With a trio of starters on the bench and a very uncharacteristic four fielding errors leading to a pair of unearned runs, the Lady Mustangs dropped 4-1 decision to regular season District 6-AA champion East Hamilton.
“This was not what we expected. We didn’t play our game,” proclaimed Walker Valley head coach Lauren Limburg. “We didn’t capitalize when we had runners on base and our play in the field lacked focus.”
The Lady Mustang mentor did praise her team for not giving up, with sophomore AJ Chancey blasting her 10th home run of the season to open the seventh inning, plus Walker Valley getting two more runners on base and bringing the potential tying run to the plate before the final out was recorded.
“I did like the fact that we fought to the very last pitch,” coach Limburg commented. “We have got to do better at the plate.”
After going 24-4 in the regular season, including a perfect 12-0 league mark, Walker Valley will open District 5-AAA Tournament play at the top seed Saturday, facing the winner of No. 4 Ooltewah and fifth-seeded McMinn County at 1 p.m. at Rhea County High School.
East Hamilton (15-12-2), which also went unbeaten in its conference games during the campaign, took advantage of a pair of Lady Mustang miscues to plate a pair of runs in the bottom of the first Wednesday and then got a RBI-double from Rachel Gamble to push the led to 3-0.
The Lady Hurricanes tacked on another score in their second at bat thanks to a walk, an error and a single by Shaliyah Geathers. That would be the final run for the home team, who had at least one base runner in each of its final four at bats, but one were able to complete the circle.
After giving up a pair of hits in the first two frames, East Hamilton ace Maria Walshe set down a dozen Lady Mustangs in a row before sophomore Hallie Davis beat out a two-out dribbler down the first base line in the sixth but the next batter flew out to end the at bat.
Chancey woke the “Fillies” up went she sent the first pitch of the seventh inning over the left field fence.
Sophomore Alicia Raymond stroked her second hit of the day with a one-out double to keep the Walker Valley hopes alive and classmate Lara Bean put runners on the corner with a two-out single, but that would be as close as they would come as the left-handed Lady ‘Cane hurler blew a 2-2 pitch past the next batter to close out the contest with her third strike out.
With Austin Peay signee Sidney Hooper taking a break from the circle, Raymond handle the pitching duties for the Lady Mustangs, scattering nine hits, while striking out a pair and walking two.
“East Hamilton is a great team and didn’t lose any of their district games, but this (the loss) was on us,” coach Limburg lamented. “Alicia (Raymond) did a good job pitching, but we didn’t back her up in the field.”
Just open for four years, East Hamilton will be joining District 5-AAA in all sports beginning next school year.
Walker Valley 000 000 1 — 1 6 4
East Hamilton 310 000 x — 4 9 0
WP: Maria Walshe 7 IP, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 6 hits, 1 ER. LP: Alicia Raymond. Highlights: Raymond 2-3; AJ Chancey HR, RBI (WV); Shaliyah Geathers 2H, RBI; Rachel Gamble 2H (2B), RBI (EH). Records: Walker Valley 24-4; East Hamilton 15-12-2.