Addy Keylon, one of six seniors in her swan song to a successful four-year career, came up big at the plate Wednesday, helping Ooltewah beat rival Walker Valley, 7-3, to capture the team’s third Region 3-3A championship in four years at Jim Lovell Field.
Keylon, the Lady Owls’ leadoff batter, went 4-for-4 with a two-run single in the second inning and capped her brilliant effort with a towering three-run home run to right field in the sixth that provided the final victory margin.
“I would have to say this was my best game at Ooltewah,” she said. “It made me happy because I’ve been in a slump the past few games where my hits didn’t go anywhere, but today I stepped up when my team needed me.”
With the win, the Lady Owls (35-6), who have won nine straight games and 12 of the last 13, advanced to the Class 3A sectionals and will host the Region 4-3A runner-up Lincoln County on Saturday at 1 p.m. Lincoln County, which lost to Coffee County, 4-3, in the 4-3A title game, has graduation on Friday so the schools agreed to play Saturday.
The Lady Mustangs (30-9) will travel to play Coffee County on Friday.
Right-handed pitcher Kayla Boseman (20-1) dominated the Lady Mustangs with a record-tying 18-strikeout performance, including 12 straight during one stretch. After a leadoff double to Carissa Frost in the first inning, Boseman, who fanned 13 in a 12-0 five-inning no-hitter on Monday, retired the next 13 batters, and that run included the string of strikeouts.
Michele Benson’s sacrifice bunt in the first, Laney Harris’ fly-ball out to right in the sixth and Riley Suits’ fly ball to center leading off the eighth were the only three outs Ooltewah recorded that weren’t strikeouts.
Boseman, who yielded three runs in the fifth that wiped out the Lady Owls’ 3-0 lead, fanned Hannah Kate Singleton and Miranda Young to end the game.
Boseman made amends for giving up the three runs in the fifth by belting a solo home run to start the bottom of the inning and giving the Lady Owls a 4-3 lead.
But Boseman wanted to talk about her pal Keylon.
“Addy hit a missile and proved everyone wrong,” Boseman said. “Everybody kept telling Addy she couldn’t hit the ball out because she’s so little. I always believed in Addy and I congratulate her on showing people she can hit home runs.”
It was Keylon’s fourth homer of the season and she has 11 of her 61 hits have gone for extra bases. The four hits pushed her batting average to .462 and that’s second only to Boseman’s .511. Boseman now has eight home runs and 37 RBIs.
“Addy has been our catalyst in the leadoff spot all year long, and she’s got some pop,” Lady Owls coach Jon Massey said. “Monday and today she was the first one to the field to take extra batting practice with her dad and that paid off. She does a good job getting on base.”
In the second inning, Sydney White singled and moved to second on Tyler Sullivan’s sacrifice bunt. Mabry Carpenter walked and Makayla Strickland was hit by a Natalie Pruitt pitch to load the bases. White was forced out at the plate on Aubrey Smith’s infield grounder and Keylon, who reached on an infield hit in the first, delivered her two-run single to center field.
Carpenter singled in the fourth inning, moved to second when Smith reached on a two-out error and Keylon followed with a clutch RBI single up the middle, accounting for all three Ooltewah runs.
After Walker Valley scored three runs in the fifth, keyed by Abbey Davis’ two-run double down the left-field foul line to tie the game, Boseman responded with a go-ahead solo homer leading off the bottom of the inning.
“It was a pitch on the middle-out,” Boseman said, “but I was up on the (batter’s box) line and because of that it was a good pitch to hit.”
Still nursing the 4-3 lead into the sixth, Strickland laced a one-out double to right-center and pinch-hitter Marissa Forrester flipped a single to left. Keylon followed with her three-run blast to right. At first, it appeared Davis, the Lady Mustangs’ right fielder, had caught the ball but she came up empty.
“(Pruitt) throws me the same things with outside fastballs and then rise balls inside,” Keylon said. “So I was just waiting for that one pitch to hit and got it.”
Buoyed by Keylon’s clutch home run, Boseman quickly retired three in a row in the seventh to notch the win.
Ooltewah has won four of five meetings with Walker Valley this season and Boseman has pitched in all five games, starting four.
In the Lady Owls’ 16-15 win on March 27, Boseman pitched the final three innings in relief and struck out seven and gave up no hits and no runs. On April 28, she took the loss when Frost hit a game-winning two-run homer in the seventh inning of Walker Valley’s 2-0 win. Boseman went 6 2/3 innings and allowed six hits and struck out 12.
In back-to-back 6-1 wins in the District 5-3A tournament, Boseman threw a combined 14 innings, gave up two runs, six hits and fanned 19. On Wednesday, she followed up those strong outings with another exceptional performance: seven innings, three runs, three hits and the 18 strikeouts, tying her career-best 18 against McMinn County on April 3.
In the five games versus the Lady Mustangs, Boseman’s pitching abbreviated line is: 30 2/3 innings, seven runs, 15 hits and 56 strikeouts.
Walker Valley 000 030 0 – 3 3 1
Ooltewah 020 013 x – 7 10 1
Pruitt and Suits; Boseman and Sales.
(Contact Larry Fleming at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @larryfleming44)