SODDY-DAISY 8, RIVERDALE 0
Riverdale 000 000 0 -- 0 2 6
Soddy-Daisy 000 800 x -- 8 7 0
WP: Kelsey Nunley (25-2), 12 Ks. LP: Rachel Albritton (26-6), 8 Ks. 3B: Katie Brown (R). 2B: Tori Denayer (SD). Other highlights: Denayer 2-3, run; Olivia Williams 1B, 2 RBIs, run, SB; Morgan Bailey 1B, 2 RBIs (SD). Records: Soddy-Daisy 33-3; Riverdale 37-8.
Riverdale's softball team made the 100-mile trip eastward from Murfreesboro on Sunday to play at Soddy-Daisy. Then about halfway through the game, things went south for the Lady Warriors in a hurry.
The game's only runs were scored in the bottom of the fourth inning, but it was a rally in which 12 Lady Trojans batted. That proved to be more than enough for Kentucky signee Kelsey Nunley, who threw a two-hitter in Soddy-Daisy's 8-0 victory.
Despite the whipping his team took from a fellow Class AAA power, Riverdale coach Jeff Breeden said he hopes more regular-season games can be scheduled between the two in the future. Respect between the programs is mutual.
"I enjoy playing against them," Soddy-Daisy coach Clifford Kirk said. "These are the kinds of matchups you can enjoy. We're usually meeting up in the state tournament or in a sectional where the loser goes home. After this one, you live to play another day."
Savannah Moore got the scoring outburst started by grounding a single to left field. But what happened next, and what happened when the next three Lady Trojans after that batted, was Riverdale's own undoing.
Errors on four consecutive plays set the stage for Soddy-Daisy (33-3), which had five of its seven hits off losing pitcher Rachel Albritton in the inning. Morgan Bailey and Olivia Williams each hit a two-run single.
"It started out with an error or two in the beginning, then we just hit the ball after that," Kirk said.
Riverdale (37-8) ended up making five of its six errors in the fourth. All the runs off Albritton (26-6), who has signed with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, were unearned. She had eight strikeouts and did not allow a walk.
"I guess we just fell asleep and decided not to play any defense that inning," Riverdale coach Jeff Breeden said. "When you make five errors you're not going to have much success against a good team."
Nunley (25-2) didn't issue a walk either, but she hit three batters in the first inning. Kirk said the right-hander's pitches that made contact were not screwballs, just pitches inside meant to back batters off the plate.
"I think it was just nerves that kind of got to me," said Nunley, who settled down and registered 12 strikeouts on the way to her 100th career pitching win at Soddy-Daisy to go with 13 losses. "I came in a little too pumped because it was such a big rivalry game."
Kirk couldn't help but be pleased by Nunley's effort, but didn't even rate it as high as last weekend's performance against defending Division II-AA champion Baylor in the Gold championship game of Ooltewah's Choo Choo Lady Owls Classic. She's the team's only senior and will make her final regular-season home start today in a District 5 game against Bradley Central.
"She just doesn't want to give up any runs at all," Kirk said of Nunley, who gave up Kristin Uselton's one-out single in the fourth and Katie Brown's two-out triple in the fifth. "That's the way she is."
Soddy-Daisy's Tori Denayer had a double and single, but neither in the big inning. She was one of the ones in the fourth to reach on an error, which allowed two runs to score, and she later came around to score.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.