CLEVELAND, Tenn. – Soddy-Daisy and Walker Valley will come back for more softball on Wednesday.
The Lady Mustangs got another solid pitching effort from Alicia Raymond, talented second baseman Hallie Davis supplied offensive punch and defensive highlights as Walker Valley edged Soddy-Daisy, 5-3, Tuesday to set up a second District 5-AAA tournament title game on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
Walker Valley ripped Ooltewah, 13-3, in an elimination game for the chance to play the Lady Trojans.
“Give them credit,” Soddy-Daisy coach Wes Skiles said of the Lady Mustangs’ clutch play in both games. “They’re a scrappy bunch. Their pitcher did a great job keeping us off balance.”
Even before they lock horns again on Wednesday at Brenda McKenzie Lawson Field on the Cleveland High school campus, both teams have secured spots in the Region 3-AAA semifinals.
Two things are still at stake in the rematch – the district tournament championship and home-field advantage for the regional semifinals.
“That’s huge,” Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said. “Soddy-Daisy will be ready to fight and we have to fight with all we have and match their intensity in (Wednesday’s) game.”
Raymond has gone 5-1 in the tournament – the lone loss was to Soddy-Daisy – and it would be a surprise if she doesn’t pitch on Wednesday.
Skiles is likely to come back with his ace, Shonna Penney, as well. Penney worked 2.1 innings of relief Tuesday, striking out four and walking two. She got the third out to end Walker Valley’s three-run fifth that was in response to the Lady Trojans’ three run rally in the top of the inning.
Raymond effectively scattered seven hits and other than the fifth was in control, facing 28 batters, seven over the minimum. She retired the first nine before Brooke Hale broke up her bid for a perfect game with a leadoff single to left in the fourth.
“Alicia is mentally tough,” Limburg said. “She has a drive, a fight and a want-to-win attitude and she’s done an excellent job for us all season.”
Raymond has certainly been a mound mainstay for the Lady Mustangs. Raymond is 25-10 and Walker stands 32-13 going into Wednesday’s showdown.
Davis, arguably the district’s best all-around player, broke up the pitching duel between Raymond and Soddy-Daisy starter Emily Edwards by hitting a solo homer in the third. She walked and scored in a three-run fifth.
Davis made an over-the-shoulder catch of Haley Reynolds’ bloop into shallow right in the fourth for the second out with runners at first and second.
An inning later, with the Lady Trojans having scored three runs and runners at first and third, Davis snagged Reynolds’ line drive and threw to first for an inning-ending double play.
“If Davis doesn’t make those two plays, who knows what would have happened,” Lady Trojans coach Wes Skiles said.
But she did.
Walker Valley, the No. 3 seed, pushed its lead to 4-0 with the aid of a costly error by Soddy-Daisy third baseman Grayson Brown.
Lara Bean singled and moved to second on Carly Frost’s sacrifice bunt. Baylee Boen grounded to short and Jessica Boles faked a throw to first and tagged Bean for the second out.
Rachel Percy singled and Davis drew a walk. A.J. Chancey grounded to third, but Brown misplayed the ball and Boen scored. Providing a little offense herself, Raymond followed with a two-run single.
Penney came on to get Emilee Spann on a pop to first to end the inning.
The Lady Trojans (31-8) finally figured out Raymond’s pitching by getting five of their seven hits in the bottom of the fifth.
Shana Ward doubled. Savannah Moore singled and Ward went to third. However, when Spann misplayed the ball in left, Ward, who had stopped, raced home with Soddy-Daisy’s first run.
Abby Walker singled and Boles’ hit down the left-field line pushed Moore home. After Brooke Hale’s sacrifice bunt, Cameren Swafford delivered run-scoring single to left.
There was still just one out.
But Davis defensive play that turned into an inning-ending double play deflated the Lady Trojans.
Raymond retired five of six – Hannah Smith reached on Bean’s error at third – to close out the Lady Trojans.
“We adjusted to (Raymond) and then she adjusted,” Skiles said. “Wednesday we lost to East Hamilton (the game decided the top two seeds) and yet we’re in the championship game. You win some and lose some. We’ll regroup and come back tomorrow.”
In the game against Ooltewah, Walker Valley scored six runs in the first inning, an outburst highlighted by Percy’s two-run homer after leadoff batter Boen reached on a single.
The Lady Mustangs also scored six times in the fourth with Chancey providing a two-run double.
Elizabeth Novelli hit a solo homer for the Lady Owls.
Walker Valley 001 031 0 – 5 5 2
Soddy-Daisy 000 030 0 – 3 7 2
Raymond and Chancey; Edwards, Penney (5) and Moore.
(E-mail Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @larryfleming44)