Walker Valley softball coach Lauren Limburg said the Lady Mustangs were ready to play Monday against District 5-AAA rival Ooltewah. Little did she or the Lady Mustangs know it would take a walk-off hit in the bottom of the ninth to finally put away their archrival with a 3-2 win.
“They were ready to play and they were excited. They played a great game on Saturday against Baylor but came up short. I think they were really motivated and excited to play an excellent team and district foe in Ooltewah. They were ready and came out fighting,” said a pleased Limburg.
“We played great defensively. I don’t think we had any errors. That’s all I can ask is to play great defense and keep playing solid. Ooltewah is an excellent, excellent team.”
Walker Valley ace Sidney Hooper and Ooltewah standout hurler Taylor Baird battled toe-to-toe in the extra-inning affair before Hooper was able to claim the win. The Walker Valley junior recorded five strikeouts and gave up five hits including a home run in the sixth that tied the game at 2-2. Hooper issued only a pair of walks.
Ooltewah’s Baird allowed seven hits and gave up five free passes while fanning two.
The Lady Mustangs (16-5, 5-1 District 5-AAA) got on the board first in the bottom of the third. A.J. Chancey led off with a double to left field, worked her way to third and scored on a ground ball to make it 1-0.
The Lady Owls (19-8, 4-3) scored one to tie it in the top of the fourth on a walk and two singles. But, Walker Valley came right back in the lower half of the frame to take its second lead of the day.
Mackenzie Elrod started it off for the Lady Mustangs with a single to left, but was later thrown out at the plate. Allie Morrow reached on an Ooltewah error and raced home for a 2-1 Walker Valley lead on Rachel Percy’s double to left.
After a scoreless fifth, Ooltewah tied the game at 2-2 when Katelyn Bowen took the first pitch from Hooper over the center-field fence.
The Lady Mustangs threatened to win the game in the seventh after loading the bases with two outs. Hooper came within an eyelash of getting the game-winning hit, but a sparkling over-the-shoulder, running catch by Lady Owls’ center fielder Bowen ended the inning to preserve the tie.
Both sides went down in order in the eighth and Hooper put the Lady Owls down in order again in the ninth.
Walks to Morrow and Percy set the Lady Mustangs up for business in the bottom of the inning. The runners moved up on a wild pitch and Hallie Davis sent Walker Valley fans home happy with a scorching line drive that one hopped against the left-field fence, scoring Morris and giving the Lady Mustangs the win.
“Hallie stepped up with a great hit. She works extremely hard on her hitting. I was so proud of her I told the girls she got the game-winning hit, but she couldn’t have gotten that hit without the other girls being on base. That’s what makes our team special. It’s a team effort,” Limburg said of the win.
“Our bats didn’t come around as much as we would have liked, but we kept getting base runners. She (Baird) is a great pitcher and they are a great defensive team. You have to get hits. You aren’t going to get anything given to you. We came through and I’m really proud of the girls. It was just a total team effort.”
LADY MUSTANGS 3, LADY OWLS 2
Ooltewah 000 101 000 — 2 5 1
Walker Valley 001 100 001 — 3 7 0
WP: Sidney Hooper. LP: Taylor Baird. HR: Katelyn Bowen (O). 2B: A.J. Chancey, Hallie Davis, Rachel Percy (WV). Highlights: Hooper 2-4, Davis 2-5. Records: Ooltewah 19-8, 4-3; Walker Valley 16-5, 5-1.