CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Shonna Penney got rattled.
Emily Edwards got down to business.
Edwards pitched five scoreless innings in relief and Soddy-Daisy defeated Ooltewah, 8-4, Monday night in the District 5-AAA softball tournament at Brenda McKenzie Lawson Field on the Cleveland High School campus.
The Lady Owls raked Lady Trojans starter Shonna Penney for three runs, but Edwards’ sterling effort stopped any further scoring.
“Penney got a little rattled,” Soddy-Daisy coach Wes Skiles said. “But Emily is kind of stoic. She doesn’t let her emotions get to her.”
Soddy-Daisy (31-7) posted the victory despite committing seven errors – four in the sixth inning produced only one run for the Lady Owls. The Lady Trojans’ nine-hit attack against Ooltewah pitchers Cameron Baltimore and Jadyn Raschke was enough power to overcome the sloppy defense.
The victory pushed Soddy-Daisy (31-7), which overcame seven errors – four in the sixth inning – yet only gave up one run, in Tuesday night’s championship game at 7 p.m. and clinched a spot in the Region 3-AAA tournament.
“That feels good,” Skiles said. “We’re still not done. Going to region gives you a peace of mind, but right now it’s all about staying alive and seeing another day.”
The Lady Trojans will play the winner of Tuesday’s first game at 5 p.m. pitting Walker Valley and Ooltewah. The Lady Mustangs stayed alive after eliminating East Hamilton, 3-1.
Ooltewah (28-10) loaded the bases in the first inning, but failed to score.
Tiera Lemon led off the third with a double and went to third on Allie Jones’ hit to left. Lemon scored on Sloan Sullivan’s sacrifice bunt and Sullivan was safe at first when Penney uncorked a wild throw.
Summer Williams’ sacrifice fly sent Jones home and Aubie Collake – the first batter Edwards faced – singled Sullivan across.
“I felt a little pressure,” Edwards said. “I was surprised I went out there that early. Once I settled down I felt prepared for the situation. I had the backing of my team and I knew the hitters would come through.”
Edwards (16-4) retired Elizabeth Novelli on a pop to first and Shelby Sutton on a fly ball to center to stop the Lady Owls’ inning.
Probably the most calming effect for Edwards was Soddy-Daisy’s four-run third for a lead the Lady Trojans never relinquished.
Brooke Hale singled and was sacrificed to second by Cameren Swafford. Haley Reynolds flied out. Grayson Brown singled Gracie Ratledge, running for Hale, across for the first run. Hannah Smith drove in Brown with a triple to left field.
Shana Ward walked and Savannah Moore reached on an infield hit, with Smith scoring. Abby Walker drove in Moore and suddenly Soddy-Daisy was in control at 6-3.
“That was a key response,” Skiles said. “It gives you the confidence that the girls weren’t going to lay down.”
After the Lady Trojans dodged a bullet when Ooltewah left the bases loaded in the first, they jumped on Baltimore for two quick runs in the bottom of the inning.
Hale singled and Swafford put down a bunt and both runners were safe. Reynolds then delivered a clutch two-run double.
Ward’s two-out, two-run single scored Jessica Barbee, who was running for Swafford, and Reynolds and the Lady Trojans were in the comfort zone at 8-3.
That cushion looked like it might be needed when Ooltewah batted in the sixth.
Lady Trojans shortstop Jessica Boles misplayed two grounders and Moore, the catcher, threw a ball away at first trying to pick off a runner. Right-fielder Ward’s throw to the infield got away for the second error in the chaotic sequence.
“But Ooltewah just scored one run,” Skiles said. “Bad things happen and we overcame adversity. You can credit Emily for a lot of that. We knew Ooltewah would come out fighting after their win over East Hamilton.”
Brown went 3-for-3 and Hale had two hits in four at-bats for Soddy-Daisy.
Jones and Norvelli each had two hits for the Lady Owls.
Skiles pointed out that most of the Lady Trojans’ hits came with two outs.
“That says a lot about our hitters,” he said.
Walker Valley 3, East Hamilton 1: The regular-season champion Lady Hurricanes (25-10) started out quick, scoring a first-inning run when Miracle Gorman singled and wound up at second on an ensuing error by right-fielder Carly Frost.
Gorman scored on Kelsey Payne’s single to right.
“I always seem to have a rocky first inning,” Walker Valley pitcher Alicia Raymond (23-10), “but I knew we could battle back. I guess I was a little nervous warming up. I got sharper after the second and third innings I was like, ‘I got this.’ ”
The Lady Mustangs scored just as quickly.
Baylee Boen led off with a single, went to second on a sacrifice bunt and scored when third baseman Maggie Woods couldn’t handle Alicia Raymond’s grounder.
Over the final six innings Raymond, who has overcome surgery on both knees prior to the 2013 and 2014 seasons and a bothersome ankle injury this season, allowed only two base runners past second and both were stranded at third.
“She’s a battler,” Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said. “When she’s able to locate her pitches Alicia is a force that has come up big this year. And we’ve asked her to throw in some big games.”
Raymond relied heavily on the defense behind her – she struck out one and walked two. Raymond threw 12 ground-ball outs. The Walker Valley outfield had only one putout – left-fielder Emilee Spann on a ball hit by pitcher Rachel Gamble in the fifth inning.
“We’re disappointed in the way our season ended,” Lady Hurricanes coach Norma Nelson said. “We won the regular season, but I told the girls this was a different season. We had a roller coaster run this season and that worried me coming into the tournament.
“But I enjoyed the opportunity to coach again (Nelson was fired at Ooltewah after the 2013 season). And the support of the administration has been great.”
Walker Valley 100 002 0 – 3 6 2
East Hamilton 100 000 0 – 1 6 4
Raymond and Chancey; Gamble and Brooks.
Ooltewah 003 001 0 – 4 9 3
Soddy-Daisy 204 200 x – 8 10 7
Baltimore, Raschke (4) and Williams; Penney, Edwards (3) and Moore.
2014 All-District 5-AAA Team
Soddy-Daisy – Haley Reynolds, Shonna Penny, Grayson Brown
East Hamilton – Kelsey Payne, Rachel Gamble, Savannah Daniel, Brie Levy
Walker Valley – Hallie Davis, Alicia Raymond
Ooltewah – Allie Jones
Bradley Central – Emmaly Morgan
Cleveland – Lauren Lee
McMinn County – Lexie Axley
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @larryfleming44)