Harris had confused the Lady Mustangs with her off-speed tosses through a 4-2 win last week on the Walker Valley field, and she enjoyed a 1-0 lead after three innings Monday.
Coach Lauren Limburg’s girls then discovered a little patience can pay off. They began to wait for desirable pitches in the fourth inning and pounded Harris with five hits and six runs to take control of the game.
“It was a total team effort,” said Limburg after the big win. “We began to hit the ball, played good defense and got good pitching.
“We suddenly had a different group of girls and they began to wait on strikes,” Limburg continued. “They adjusted to Harris. They really stepped up and I’m proud of them ... one through nine (in the lineup.”
Monday’s come-from-behind victory improves Walker Valley’s softball record to 17-8 and the Lady Mustangs are among the district front-runners with a 6-2 league record. McMinn County dropped to 14-11 and 4-5 with the loss.
Senior Laurel Allen continues her torrid hitting for the Lady Mustangs. She had a long home run to highlight her team’s six-run fourth inning, and later added a single.
Walker Valley got superb pitching from starter Sidney Hooper and reliever Lauren Lawson, who got the save. Hooper allowed a run in the bottom of the first, but then shut the Lady Cherokees down over the remainder of the first five innings.
Lawson came on in the sixth and pitched two scoreless innings. She was sensational in the seventh frame, with 11 strikes on 12 pitches.
Allen’s home run was the big blow for the Lady Mustangs offensively, but she had plenty of help in the form of Walker Valley’s 13 hits ... 11 over the final four innings. Leslie Still slammed out three singles and Allie Morrow and Morgan Elrod had two hits each. The team’s other four hits came from Hooper, Rachel Percy, Baylee Boen and Ashley Lewis.
Lauren Benson and Rachel Lillard had two hits each for McMinn County, with Madison Quirk, Kelsey Hester and Melissa Richardson adding singles. Three of the Tribe’s hits came over the first three innings, and they got two in the sixth without a run.
McMinn County scored first in the opening frame. Lillard led off with a bunt single, but Hooper came back with successive strikeouts. Quirk worked Hooper for a walk and Richardson singled to score the run. Hooper escaped the inning on a liner to third.
Hooper and Still had singles in the first and second innings, but both were stranded on base.
The fourth inning opened innocently enough with Hooper reaching on an error by the second baseman. Senior Kayla Sewell then laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move Hooper to second. Elrod then reached on a second error and the Lady Mustangs had two base runners.
The roof then fell in on Harris and her Tribe. Still got a single to tie the game and Morrow put Walker Valley in front with another hit for a 2-1 lead. Percy then connected for a single up the middle before Allen unloaded her three-run home run over the center-field fence. Boen added a single to close out the big inning.
Walker Valley threatened again in the top of the fifth with two singles, but couldn’t score. The Lady Mustangs added their final run in the sixth on a single by Allen, a stolen base and back-to-back errors.
McMinn County challenged in the bottom of the sixth with two singles and a Walker Valley error, but a fly to left and two pop-ups ended the game.
LADY MUSTANGS 7, LADY CHEROKEES 1
Walker Valley 000 601 0 — 7 13 1
McMinn County 100 000 0 — 1 7 3
Records: Walker Valley 17-8, 6-2 District 5-AAA; McMinn County 14-11 and 4-5.