The Lady Trojan Invitational began Friday morning in less than ideal weather conditions at Warner Park.
Tarps protected the infields of all four diamonds being used, but the outfields were soggy and the warning tracks had the texture of mud pies when heavy rain came back through the area in the third inning.
Baylor jumped on host Soddy-Daisy for three first-inning runs and cruised to an 8-0 victory on Syd Berzon’s two-hitter and an impressive 11-hit attack by the Lady Raiders.
“It’s hard to say if the weather affected either team,” Soddy-Daisy coach Travis Hale said. “It started pouring there in the third inning, but both teams seemed to handle that.”
One thing was certain when the Lady Trojans (22-9) batted in the bottom of the first inning. They had been swinging hot bats in recent games against McMinn County (twice), Bradley Central (twice), Ooltewah and Cleveland.
In those District 5-3A contests, Soddy-Daisy (22-9) scored 71 runs, banged out 88 hits that included 16 doubles, three triples and four home runs.
Berzon was like an ice bucket in the circle, cooling off Soddy-Daisy bats by retiring the first seven and checking the Lady Trojans on two hits – a third-inning single by Hope Ingle and Kaylin Fugatt’s two-out single in the fourth inning when the time limit expired.
The Lady Raiders had eight hits and six runs before Ingle broke up Berzon’s no-hit bid.
“That is the kind of pitcher I wanted our girls to face today,” Hale said of Berzon. “She’s really good and we’ll get more out of this game than we would facing a pitcher not that good.”
Berzon struck out nine and walked one – Baylie Davis in the rainy third inning. That was the only inning Soddy-Daisy managed two base runners – they only had three in the game. Ingle singled and Davis walked with one out and Berzon struck out Courtney Sneed and Stephanie Blevins to keep the shutout alive.
“I was pretty much in command of my pitches,” Berzon said. “I used my riser a lot for an out pitch.”
It never hurts to have teammates stake a starting pitcher to a three-run cushion before even taking the circle.
“We feel confident with any of our three pitchers in the rotation that if we give them with a couple of runs early we’ll be in good shape,” Baylor coach Kelli Smith said.
That’s exactly what happened.
Emily Rye started things off against Soddy-Daisy starter Emily Higgins with a slap single down the left-field foul line, moved to second on Makayla Packer’s sacrifice bunt, scooted to third on the first of three hits by Sophie Piskos and scored on a throwing error by Soddy-Daisy catcher Jayde Baron. Piskos wound up at second.
Sellers followed with a two-run homer to right.
“We had been popping up a lot of balls,” Sellers said. “This is our first game that we hit down on the ball and hit line drives. Their pitcher was throwing a lot of first-pitch strikes and we were looking for that pitch and our approach was much better today.”
Higgins retired Baylor in order in the second but ran into trouble again in the third.
Piskos singled to left. After Sellers struck out, Berzon doubled to right to drive home Britt Barton, courtesy runner for Piskos. Raven Jones singled and Brinley Garrison’s double scored Bailee Stack, running for Berzon. Jones later came home on Macy Ann McKnight’s sacrifice fly.
“Today we made some nice hitting adjustments,” Smith said. “The pitcher was ahead in the count and we did a great job hitting with two strikes while adjusting to the outside pitch. We were hitting the ball on the nose and that’s much better than the weak fly balls we’ve been having.”
With the sun trying to break through the cloud cover, Packer ripped a sharp single to right and scored on Piskos’ double to right-center field, her third hit of the game. Barton, again running for Piskos, capped the Lady Red Raiders’ when she raced home on Sellers’ second hit.
Maryville 4, Soddy-Daisy 3: The Lady Rebels scored the winning run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Baylie Davis was the losing pitcher, going 5 2/3 innings and giving up five hits, three runs while striking out eight. Courtney Sneed had two of Soddy-Daisy’s four hits.
Soddy-Daisy 6, Dekalb County 3: Baylie Davis and Hope Ingle cracked home runs and combined to go 4 for 6 with three RBIs and three runs scored, led the Lady Trojans past Dekalb County in their final game of the day.
Ingle hit a two-run homer in a three-run fifth and Davis slugged a solo homer leading off the fourth. Courtney Sneed went 3 for 4 and the threesome accounted for seven of the team’s nine hits.
Stephanie Blevins was the starting pitcher and worked 2 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and three runs while striking out five and walking two. Taylor Lloyd pitched the final 2 2/3 innings of one-hit relief. She fanned two and picked up the win.
Gibbs 12, McMinn County 0: In a game cut to three innings by the time limit, the Lady Eagles scored four runs in the first and eight in the third.
Ninth-place hitter Moriah Erwin had the Lady Cherokees’ only hit, a double to center with one out in the final inning.
Page 11, McMinn County 2: Already leading 3-2, Page scored a combined eight runs in the third and fourth in a game halted by the time limit after the fourth inning.
Emily Baxter had two hits, including a double, for the Lady Cherokees.
Sequatchie County 7, McMinn County 5: Jesyca Dennis went 4 for 4, including a double, to power the Lady Indians to the victory.
Brooke Mizell and Emily Baxter each had two hits for McMinn.
Baylor 303 2 – 8 11 1
Soddy-Daisy 000 0 – 0 2 2
Berzon and Piskos; Higgins and Baron.
(Contact Larry Fleming at email@example.com and on Twitter @larryfleming44)