Soddy-Daisy on Thursday made the race for the District 5-AAA high school softball regular-season championship a lot more interesting.
Walker Valley had been cruising along in first place alone with a two-game lead over its nearest competitors, but a loss Tuesday to Bradley Central coupled with the Lady Trojans' 6-2 victory at Soddy-Daisy has created a three-way tie atop the league standings in the loss column.
"Any loss in our district is big," Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said. "We just have to keep improving. We've got a long way to go."
East Hamilton now leads the district at 7-2. Soddy-Daisy (18-6) is 6-2 in the district, and Walker Valley (15-5) is 5-2. Ooltewah, which got off to a rough start in district play, is 6-3.
"In our district," Soddy-Daisy coach Wes Skiles said, "who's hot does not matter now, but in May."
The middle of the Lady Trojans' order was hot against the Lady Mustangs, beginning with No. 3-batter Haley Reynolds launching a solo home run in the bottom of the first inning. She ended up 3-for-3, including hitting the first of four consecutive RBI singles when the game was 2-2 in the sixth.
Batting right behind her, Grayson Brown went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. The next two batters, Savannah Moore and Shana Ward, each was 2-for-4 with Ward driving in two runs and Moore driving in one.
"We've got a powerful lineup when we get it together," Skiles said.
Meanwhile, winning pitcher Shonna Penney limited Walker Valley to four hits, although one was a homer by Hallie Davis leading off the sixth that tied it.
"She did a great job," Skiles said of Penney. "We knew Hallie Davis was a good hitter. That was good by her on that pitch. But it was good by Shonna to settle in on the next pitch and not worry about that one."
Davis was the only Lady Mustang with two hits. Emilee Spann had a double and an RBI walk -- the only walk Penney allowed to go with six strikeouts. She did hit Mackenzie Elrod twice.
"Their pitcher did a great job of keeping us off balance," Limburg said. "I don't want to take anything away from her. But I thought we had some really good at-bats. The ball just didn't fall for us."
Contact Kelley Smiddie at email@example.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.
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.