Walker Valley first baseman MacKenzie Elrod provided the lion’s share of support for Hooper with two doubles and perfect 3 for 3 night at the plate.
“The girls really stepped up. MacKenzie really stepped up. She went 3 for 3 and everybody stepped up and did their part. That is what a team effort is all about and I am really proud of their effort,” said a pleased Lady Mustangs coach Lauren Limburg.
The Lady Raiders 8-9, 0-6 5-AAA) gave up three unearned runs to the Lady Mustangs (11-2, 3-1) in the first two innings before settling down in the field behind Yoshi Hooks who took the loss for Cleveland.
“I think we handed them that game. The first three runs were unearned. We started off on a bad note,” said Lady Raiders coach Connie Stobert. “We brought it together at the end. We minimized errors and the defense was solid after the first couple of innings. The offense and defense have to come together. It just didn’t. It didn’t start happening until the sixth inning and that is too late, especially with the runs we gave them.”
Hooks gave up seven hits to the Lady Mustangs and struck out six before being relieved by Carly Frost with nobody out in the bottom of the sixth. Hooper went the distance for Walker Valley, fanning four and allowing six hits.
After taking a 1-0 lead in the first, Elrod smacked the first of her double deuces off the left-center field fence and later scored on a passed ball to make it 3-0.
Elrod came through once again in the top half of the fourth with a double to left-center field. Allie Morrow stepped up next and scored Elrod with a triple to center. A Rachel Percy sacrifice fly scored Morrow to give the Lady Mustangs a 5-0 lead.
The Lady Raiders got on the scoreboard and broke up the shutout with a run in the bottom of the fifth on singles by Nanea Haruo and Karli Davis.
Walker Valley got the run back in the upper portion of the sixth with an unearned run to go up 6-1.
“Cleveland is a great team. They showed a lot of heart and a lot of fight. I told our girls we had to keep fighting every out, every play. We have to keep fighting. That is how you win ballgames. You fight every out, every pitch, every play. I was proud of our girls for continuing to fight.”
Cleveland came back with bottom-of-the-inning singles by Hannah Holland and Brittany Arnold to cut it to 6-2.
The Lady Raiders added one more in the final frame when Haruo picked up her second hit of the game and later scored on a Mikaela Clements single to make the final score 6-3.
“They are still young and they are still learning. There are a lot of things they have to learn. I think they are doing pretty well for the year we came off last year,” said Stobert. “We were at .500 before today at 8-8. That is really good for us. We still have a lot of softball to go. I think we can beat the rest of the teams on our schedule. I think we can win. It’s going to take a lot, but I think we can do it. I think there is potential there. There is no reason why we should have lost this game, none whatsoever.”
LADY MUSTANGS 6, LADY RAIDERS 3
Walker Valley 120 201 0 — 6 7 2
Cleveland 000 011 1 — 3 6 4
WP: Sidney Hooper. LP: Yoshi Hooks. 3B: Allie Morrow (WV). 2B: MacKenzie Elrod (2) (WV). Highlights: Elrod 3-3; Hallie Davis 2-4 (WV). Nanea Haruo 2-3, Karli Davis 2-3 (C). Records: Walker Valley 11-2, 3-1 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 8-9, 0-6.