Walker Valley’s Lady Mustangs took care of season-ending business Thursday afternoon, defeating homestanding Cleveland, 16-2. The win nailed down the No. 2 seed for this weekend’s District 5-AAA softball tournament at McMinn County.
The tournament begins today with Walker Valley playing Bradley Central in a 10 a.m. home game to kick off the double-elimination tournament.
Cleveland also begins postseason play today, the Lady Raiders traveling to No. 3 seeded Ooltewah for a 6 p.m. game. Today’s third and final first-round game (at 5 p.m.) will have Rhea County playing at McMinn County. No. 1 seed Soddy-Daisy has a first-round bye.
Walker Valley is playing its game this morning because tonight is prom night for the Lady Mustangs’ seniors.
The 5-AAA tournament will continue Saturday with five games, beginning at 11 a.m. on the McMinn County High School field. Admission to each session is $5. Competition will continue Monday.
Walker Valley was forced to defeat Cleveland Thursday for the No. 2 seed. A loss would have dropped the Lady Mustangs to No. 3 behind Ooltewah.
The Lady Mustangs were up to the task.
“We didn’t play as well as we did Wednesday (against Soddy-Daisy), but its hard to come back after a tough loss like that,” said Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg. “Still, we played well and I’m proud of the girls. It was a real team effort.”
Cleveland was competitive through the five innings Thursday, despite a dismal first inning. The Lady Raiders gave up three early runs on only one single as Walker Valley received a number of gifts — four walks and a hit batter.
The damage could have been worse, but Yoshi Hooks came on in relief and got her team out of a jam with a strikeout and a second-to-first force.
Walker Valley increased its lead to 4-0 in the third on a hit batter and double by Morgan Elrod. The Lady Mustangs added a fifth run in the fourth inning on a double by Baylee Boen and a single from senior Kayla Sewell.
Cleveland then staged a mild rally of its own. Mikaela Clements got hold of a pitch in the bottom of the fourth that cleared the fence in left to cut Walker Valley’s lead to 5-1. The Lady Raiders scored a second run in the fifth on consecutive singles by Hooks, Jacora Parker and Taylor Yoder, and trailed Walker Valley by only a 5-2 count going to the top of the sixth inning.
Then, the roof fell in on the Lady Raiders.
The Lady Mustangs got two runs in the sixth on a double by winning pitcher Sidney Hooper, another RBI single by Sewell and a single by Leslie Still.
Cleveland went down in order to Walker Valley relief pitcher Lauren Lawson in the bottom of the sixth ... and then came an ill-fated seventh for the Lady Raiders.
Lawson led off with a strikeout, but Walker Valley then bombarded Cleveland with nine additional runs. Cleveland committed two errors to contribute to the onslaught, but Walker Valley piled up eight hits in the inning with two home runs.
Rachel Percy began the avalanche with a single, and then came in to score on Laurel Allen’s long home run over the left-field fence.
Boen added a single, Hooper got a single and Sewell slammed a two-run home run to center. Reserves Tori Barham and Alex Rominger continued the hitting parade with singles, and Percy came up with her second single of the inning.
Trailing 16-2, the fire went out for the Lady Raiders as they went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
Walker Valley had a number of hitting heroes, banging out a total of 17 hits. Two seniors playing their final regular-season game in their Lady Mustang uniforms did most of the damage. Sewell had a home run and three singles for five runs batted in. Allen added her long home run and a single.
Boen, Walker Valley’s designated hitter, had a double and two singles, Hooper had a double and a single, Percy had two singles and Morgan Elrod had a double. Leslie Still, Barham and Rominger also had singles.
Clements’ home run was the biggest blow for the Lady Raiders, and she added a single. Hooks got two singles and Bledsoe and Parker added single shots.
LADY MUSTANGS 16, LADY RAIDERS 2
Walker Valley 301 102 9 — 16 17 0
Cleveland 000 110 0 — 2 6 2
Records: Walker Valley 21-9, 9-3 5-AAA; Cleveland 5-21,