With her team in a 7-0 hole, junior Baylee Carroll woke Bradley Central up with a three-run blast over the left field fence, but the late rally came up one run shy.
An insurance run in the top of the fifth paid dividends for Ooltewah (2-0, 2-0 District 5-AAA) as the Lady Owls held on for an 8-7 victory at Bob McKenzie Field Thursday night.
“Baylee’s home run really got us going then we were able to capitalize on some Ooltewah errors, combined with some good hits to get right back in it,” declared Bearette assistant coach Terry McElhaney.
“We finally got our bats rolling and did what we knew we could do,” he added. “We talk about hitting and being solid at the plate at every practice and that’s what we did today.”
Weather permitting, Bradley (0-2, 0-2) will return to the diamond this evening at 7:30, participating in the Lady Raider Classic. The Bearettes will take on Silverdale Baptist Academy on Lee University’s Field No. 2. Bradley will turn around and face Red Bank at 8 Saturday morning and CSAS at 11 on Cleveland High’s field.
Ooltewah started building its lead early Thursday evening as the first five batters in the top of the second reached base and three came around to score.
The Lady Owls circled the bases three more times in their next at bat and then tacked on another run in the fourth thanks to a pair of two-out hits.
Things start looking up for the home team in the bottom of the fourth when Courtney Webb open the at bat with a single and went to second on an error.
A trio of fielder’s choices followed, leaving two out and a pair of Bearette base runners when Carroll, who had pinged the top of the fence for a double in her first at bat, stepped into the batter’s box and sent a shot out of the park to bring Black-and-Gold fans to their feet.
After the visitors added their final run in the fifth frame, Bradley got things going again when Makayla Ard and Meghan Ward opened the bottom of the sixth with back-to-back singles. When Carroll stepped back up to the plate with one out, she drew the game’s lone walk to load the bases.
Freshman Vontres Harrison then hit a hard shot to the Lady Owl shortstop, who tried to get the runner headed to third but two throwing errors later Bradley had cleared the bases and Harrison stood on third. The speedster from Mississippi scored a moment later when she jetted in on a wild pitch to pull Bradley within a run.
The Bearettes got a final chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh when Ard laced a two-out hit. She moved to second on a wild pitch but was stranded there when the final out was recorded.
Bradley put together seven hits, with Carroll’s double, homer and walk leading the way. Ard also reached base three times, including a pair of singles. Pitcher Allison Conley helped her own cause with a double.
“It was a good team effort,” proclaimed coach McElhaney. “We need all nine working together to be successful. Our pitcher (Conley) gave us a chance to win, and we made a great run at it, but we just didn’t finish the job.”
Ooltewah pounded out 15 hits, including pitcher Taylor Baird reaching base four times, including a pair of doubles and driving in a couple of teammates.
Kelsey Chernak and Sloan Sullivan also plated a pair of base runners. Abby Daniels helped out with a double and a single. Kerri Catchings went 3-for-3, with a double and a sacrifice bunt.
“Ooltewah is a very good-hitting team and for us to be able to rally and stay with them like that shows a lot of character,” praised McElhaney.
LADY OWLS 8, BEARETTES 7
Ooltewah 033 110 0 — 8 15 3
Bradley Central 000 304 0 — 7 7 1
WP: Taylor Baird (2-0) 7 IP, 7 K, 1 BB, 7 H, 4 ER. LP: Allison Conley (0-1) 7 IP, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 15 H, 8 ER. HR: Baylee Carroll (BC). 2B: Taylor Baird 2, Abby Daniels, Kerri Catchings; Morgan Hildago (RC); Allison Conley, Carroll (BC). RBIs: Baird 2, Kelsey Chernak 2, Sloan Sullivan 2, Catchings, Allie Jones (O); Carroll 3, Vontres Harrison (BC). Records: Ooltewah 2-0, 2-0 District 5-AAA; Bradley Central 0-2, 0-2 District 5-AAA.