Walker Valley used the long ball, as well as small ball, to gain the advantage over Ooltewah before having to hold on for dear life in a 7-6 District 5-AAA softball win over the Lady Owls Wednesday at Larry Haney Field.
MacKenzie Elrod, Carly Frost and Hallie Davis all unloaded Senior Night home runs for Walker Valley, which held a 7-0 lead headed into the top of the seventh inning. The Lady Owls opened up to push the Lady Mustangs against the fence before Raymond and Company finally put a stop to the uprising with the potential winning run on second base.
Raymond held Ooltewah hitless until the top of the sixth when the Lady Owls picked up a trio of safeties before exploding for five hits in the seventh.
The victory for the Lady Mustangs (27-12, 8-4 District 5-AAA) puts them in a tie for first with the Lady Owls (26-8, 8-4) in the 5-AAA standings with the tournament set to begin May 2 at Cleveland High School.
“It was a huge win. I’m really proud of our girls. I’m really proud of them for continuing to fight. I would have liked for it to end a little differently but we will definitely take the win. I’m glad they could get it on Senior Night. They fought hard and stayed up the whole game,” said Lady Mustangs coach Lauren Limburg.
After a scoreless first inning, Walker Valley catcher A.J. Chancey led off the bottom of the second with a single to left field and found her way to third after a sacrifice by Raymond and a wild pitch. First baseman Elrod, batting with two outs, fouled off a half-dozen pitches before parking a shot over the left-field fence to put the Lady Mustangs out front 2-0.
Frost led off the lower half of the third with a lead-off blast that sailed over the chain link in right center that gave Walker Valley a 3-0 advantage.
The Lady Mustangs took a breather in the fourth before adding another two runs in the fifth.
Center fielder Baylee Boen worked the Lady Owls for a one-out walk. Boen trotted home when Davis let loose with a two-out cannon shot that cleared the road behind the left-center field fence and put the Lady Mustangs on top 5-0.
Walker Valley switched to small ball mode in the bottom of the sixth, starting with a Raymond single to center. After an Ooltewah error put courtesy runner Sydney Ventura on third, Elrod laid down a perfect suicide squeeze bunt that scored the charging Ventura and put Madison Russo, the benefactor of the earlier miscue, on third. Russo made it a 7-0 game on a fielder’s choice.
“I just want hits. However those hits come, we will take it. I’m extremely proud of the girls who hit the home runs and of the girls for making a lot of great contact. That’s all I can ask as a coach, that we hit good pitches and make solid contact,” said Limburg of the offensive output by the Lady Mustangs.
But, the Lady Owls were not ready to concede the loss. Five Ooltewah hits combined with a string of Walker Valley errors made for an interesting finish for the Lady Mustangs.
Shelby Sutton smacked a two-RBI triple to keep the Lady Owls alive. A third run crossed the plate on the third Walker Valley miscue of the inning. Four consecutive singles plated another three Ooltewah runs before Raymond got a fly to center to get the win for the Lady Mustangs.
“We just have to be careful of that one inning, not letting a team back in the game. Ooltewah, you have to give them credit. They fought hard, they never gave up. They could have easily given up but they didn’t, and that shows the mark of a great team,” said Limburg.
“I’m proud of these seniors going out with the win. They have poured their heart and soul into this program for four years. They are a huge part of our success. I’m just proud they could win here tonight.”
LADY MUSTANGS 7, LADY OWLS 6
Ooltewah 000 000 6 — 6 8 2
Walker Valley 021 022 x — 7 8 3
WP: Alicia Raymond. LP: Monica Thompson. HR: MacKenzie Elrod, Carly Frost, Hallie Davis (WV). 3B: Shelby Sutton (O). Highlights: Allie Jones 2-4, Summer Williams 2-4 (O); Elrod 2-4 WV). Records: Ooltewah 26-8, 8-4 5-AAA; Walker Valley 27-12, 8-4.