Gamble and reliever Shelby Duggard in the second inning and they used up 36 combined pitches to finally end the uprising.
Duggard needed 33 pitches to get out of the third, yet she escaped without giving up a run despite Ooltewah loading the bases with two out. Cain singled and Cooper and Lemon drew walks. Duggard whiffed Jones to end the threat.
“We were bad,” Nelson said. “We didn’t hit and didn’t pitch it. Rachel told me she didn’t know what was wrong, but she sure didn’t have her good stuff. I probably should have pulled her sooner.
“Once Ooltewah got some runs they got more confident and kept on hitting.”
Ooltewah banged out 15 hits, second-best total of the season, six different players finished with two hits.
Soddy-Daisy 5, Walker Valley 3: Shonna Penney (15-3) went five-plus innings to pick up the win for the Lady Trojans (30-7). Emily Edwards came on in the sixth with two outs to stop the Lady Mustangs’ two-run inning.
In the seventh, Edwards gave up a hit, but the Lady Trojans turned a double play. Walker Valley’s Haley Davis doubled and the next two batters walked to load the bases. Edwards induced a groundout to end the game.
“It wasn’t easy for us,” Lady Trojans coach Wes Skiles said. “The double play gave us a little momentum, but they came right back at us. Our girls did a good job of not panicking under pressure and got out of it. We made it interesting for sure and my hat’s off to Walker Valley for not laying down.”
Haley Reynolds went 2-for-4 for Soddy-Daisy with a solo home run and double that drove in two runs. Shana Ward was 3-for-3 with a RBI and Abbie Walker was 2-for-3, including a solo homer in the sixth.
On Friday, Soddy-Daisy knocked off Cleveland, 11-0, in six innings.
Edwards (15-4) picked up the win – she got her third save in Saturday’s game.
Reynolds was 4-for-4 with two doubles, two RBIs and scored a run.
Grayson Brown added two hits, including two doubles, and three RBIs.
Abbie Walker went 3-for-3 with two doubles and a RBI.
Savannah Moore had two hits, including a sixth inning three-run homer – her second – that ended the game due to the TSSAA mercy rule.
Ooltewah 060 011 2 – 10 15 3
East Hamilton 001 000 0 – 1 1 0
Baltimore and Williams; Gamble, Duggard (2) and Brooks.
Walker Valley 000 012 0 – 3 8 0
Soddy-Daisy 300 011 x – 5 11 1
WP – Shonna Penney; Save – Emily Edwards.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)