One swing of Sarah Moore's bat was all that separated Baylor from Central in their high school softball game Tuesday.
Moore's home run with two out in the bottom of the third inning lifted the Lady Red Raiders to a 2-0 home win in their season debut.
For the second consecutive year the state-tournament teams from a year ago -- Baylor winning Divsion II-AA -- played an early-season, low-scoring game won by the Lady Raiders.
"It was an old-fashioned softball game," Baylor coach Kelli Smith said. "You believed the winner was going to be the team that executed, the team that got the big hit. We were fortunate."
Neither team made an error. There were no passed balls and no wild pitches. Central's Shelby Willard allowed the only walk, which freshman Maya Mathis worked with a full count and one out in the third inning to become Baylor's first baserunner.
Precious Birdsong followed by executing a sacrifice bunt, and Mathis went all the way to third base on the play. She then cruised home from there when Moore sent a 3-1 pitch over the fence in center.
With plenty of season left, Central coach LeeAnne Shurette said her team will address how to handle the bunt situation better. The home run made the extra base insignificant, but Shurette said if an out was recorded on the play, Moore may not have batted that inning.
"That was on us to make the play, but I don't want to take anything away from them," Shurette said. "The girl stepped up and did what she was supposed to do."
Lady Red Raiders pitcher Kaitie Sims did the rest, baffling a Class AA offense that scored eight runs in defeating Class AAA Walker Valley on Monday. The Lady Pounders managed four hits off Sims in the first three innings, but she then retired 12 consecutive batters. Britney Sylvester had two of the five hits allowed by Moore, who struck out five.
"I can't brag enough on Kaitie Sims," Smith said. "She has worked extremely hard in the offseason and gotten stronger. She had great command of her pitches today. She had some big strikeouts in certain situations. Even defensively she played her position well. What a great start to her senior season to have a game like this."
Willard had four strikeouts and limited the Lady Raiders to four hits.
"She pitched well enough for us to win," Shurette said. "We needed to make some adjustments. I think we need to take things in our own hands. We were thinking too much at the plate. I just think we could've taken advantage of some good pitches we saw. The ones we swung at weren't as great as we would've liked."
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.