First, Walker Valley wanted to exact revenge against Rhea County for an earlier loss in regular season play. Second, the Lady Mustangs needed to turn around and beat Ooltewah for a chance to play Soddy-Daisy in the championship game.
The Lady Mustangs took care of the first part of their district quest with a 3-0 win over the Lady Eagles. In their second elimination doubleheader, the Lady Herd fought off fatigue and paid Ooltewah back for last year’s elimination, reaching the district finals and a berth in the Region 3 tournament with a 4-0 win.
The Lady Mustangs still have a way to go to win the District 5-AAA championship. Walker Valley must beat the Lady Trojans of Soddy-Daisy twice tonight to bring home the crown. The first pitch of the championship matchup is scheduled for 6 p.m.
“This has been an awesome day. I told the girls it was theirs to go get, they weren’t going to give it to us. We faced two really tough teams in Rhea and Ooltewah and I just can’t say enough about how each one of the girls contributed,” said Lady Mustangs coach Lauren Limburg. “Each one of them made this day so special and I’m just so proud of the girls for their unwillingness to back down and their continued fight. Even when things didn’t go our way they kept fighting and kept believing in each other. That is what makes them such a special group.”
Limburg was particularly proud of the way the Lady Mustangs battled first nerves in the first game and picked up the pace carrying the momentum into Game 2.
“We had some nerves in the first game. Once we got through a couple of rough patches we really came together. The leaders stepped up, the girls came out of it and they played great, each one of them. All 16 of them contributed,” lauded the Lady Mustangs coach.
Walker Valley got off to a slow start and squandered a chance to put runs on the board in their second at bat. Bayleigh Morgan and Hallie Davis led of with a double and single. Leslie Still loaded the bases with a 2-out walk, but a pop fly ended the threat. Ooltewah pushed a runner to third in the bottom of the inning where she was left stranded preserving the 0-0 tie.
The Lady Mustangs fought out of another tough spot in the fourth. The Lady Owls reached second and third before winning pitcher Sidney Hooper converted back-to-back ground ball for outs to end the inning.
Hooper’s stellar performance was a cornerstone for the Lady Mustangs in the two Tuesday games. The Walker Valley hurler gave up a total of nine hits on the afternoon, four to Rhea County and five to Ooltewah. The junior righty struck out eight batters and walked four.
“I can’t say enough about Sidney. She’s one of the hardest workers on the team and she gave everything she had, just like all the other girls. She pitched two incredible ballgames,” Limburg said of her ace.
The Lady Mustangs found what they had been looking for in the top of the fifth. Davis opened the frame with a single to left field and later scored on an Ooltewah error. Back-to-back doubles by Still and Mackensie Elrod put two more on the board and the Lady Mustangs broke the deadlock to lead 3-0.
After a scoreless sixth, Walker Valley tacked on an insurance run in the seventh after Still walked and scored on a one-out single by Rachel Percy, upping the score to 4-0.
The Lady Mustangs retired the side in order in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win.
Limburg told her girls in the postgame huddle to enjoy the moment, but get ready to forget the the back-to-back wins and get their game faces ready for a tough back-to-back war with Soddy-Daisy.
“We have to come ready with our game face on. Soddy is a great team, obviously. They have beaten us twice already this year. We are just going to come and give everything we have and fight like we did today,” Limburg said. “As a competitor you come into every game feeling you can win regardless of who your opponent is. We’re going to come out and give as much effort as we can and do our absolute best.”
LADY MUSTANGS, 3
LADY EAGLES 0
Starting pitcher Hooper and the Lady Mustangs were forced to work out of a second inning jam when the Lady Eagles loaded the bases with two outs. But, Hooper got the strikeout to end the threat.
The Lady Mustangs picked up two runs in the bottom of the inning on singles by Eryn Walker and Morgan. Percy added a double and the Lady Eagles helped out with an error.
Walker Valley made it 3-0 when Baylee Boen doubled and scored on a Leslie Still sacrifice fly.
The Lady Mustangs held off a run by Rhea County again in the sixth when the Lady Eagles put runners on first and third with only one out. Hooper got two pop flies to sit the side down.
Walker Valley tried to add to its lead in the sixth, getting Morgan and Boen to second and third before the Lady Owls slammed the door on the attempted rally.
Walker Valley didn’t stay down, however. In their last at bat Still led off with a walk and scored on Elrod’s single to make it 4-0.
LADY MUSTANGS 3, LADY EAGLES 0
Rhea Country 000 000 0 — 0 4 2
Walker Valley 021 000 x — 3 8 5
WP: Sidney Hooper. LP: Hanna Manley. 2B: Baylee Boen, Rachel Percy (WV). Highlights: Percy 3-3 (WV).
LADY MUSTANGS 4, LADY OWLS 0
Walker Valley 000 030 1 — 4 11 0
Ooltewah 000 000 0 — 0 5 1
WP: Sidney Hooper. LP: Taylor Baird. 2B: Leslie Still (2), Bayleigh Morgan, Mackenzie Elrod (WV). Highlights: Still 2-2, Elrod 2-4, Hallie Davis 2-4, Bayleigh Morgan 2-4; Abby Daniels 2-3 (O). Records: Walker Valley 25-9; Ooltewah 27-11.