If Tuesday's opener is any indication of the season awaiting the Walker Valley softball team, it could be a long year for everyone else. The Lady Mustangs looked to be in midseason form more than a …
The Feisty Fillies (1-0) got a perfect game from junior pitcher Natalie Pruitt — in her first official appearance in the circle — and a two-run home run from senior first baseman Kaylee Hughes — in her first official at bat of the season — in a 10-0, run-rule non-district softball victory against Kingston (0-1) at Larry Haney Field.
"I thought the girls really came out and played well from the first pitch," said Lady Mustangs coach Lauren Limberg. "We've been talking about being consistent. We went down to the beach (in Gulf Shores, Ala., for the Gulf Shores Classic) and kind of had some inconsistency, but, today they brought the fight and the fire from the first pitch, and I was really proud of that."
Pruitt easily went the distance for the Lady Mustangs, striking out 10 of the 15 Yellowjackets she faced. No potential Kingston hitter reached base as the Walker Valley defense was perfect on all five playable hits to the infield.
"We got a perfect game. I am really proud of Natalie. She works hard. They all do. Natalie worked hard and the team did a great job of backing her up," said Limberg. "I was proud of our communication on the field as well. Hannah Kate stepped up at the catcher spot and was really communicating. It was an overall team effort. We got some solid hits, and the dugout was loud and supported the team throughout the game."
Hughes finished a perfect 3 of 3 at the plate with a 2 RBI double and an RBI single to go with the two-run homer.
"Kaylee did a really good job. She works so hard on her hitting and all those extra swings pay off. I've been really proud of how she has come out this season. She is swinging at good pitches and making solid contact," praised the Walker Valley coach.
Carissa Frost opened the bottom of the first with a walk before Hughes lifted a shot that settled in the top of a decorative evergreen tree behind the left-center field fence.
The Lady Mustangs took a 7-0 lead in the bottom half of the second. Allie Geren reached on a bunt single behind a Katelyn Howell walk. Hailey Leslie reached on a Kingston error to load the bases. The Yellowjackets held off the Mustang for two outs before back-to-back RBI singles from Michelel Benson and Laney Harris made it a 6-0 game. Hughes made it 7-0 with a double to the fence in right-center.
After sitting the Yellowjackets down in order in the top of the fourth, Walker Valley got a little help from Kingston pitching with a pair of walks that helped load the bases. After reaching on a fielder's choice, Frost raced home on a wild pitch. Benson, who earned a walk, scored on a Hughes single. Hannah Kate Singleton helped put the final run on the board for the Lady Mustangs with a sacrifice fly to center field that scored Harris to seal the 10-0 win.
The Lady Mustangs open District 5-AAA competition this afternoon in Athens against McMinn County.
"We've got McMinn tomorrow and Rhea County Thursday. It's just one game at a time. The girls know this was a great win and we will celebrate tonight. Kingston is a great opponent, they went to the state tournament last year. But, tomorrow it will be McMinn."
Kingston 000 00 — 0 0 1
WalkerValley 250 3x — 10 6 0
WP Natalie Pruitt 1-0, 10 K's. LP: Keylan Keynole. HR: Kaylee Hughes (WV). 2B: Hughes (WV). Highlights: Hughes 3-3 6 RBIs, Michele Benson RBI, Laney Harris RBI, Hannah Kate Singleton RBI. Records: Kingston 0-1; Walker Valley 1-0.
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