East Hamilton and Soddy Daisy have quickly become intense rivals on the softball field and never was that any more evident than at Soddy Daisy’s Clifford Kirk Stadium/Lamar Lasley Field Thursday afternoon.
These two teams are by far the best two teams in district 6-AAA and both have the talent and experience to play at the state tournament in Murfreesboro in late May.
East Hamilton entered Thursday’s game with an overall record of 10-2 and 4-0 in the district while Soddy Daisy entered at 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the district.
The Lady Hurricanes never trailed in this game as scored single runs in the first and third innings. The Lady Trojans answered both times with single runs in the second and fourth innings.
East Hamilton was able to take the lead for the last time with another solo run in the sixth and Soddy Daisy was unable to get even a third time.
But things got mighty interesting in the bottom of the seventh and the Lady Trojans trailing by a run.
Jenna Sims, whose solo homer in the second inning tied the game the first time, led off with a single. Catcher Adasyn Wilkey appeared to double to the fence in left center, putting runners on second and third with nobody out, but apparently the home plate umpire had called time just before the pitch was delivered, so Wilkey came back to the plate and pinch-runner Kaylee Robertson back to first, much to the displeasure of Soddy Daisy coach Kelsey Nunley-Moore.
Wilkey ended up reaching first after getting hit by a pitch before pinch-hitter Wylee Woodward made the first out on a swinging third strike. Hannah Patterson then singled to right to load the bases, still with only one out.
East Hamilton pitcher Ashlynn Watkins then got Lily Blaylock on a pop to short for the second out and then leadoff hitter Skyler Gooden on a called strike three to end the game.
East Hamilton coach Norma Nelson knew that it would be a battle as it usually is, but she was just happy that her team was fortunate enough to leave for home with a hard-earned win.
“That was a lot of fun,” she said in jest shortly after a post-game meeting with her players.
“We led the whole way, but I just wanted to score early to put a little pressure on them. I thought Ashlynn really bowed up in that last inning as she threw some quality pitches late. But we’re the district champion as we don’t play them again in regular season.
“We didn’t get as many hits as I would have liked, but we got the big hits when we needed them. And speed kills,” she said in reference to her leadoff hitter Reese Knox, who reached base in three of her four at-bats and scored the first two runs for the Lady Canes.
“And Bella McDonald had a huge hit in the sixth for the game-winning run, but it’s been a really long time since we won a game on this field,” Nelson added.
Soddy Daisy’s Nunley-Moore was not a very happy person following the game, but she was quick to point out that East Hamilton won their regular-season game at home last year before Soddy Daisy came back to win the tournament.
“I just feel like we got robbed,” she said matter of factly while her players were raking different parts of the infield.
“Maybe the umpire called time, but I didn’t hear him. I thought that Regan (Rowan) pitched pretty well, but not great. And we had too many pop-ups, but I liked our fight and energy that we displayed. I’m hoping a game like this will light a fire under us as that’s what we need, but it’s tough to win a game against anybody when you only score two runs,” she concluded with a smile.
Knox reached base in the first inning on a bunt single and promptly stole second before going to third on a grounder to second by Bailey Poschke. The speedy center fielder then scored when she broke toward home, got a throw from catcher Wilkey that sailed as she scooted home.
Sims had a solo homer to knot the score at 1-1 in the second.
Knox walked with one out in the third and scored on a two-out double by Grace Hixson. But once more, the Lady Trojans knotted the score a second time an inning later when Rowan slugged a one-out solo homer, almost in the same spot as the first one.
The Lady Canes then scored what turned out to be the winning run in the sixth. Henley Apps led off with a double and went to third on a sacrifice bunt by Yulai Woodruff. Madilyn Evans, who had singled in her first two times up, was walked intentionally to put runners at the corners before McDonald made the plan backfire with a sharp single up the middle on the first pitch.
Watkins was the winning pitcher after allowing those two runs on six hits. She also had four strikeouts and no walks. Rowan was the tough-luck loser after surrendering three runs on seven hits. She finished with six strikeouts and six walks, two of them intentional.
Evans was the only East Hamilton player with two hits while Sims and Patterson both had two for Soddy Daisy.
East Hamilton was supposed to host the Choo Choo Invitational at the Summit this weekend, but it’s been cancelled for lack of teams. Both teams will be on spring break next week with the Lady Canes traveling to Chattanooga Christian for its next game on Monday, April 10.
The Lady Trojans will host the Clifford Kirk Memorial Tournament at the Soddy Daisy Kids Club fields across from Soddy Lake on Highway 27, starting next Friday. Championship games in both the Gold and Silver divisions will be played on Saturday around 2:30.
EAST HAMILTON 101 001 0 – 3 7 1
SODDY DAISY 010 100 0 – 2 6 2
Watkins and Poschke; Rowan and Wilkey.
(Email John Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org)