CLEVELAND, Tenn. — Cleveland's Kaylee Bayne had two hits in four at bats against Walker Valley Thursday. A single in the first was a good start, but her three run home run in the bottom of the sixth gave the Lady Raiders the boost they needed to hold off a late Lady Mustangs charge in a 7-6 district softball win.
Bayne's blast was one of nine Cleveland hits on the aft noon that included a fourth inning homer off the bat of Brooklynn Deaver. The Lady Mustangs picked up five hits off winning pitcher Lily O'Bryan that also incorporated an Addison Woodall dinger that added a couple of gray hairs to Cleveland coach K.J. Harris' head in the seventh inning.
O'Bryan went the distance for the Lady Raiders (4-1, 2-1 District 5-4A) giving up just five hits while striking out 10. She walked five Lady Mustangs (8-4, 3-1) and was charged with four earned runs.
“I thought both pitchers threw very well. They were focused in and made good adjustments. They didn't fall to the strike zone or get discouraged,” said Lady Raiders head coach K.J. Harris. “I thought both (Ryan) Presswood and Lily had a great day.”
Ryann Presswood took the tough loss for Walker Valley. Cleveland recorded nine hits off Presswood who booked seven Ks and three walks on the afternoon.
“I thought Ryan pitched really well. She did a great job mixing in and out, mixing speeds,” lauded Lady Mustangs head coach Lauren Limburg. “I've been really impressed with her and I'm very thankful she's on our team.”
The Lady Mustangs jumped to an early lead in the top of the first inning when Karly Blackwell and Alyssa Davenport reached base after a walk and hit batter. Both runner scored when Presswood singled to center field.
The Walker Valley lead held up for exactly one half inning as the Lady Raiders came right back in the bottom half of the first to tie the game at 2-2 beginning with a double to center off the bat of O'Bryan. After stealing third, O'Bryan scored on a Bayne single. Bayne later knotted the score at 2-2 racing home on a Lilly Mason single to center.
The Lady Mustangs regained the lead in the top of the second when Brylie Davis trotted to first after being hit by a pitch and scored on a three base error on a throw to first.
Walker Valley added another run in the third taking advantage of a pair of O'Bryan free passes that led to a 4-2 Lady Mustangs lead.
The Lady Raiders got one run back in the bottom half of the fourth inning when Deaver's one out shot cleared the center-field fence.
After a scoreless fifth inning, the Lady Raiders fired up with four runs in the lower half of the sixth as Alexis Folts and Deaver reached base on a walk and Waler Valley error. Presswood recorded two outs before O'Bryan beat out an infield hit and seconds later trotted home when Bayne sent the leather sailing over the left-field fence giving Cleveland a 7-4 lead.
“Our seniors stepped up. Both hit home runs, Kaylee Bayne and Brooklynn Deaver, and it couldn't happen to two better leaders,” praised Harris.
But, the Lady Mustangs did not go quietly. Amy Benson beat out an infield hit and trotted home when Addison Woodall cracked a homer over the center-field fence to close the gap to 7-6. Kiarra Nicholes kept the Lady Mustangs in business with a double off the center-field fence and stood on third after a passed ball with two outs. But, O'Bryan got a ground ball to second and Landri Nelson's throw to first ended the comeback for the Lady Mustangs.
“Both teams played really well. Congrats to Cleveland on the win. I'm just so proud of our girls for fighting back and never giving up and playing to the last out. We talk about it all the time. You are never out until the last out. We fought back and I was just really impressed with their effort and their character coming back,” said Limburg.
“We had some opportunities with runners on base that we didn't get that hit (we needed). It happens every game, but I'm just really proud of our girls and their effort fighting to the end. I'm very thankful and very proud to be their coach.”
The Lady Mustangs will travel this weekend in Kingsport.
“We've got a tournament in Kingsport. It's always a tough tournament. We go there to play tough competition. We feel like that helps us prepare us for the postseason. We're excited to go there and compete. We just hope the weather cooperates.”
The Lady Raiders turn right around and will take the field again Friday in a make up game on the road against Ooltewah.
“If we're struggling at bat early that's fine because most people know our strengths are our bats,” said Harris. “Then we've got to take care of business on the opposite side defensively. I didn't feel like we did that early on and that put a lot of pressure on our bats. But, we are, luckily, good hitters and we were able to get out of it,” said Harris.”
Walker Valley 211 000 2 — 6 5 1
Cleveland 200 104 x — 7 9 3
WP: Lilly O'Bryn LP: Ryann Presswood HR: Addison Woodall (WV); Kaylee Bayne, Brooklynn Deaver (C). 2B: Kiarra Nicholes (WV); O'Bryan (C). HIGHLIGHTS: Nicholes 1-2, Amy Benson 1-3 2RS, Addison Woodall 1-3 RS 2RBI, Presswood 3RBI, Brylie Davis RS (WV); O'Bryan 3-4 2RS RBI, Bayne 2-4 2RS 4RBI, Allison Turner RS, Deaver 1-3 RS RBI (C). RECORDS: Walker Valley 8-4, 3-1; Cleveland 4-1, 2-1.