Despite what appeared would be an early inning rout by the visitors, Cleveland held its ground and put the pressure on late. Unfortunately, it was too much ground to make up, and the Lady Raiders fell 10-8.
McMinn wasted no time getting on base as Cleveland’s starter struggled with hot Lady Cherokee bats and control problems early.
The visitors led off the game with a quick double, followed by a base-on-balls, an RBI extra base hit, another walk and two more runs, aided by wild pitches and defensive miscues.
In Cleveland’s half of the inning Jacora Parker got things started with a leadoff single and then proceeded to steal the diamond, finally ending up on third.
Parker soon scampered home on a McMinn wild pitch to bring the score to 4-1. Nanea Haruo tacked on a base hit of her own, but was left stranded.
It was another rocky half of an inning for Cleveland when the Lady Cherokees stepped back into the batter’s box.
A hit batter was advanced when a sacrifice bunt turned into a single, followed by another single, an RBI sacrifice fly and a 2-RBI double before the bleeding was stemmed at 7-1.
If the defensive woes weren’t bad enough McMinn’s starter really found her stride during the middle innings, going three-up, three-down in the second, third, fourth and fifth.
The Lady Cherokees added insult to injury in their half of the fourth when a leadoff hit was extended by an error and then turned into the team’s eighth run.
With hope seemingly fleeting coach Connie Stobert mixed things up with the Lady Raider lineup to give some other girls an opportunity.
Patience at the plate played a key role in the bottom half of the sixth when Cleveland sophomore Hannah Holland led off with a five-pitch walk. Jacora Parker advanced the runner with a two-bag hit and Yoshi Hooks loaded the bases when she drew a walk of her own.
Carly Frost stepped up and drove in a run with an RBI single. The Cleveland bench now had some life to it.
Brittany Arnold notched an RBI single, a run came in on a McMinn throwing error and Karli Davis knocked in a run with a base hit. Haley Hodgson kept the carousel going with another RBI knock and Taylor Yoder capped things with an RBI sacrifice grounder.
When the dust settled, the Lady Raider had plated six runs and had brought the game to an 8-7 horse race.
The Lady Cherokees weren’t about to go down quietly, though. The squad plated two more to start the seventh and give them some breathing room.
Yet, the momentum still seemed to be with the Lady Raiders, and down to their last three outs, the team appeared poised to make a game-winning surge.
Hooks did her best to kick things off with a leadoff single that turned into extra bases on another McMinn error. She advanced to third on a groundout and came home when Haruo popped up a sac fly. But, the rally ended there, and the Cleveland girls were forced to accept a 10-8 final in favor of the Lady Cherokees.
The Lady Raiders will need to pick themselves up as they host another tough district matchup this afternoon against the formidable Ooltewah Lady Owls. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.
LADY CHEROKEES 10, LADY RAIDERS 8
McMinn County 430 100 2 — 10 9 6
Cleveland 100 006 1 — 8 9 7
WP: Jordan Harris 7 IP, 5 Ks, 2 BB, 9 H, 5 ER. LP: Mikaela Clements 1.2 IP, 1 Ks, 2 BB, 4 H, 3 ER. 2B: Jacora Parker (CHS); Destiny Watson, Madison Quirk, Alyssa King, Rachel Lillard (MC). RBIs: Carly Frost, Brittany Arnold, Karli Davis, Haley Hodgson, Taylor Yoder (CHS); Watson, Quick 2, Kourtney Yarber, King 3 (MC). Records: Cleveland 4-3.