The third time was the charm for the East Hamilton softball team.
Facing the Soddy Daisy Lady Trojans for the third time this spring, the first win for the Lady Canes couldn’t have come at a better time as it gave them the top seed for the upcoming District 5-AAA tournament, which will be at Cleveland.
Soddy Daisy’s Taylor Lloyd and East Hamilton’s Syerra Rogers locked up in an amazing pitcher’s dual and it’s a tough break that either of them had to lose as both deserved to get a win for the effort they put forth.
But when push came to shove and the game’s outcome still to be determined, it was Rogers who ripped an 0-2 pitch well over the fence in left with one out in the bottom of the ninth for the game-winning hit as the Lady Canes pulled out a dandy, 2-1, early Monday evening at East Hamilton.
East Hamilton improves to 20-6-1 overall and 11 in district play while Soddy Daisy is now 22-7 overall and 10-2 in 5-AAA.
While Rogers had the game-winning hit, she also did an outstanding job pitching as she allowed four hits and one run while walking one, hitting one and striking out 15. The Lady Canes also made three errors, but none of those base runners ever phased the 17-year-old senior.
Soddy Daisy’s Lloyd certainly deserved better fate.
She allowed back-to-back walks to Rogers and Grace Hixson in the first before retiring the next 24 batters in order. She struck out Shelbie Sholtz to start the ninth before Reese Knox poked a 3-2 pitch over the left fielder’s head for a triple and she was on base when Rogers hit her team-leading ninth home run of the season.
It couldn’t have come at a better time for the Lady Hurricanes.
“I knew when Reese got on that I couldn’t leave her out there,” Rogers explained the most important at-bat for her so far this season.
“I was tired as a pitcher and I figured that the Soddy Daisy girl was too and might be slowing down a little. It knew I had to be looking for a good pitch with two strikes, but I got a good swing and knew it was gone as soon as I hit it. But this feels so good to win the district and to be able to play at least one more time at home,” Rogers added.
A walk to Lloyd in the first produced Soddy Daisy’s first base runner while Makayla Perez reached on an error in the third and Hope Ingle on an error in the fifth. Perez had a leadoff single in the eighth before Courtney Sneed reached on a one-out error, but the Lady Trojans couldn’t get the big hit with runners in scoring position.
They finally broke the scoring drought in the ninth.
Ingle, who had two hits on the day, singled with two outs and went to second when Laila Pourfarzib got hit by a pitch. Perez then singled on a 1-2 pitch to drive in Ingle with Soddy Daisy’s only run before Rogers ended the inning with her 15th strikeout.
The Lady Hurricanes were down at this point, but never out.
Knox fouled off four straight pitches before roping a liner to deep left. She could have slowed down and settled for a double, but she never slowed down and kept churning to slide into third without a play for a triple.
Rogers took the first pitch for a strike and fouled off the second, but she got all of the third one as her hit created an instant celebration for the entire East Hamilton team.
East Hamilton coach Norma Nelson should be getting used to all of this come-from-behind stuff as her team has done it all spring. That’s why she calls them her “Cardiac Kids.”
“What a great battle between two really good pitchers. I told my kids that we didn’t have any hits going to the ninth and that we were better than that,” Nelson said with a big smile across her face.
“What an awesome job as again the cardiac kids came through. You just can’t ever count them out, but what a great job. They beat us in a tournament early and they beat us at their place, but we won when it mattered. Now we have a bye on Friday, so I told them they could all have dates that night,” the veteran coach laughed.
Soddy Daisy coach Kelsey Nunley-Moore has been on the receiving end of heart-breaking losses like that as a pitcher. It’s just something her kids have to move past as the most important games of the season are yet to be played.
“I thought we did a good job of battling, but we just have to keep competing. The result of this game isn’t what matters, but how we respond next week. I thought Taylor totally laid it out there and deserved better fate, but stuff like that happens,” the Soddy Daisy coach concluded.
Perez and Ingle both had two hits for Soddy Daisy while Knox and Rogers had the only hits of the game for East Hamilton.
East Hamilton is supposed to play at Marion County on Tuesday, but the weatherman may change those plans.
Soddy Daisy plays its next game at home on Friday against Bradley in the first round of the tournament while the Lady Hurricanes get a bye.
Other first round games have Ooltewah versus Cleveland and Walker Valley against McMinn County. The tournament then moves to Cleveland on Monday.
SODDY DAISY 000 000 001 – 1 4 0
EAST HAMILTON 000 000 002 – 2 2 3
Lloyd and Ingle; Rogers and N. Wasserstrom.
(Email John Hunt at email@example.com)