Bayleigh Morgan’s bat and Baylee Boen’s glove did everything they could, but they weren’t quite enough to prevent Walker Valley’s first softball loss of the young season.
Morgan blasted a pair of home runs, including a game-tying grand slam in the bottom of the sixth inning, and drove in all five Lady Mustang runs, while Boen made a trio of great catches on balls hit into the outfield gaps, but GPS was able to pull out a 7-5 victory with a final inning rally.
“Bayleigh Morgan really stepped up with her bat and Baylee Boen covered so much ground and kept us in the game with her catches on balls that would have gone for extra bases if she didn’t catch them,” declared Walker Valley head coach Lauren Limburg.
“I’m proud of the way we kept fighting. We got behind, but we didn’t give up and came back to tie the game going into the final inning, but just weren’t able to pull out the win.”
The loss was the first in four games for the Lady Mustangs, while GPS has scored 14 runs in just a pair of victories.
“GPS is an excellent team and we hung with them,” coach Limburg proclaimed. “We had a few defensive mistakes (three errors), but we showed a lot of fight and desire and that speaks to our character and heart.”
After four games in three days, Walker Valley will take the weekend off before traveling to Chattanooga Monday to face Boyd-Buchanan.
After GPS opened the game with its leadoff batter reaching on an error, a “strike ’em out, throw ’em out” double play by catcher AJ Chancey erased the threat.
The Bruisers got on the board in the top of the second with an infield hit to open the frame and a two-out triple by winning pitcher Madi Stanley. They added a second run on a passed ball before second baseman Hallie Davis made a shoe-top snag of a sinking liner to close the at bat.
GPS (2-0) tacked on another run in the top of the fifth inning when a walk, a stolen base and a single completed the circling of the bases, but the Lady Mustang defense was able to catch the second batter in a rundown between first and second to prevent any further base runners.
After the first 11 Lady Mustangs went down in order, Austin Peay signee Sidney Hooper picked up a two-out single in the fourth, but the first Walker Valley run didn’t come until the bottom of the fifth when Morgan cranked a one-out solo blast over the left field fence.
The girls from Chattanooga answered with “back-to-back jacks” by Bailey Davenport and Abbey Anderson to open the top of the sixth and push their lead to 5-1, but Walker Valley came charging back in its half of the frame.
After the first two batters ripped a pair of rocket shots that GPS snagged and turned into outs, Hooper drew Stanley’s only walk of the day and Mackenzie Elrod followed with a single to left. Rachel Percy then reached on an error to load the bases, setting the stage for Morgan’s heroics when she “went yard” for the second time for the grand slam to even the score.
The Bruisers answered immediately in the top of the seventh with a leadoff single by Stephanie George and a sacrifice bunt to move her to second and an error put runners on the corners. After a stolen base and a walk, loaded the bases, Anderson brought one run in on a ground out, while another scored a few minutes later on a very close play at the plate after a passed ball.
Walker Valley made one last effort in the bottom of the seventh when Davis alertly stretched an two-out single into a double, but was stranded there when Stanley recorded her 10th strikeout to close out the game.
GPS 020 012 2 — 7 8 1
Walker Valley 000 014 0 — 5 6 3
WP: Madi Stanley (1-0) 7 IP, 10 Ks, 1 BB, 6 hits, 1 ER. LP: Sidney Hooper (2-1) 7 IP, 4 Ks, 2 BB, 8 hits, 5 ER. HR: Bailey Davenport, Abbey Anderson (GPS); Bayleigh Morgan 2, (WV). 3B: Stanley (GPS). 2B: Hallie Davis (WV); RBI: Anderson 2, Stephanie George, Davenport, Stanley (GPS); Morgan 5 (WV). Highlights: George 2-3, RBI, r; T. Butler 2-4, r (GPS); Morgan 2-3, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 r; Hooper 1-2, BB, 1 r (WV). Records: GPS 2-0, Walker Valley 3-1.