As the temperatures cooled off, the Walker Valley bats and senior hurler Alicia Raymond heated up for an impressive District 5-AAA opening victory Wednesday evening at Larry Haney Field.
Facing an East Hamilton team that has been to the last two TSSAA state tournaments and blasted new coach Norma Nelson’s former Ooltewah team 10-4 Tuesday, Raymond fired a two-hit shutout and the Lady Mustang bats posted double-digit hits for the second straight game in an 8-0 statement victory.
“East Hamilton is an excellent team, and for us to come out and get a win like this in our district opener is great,” Walker Valley head coach Lauren Limburg said of her “feisty fillies.” “Everybody up and down the lineup did their job. We played solid defense, with two double plays, plus Alicia, who has been fighting through injuries and working hard on her rehab, pitched a great game.”
With a pair of wins under their belts, the Lady Mustangs (2-0, 1-0 District 5-AAA) will travel across the county this afternoon to face rival Bradley Central (1-0, 1-0), which defeated Cleveland High 5-4 in 10 innings Tuesday. First pitch as Bob McKenzie Field is at 5 p.m.
After a little bit of a rough three-inning relief outing before getting the pitching victory over Rhea County Tuesday, Raymond (2-0) came back strong Wednesday, allowing just a third-inning infield single that bounced off the third base bag and a solid leadoff hit to open the sixth frame for the Lady Hurricanes (1-1, 1-1).
With a strikeout to start the game, Raymond only allowed three balls to leave the infield, two of which were caught by center fielder Baylee Boen. Raymond didn’t walk any East Hamilton batters and gave up just one free pass when she hit the third batter of the game.
“Alicia had good control of her pitches today. She had good movement and was very efficient,” assessed Coach Limberg. Raymond had one stretch where she sat down eight batters in a row, plus faced the minimum in the final four frames. She threw just four pitches to get three outs in the fourth inning and needed just five to do the same in the sixth.
Despite a light, cold rain, Raymond’s shutout was aided by double plays in both of the last two innings after the Lady Hurricanes had gotten the leadoff batter aboard.
After a single to open the sixth, Walker Valley got the first out on a fielder’s choice, on which the throw to first was a little late to get the twin killing. However, the next batter hit the ball to Lady Mustang second baseman Hallie Davis, who tagged the base runner and then threw to first to end the inning.
In the game’s final at bat, an East Hamilton player reached on an error but was erased on a 6-4-3 double play before the final batter popped out to shortstop Rachel Percy.
The main thrust of the Lady Mustang offense came in the bottom of the third inning, when they broke open the scoreless contest with a seven-run rally.
Junior Carly Frost and Boen opened the at bat with back-to-back singles, before consecutive Lady Hurricane errors allowed three runs to cross home plate. Junior AJ Chancey kept the rally going with a single, before Mackenzie Elrod laid down a bunt and the throw to the plate to try to get Davis (who had reached on an error) was too late.
After the seventh batter made the first out, sophomore Emilee Spann ripped a two-run double to get the merry-go-round started again and then she scored the final run when junior Lara Bean laced a single to right field. After another out, Boen roped her second hit of the frame with a double down the left-field line to put runners at second and third, but a strikeout prevented any further damage to be done.
Walker Valley tacked on a solo run when Raymond led off the bottom of the fifth with a single and Spann followed with the last of her three hits in the contest. Courtesy runner Sydney Venture (for Raymond) and Spann moved up to second and third on a groundout to the right side of the infield. Frost plated Ventura with the final run when she lifted a sacrifice fly to left field.
Spann led the 10-hit attack by going 3-for-3, with her double and two runs batted in. Boen added a pair of hits, including a two-bagger, while Davis roped a double, reached on an error and scored a run.
Frost, Raymond, Chancey and Bean had the other Walker Valley hits. In their two victories, the Lady Mustangs have pounded out 24 hits and 14 runs.
East Hamilton 000 000 0 — 0 2 3
Walker Valley 007 010 x — 8 10 2
WP: Alicia Raymond (2-0) 7 IP, 1 K, 1 HBP, 2 hits, 0 ER; LP: Shelby Duggard 2.1 IP, 1 K, 0 BB, 6 hits,0 ER. 2B: Halle Davis, Emilee Spann, Baylee Boen (WV); RBI: Spann 2, Lara Bean, Mackenzie Elrod, Carly Frost (WV). Highlights: Spann 3-3, 2B, 2 RBI, run; Boen 2-4, 2B, run; Davis 1-3, 2B, reached on an error, run; Frost 1-2 run (WV). Records: East Hamilton 1-1, 1-1 District 5-AAA; Walker Valley 2-0, 1-0 District 5-AAA.