CLEVELAND, Tenn. – After chasing Ooltewah in the District 5-3A softball standings this season, Walker Valley is now the chasee after Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over the Lady Owls on Carissa Frost’s game-winning two-run homer with two out in the seventh inning.
“It’s a huge win for us and our program,” Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said.
The diminutive Frost, who made the defensive play of the game by robbing Mabry Carpenter of at least a double a split-second before colliding with the left-field fence in the fifth inning, collected two singles and was hit by a pitch in three previous plate appearances.
With Ooltewah’s Kayla Boseman and Walker Valley’s Natalie Pruitt locked in a sterling pitcher’s duel, smacked a 1-0 pitch on a line over the left-center field fence to give the Lady Mustangs the victory that snapped a nine-game losing streak to Ooltewah.
“It’s the best feeling in the world and I’m going to enjoy this until the next time we play them,” Frost said of her fourth home run, a laser line drive that pierced a howling wind blowing from right field to left field and easily cleared the fence well above the head of Ooltewah center-fielder Addy Keylon. “This was a weight lifted off our shoulders because we finally beat Ooltewah.”
And where does her power come from?
“The heart,” the sophomore outfielder said.
And, what was Limburg’s assessment?
“She has one of the best swings I’ve ever seen,” said Limburg, who guided the Lady Mustangs to their 12th straight win. “She has quick hands, a great eye and makes contact. A lot of it is her inner drive to be successful.”
Frost had half of Walker Valley’s six hits and was responsible three of the team’s five balls that reached the outfield against Boseman, suffering her first loss in 11 decisions.
Boseman struck out Hannah Cate Singleton and Miranda Young to start the seventh. Abbey Davis, batting ninth, tenaciously battled Boseman and eventually reached on an infield single, dribbling the 11th pitch she saw to shortstop.
Two pitches later, Frost crushed her fourth home run of the season to give Walker Valley the victory. It also pushed the Lady Mustangs (23-6, 9-1) ahead of the Lady Owls (23-5, 8-1) by one-half game in the league standings.
“It’s very disappointing,” Boseman said. “They’ve seen me for four years now and they did a good job making adjustments on what I was throwing. They were pumped and ready to play and we just didn’t come up here as pumped as they were, and you see the outcome.”
The loss snapped Ooltewah’s nine-game winning streak, in which they outscored their opponents, 75-9, and left a bad taste in coach Jon Massey’s mouth.
The Lady Owls walloped Cleveland, 19-0, on Tuesday and smacked Lady Blue Raiders pitching around for 19 hits, including four home runs. That effort pushed the Lady Owls’ team batting average to .400.
None of that offense showed up a day later.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t hit better because I’d like to think we swing the bats pretty well,” he said. “We didn’t generate anything. We couldn’t get a bunt down and we didn’t run the bases worth a crap, so it wasn’t a very good performance on our part.
Ooltewah’s lineup includes three players – Boseman, Cheyanne Sales and Sydney White – batting third, fourth and fifth. Coming into Wednesday’s game they had a combined 87 hits, 15 homers and 88 RBIs.
Against Pruitt, who beat Soddy-Daisy 3-1 on Tuesday, that threesome went 3-for-9 and got one ball out of the infield. They failed to score a run and drive in a run.
Pruitt held Ooltewah to four hits and struck out four and allowed one runner to get past second – Sales reached on an infield hit, went to second on a wild pitch and third on an infield groundout. The Lady Mustangs ace threw 82 pitches, 60 for strikes.
“We faced her in our first game with them, but she pitched a whole lot better today. She had more velocity and movement on her pitches.”
Said Limburg of Pruitt’s effort: “She threw a great game against Soddy-Daisy and today’s game was even better. She was ready to go.”
Boseman had two singles and the Lady Owls had only two balls reach the outfield – Boseman’s hit leading off the seventh and Carpenter’s drive to left that Frost snagged, hit the fence and she immediately fell to the turf. She stayed on the ground for several minutes and later jogged off after making the inning ending defensive gem.
“The girls never gave up, they kept fighting from the first pitch to the last, our defense was solid and Natalie pitched a wonderful ballgame. It was a complete team effort.”
Boseman yielded six hits and struck out 12, giving her 120 in 59.2 innings. She went into the game with a 0.79 ERA. Boseman threw 127 pitches, 84 for strikes.
The last time the two teams met, Ooltewah rallied to win a 16-15 slugfest on March 27
Ooltewah plays McMinn County on Thursday and concludes its league schedule with Soddy-Daisy (April 25) and East Hamilton (April 30).
“I hope we’ll be ready to play McMinn,” Massey said. “If not, we’ll lose again the way we did today.”
The Lady Mustangs play McMinn County (April 24) and Cleveland (April 25).
Ooltewah 000 000 0 – 0 4 0
Walker Valley 000 000 2 – 2 6 0
Boseman and Sales; Pruitt and Suits.
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)