CLEVELAND, Tenn. — In a way, it didn’t take long Wednesday to decide the No. 1 seeding for the District 5-AAA high school softball tournament. But in a way, it did.
Thanks to the work by both pitchers, Soddy-Daisy’s 1-0 victory over host Walker Valley took a matter of minutes to play. However, the run, on Savannah Moore’s two-out single, didn’t come about until the seventh inning.
“We need some of those,” Soddy-Daisy coach Clifford Kirk said knowing postseason starts this weekend. “I’ve been here before. I don’t know if many of these kids have. These are the kind of games you need to get you ready, as long as you can come back and win.”
The Lady Trojans didn’t need a comeback because pitcher Kelsey Nunley was near untouchable. She did not allow a hit or a walk through six innings, although she hit two batters.
“It was nothing other than you’ve got to step it. It’s time to go,” said Kirk, whose team would’ve been co-champion of the district regular season had it lost, but No. 2-seeded in the tournament. “We had to go over a few things that we may not have been doing well, but mainly she hit her spots pretty well today.”
The last of Nunley’s 12 strikeouts ended it, but it was the first out in the bottom of the seventh inning that proved to be monumental. The only hit for Walker Valley (20-9, 8-3) came off the bat of opposing pitcher Sidney Hooper and started the Lady Mustangs’ half of the seventh.
Hooper hit a high drive to the fence in right and seemed content with a double until she saw the relay throw was bobbled. She then continued on to third.
Hooper slid and she and the ball coming to third baseman Mariam Wood arrived about the same time. Hooper was called safe initially, but her foot ended up coming off the bag.
“She was safe, but when she went to tag her it kind of pushed her off the base,” said Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg, who was in the third-base coach’s box when it happened. “It was just a tough play. I couldn’t really see, but it did look like her foot may have come off. I applaud her for being aggressive.”
Hooper matched Nunley’s efficiency until Soddy-Daisy (32-6, 11-1) put together three singles in the seventh. Hooper was perfect through five innings, then gave up Brittany Lanham’s one-out single in the sixth. Her three strikeouts paled compared to Nunley’s total, but she registered 12 groundouts.
“Her ball looked like it had a lot of movement,” Kirk said. “We actually hit a lot of outside pitches and tried to pull some of them. That’s why we hit so many on the ground. Once we got a few good pitches and hit them, then we had a different story.”
Kelley Smiddie is a sports writer who has worked at the Times Free Press for 12 years. He covers high school sports and softball. Kelley’s hometown is Chattanooga, and he graduated from Brainerd High School and graduated Chattanooga State and UTC. Contact Kelley at 423-757-6653 or email@example.com.