published Monday, May 12th, 2014

Lady Mustangs riding north for Region 3-AAA showdown

  • photo
    Walker Valley pitching staff is anchored by Alicia Raymond as the Lady Mustangs head into the Region 3-AAA semifinals today.
    Photo by John Rawlston.
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Today's TSSAA softball region-semifinal schedules involving local teams

All times EDT

2-A: Meigs County at Oliver Springs, 6

3-A: 6--Marion County vs. Arts & Sciences at Warner Park; 7--Silverdale Baptist Academy at Whitwell

3-AA: 5--Loudon at Central; 5:30--Hixson at Polk County

4-AA: 6--Upperman at Sequatchie County; 7--Bledsoe County at DeKalb County

3-AAA: 5--Rhea County at Soddy-Daisy; 7--Walker Valley at Cookeville

Local TSSAA softball all-district teams

5-A: Kayla Stiles, Copper Basin; Marisa McCalla, Abbie Sewell, Halie Williamson, Boyd-Buchanan; Summer Dean, Maddy Horton, Alexandria Smith, Grace Academy; Emily Harkleroad, Allison Meadows, Taylor Moran, Elise Pearson, Sloane Woodard, Silverdale Baptist Academy; Victorious Blanton, Jamani Greer, Brittany Patmon, Kiara Suttles, Brianna Taylor (MVP), Arts & Sciences.

6-A: Did not choose an all-district team

5-AA: Alyssa Burgess, Cheyenne Walker, Sweetwater; Jordan Babb, Lexi Harmon, Ivie Richesin, Loudon; Savannah Atkins, Lesleigh Bowers, Katlyn Cantrell, Haley Corbett, Kelcie Leamon, McMinn Central; Brady Jenkins, Hannah Lay, Haley Robbins, Lexy Whitmire, Madison Whitmire, Sequoyah; Emily Bates, Aubrie Bowman, Ashlyn Johnson, Felecia Johnson, Briana Muller, Katelyn Williams, Hannah Triplett (POY).

6-AA: Remetrice Graham, Dynesha Tucker, Brainerd; Makayla Haywood, Ja'Mesia Parks, Tyner; Alexis Moore, Tatyana Najeeullah, Holly Wilson, East Ridge; Jessica Green, Charlie Jeffries, Ciera Taylor, Hixson; Autumn Babb, Mackenzie Cagle, Allison Walker, Briana Whitlock, Red Bank; Chasidy Ainslie, Brooke Parrott, Britney Sylvester, Ally Welch, Central.

7-AA: Cassidy McCarter, Kelsey McGowan, Signal Mountain; Ashley Brown, Megan Syder, Judith Roberson, Victoria Roberson, Bledsoe County; Madison Burrows, MaKayla Nunley, Madison Rogers, Torie Scissom, Harley Davis (co-POY) Grundy County; Allyson Davenport, Ashley Moffitt, Madi Presto, Emily Yell, Katelynne Cheatham (co-POY), Sequatchie County. Coach of the Year: Kelly Somerville, Sequatchie County.

5-AAA: Lauren Lee, Cleveland; Emmaly Morgan, Bradley Central; Lexie Axley, McMinn County; Allie Jones, Ooltewah; Hallie Davis, Alicia Raymond; Grayson Brown, Shonna Penney, Haley Reynolds, Soddy-Daisy; Savannah Daniel, Rachel Gamble, Brie Levy, Kelsey Payne, East Hamilton.

Other local selections

3-A: Morgan Boggess, Taylor Boggess, Angel Davis, Chloe Grayson, Madison Hampton, Meigs County.

6-AAA: Haley Galvan, Sarah Beth Mitchell (second team), Ansley Hill, Ashton Hill, Amy Lewis (first team), Delaney Smith, (defensive POY), Rhea County.

Walker Valley's softball team is in a familiar position this time of year. But instead of heading west, the Lady Mustangs will be heading north.

Walker Valley has been fortunate enough the last three seasons as a district finalist to extend its season beyond the first level of postseason play. But for a third consecutive year it ended up runner-up to Soddy-Daisy.

TSSAA region semifinals are set to take place today statewide and again the Lady Mustangs must hit the road for theirs. Walker Valley (33-14) is scheduled to play at District 6-champion Cookeville at 7 p.m. EDT in Region 3-AAA.

The previous two years the Lady Mustangs have had to travel to Manchester to take on Coffee County in a region semifinal. The results were a 2-0 loss in 2012 and a 4-1 loss last year.

Walker Valley is led offensively by junior second baseman Hallie Davis, who is batting .490. She remembers the pain of those season-ending losses.

"This time around I feel like we've got a great chance," Davis said. "Our team has grown. We're like a family. We're closer than we've ever have been. I like our chances. We just have to keep our head in the game. Everybody gets off track sometimes. Everybody has to work on the little things."

Davis, who doubled in both losses to the Lady Raiders and this year is tied for the team lead in doubles with 12, had been Walker Valley's leadoff batter the last two years. Coach Lauren Limburg moved her to the No. 3 spot this season and she still managed to lead the team with 45 runs scored while flourishing in other ways in her new role.

"My bat has gotten stronger," said Davis, who has team-highs of 16 home runs and 44 RBIs. "My goal still is just to get on. That really hasn't changed. My mindset is still the same."

The Lady Mustangs' pitcher in those trips to Manchester was Sidney Hooper, who now plays at Austin Peay. This year's staff is anchored by junior right-hander Alicia Raymond (25-11), who played left field at Coffee County in last May's game and singled and scored the run on Davis's double.

Raymond can be classified as a strike-thrower, illustrated by her allowing 27 walks to the opposition in her 204 innings pitched. But her 90 strikeouts means the ball is often put in play, and that's where she needs assistance.

"Defensively we need to play our game," Raymond said. "Our defense is stout. I'm really lucky to have them backing me up."

She could also use more offensive support than Hooper got, but she believes in her teammates in that area, too.

"I think we have a great lineup," Raymond said. "We just need to do what we're supposed to do. We need to get our leadoff runners on, then try not to do too much; get them around, get them in. We need to try to get hits and not home runs."

This season has been an up-and-down one for Walker Valley, but mostly up. Injuries have often played a key role in the down times.

Davis and Raymond, along with fellow starters Emilee Spann and A.J. Chancey, have missed time with injuries, as have a couple of reserves. Senior center fielder Baylee Boen played through an ankle injury in the district tournament.

"The consistent thing has been that these girls are just fighters," Limburg said. "If one person goes down, other people have to step up. Everybody has to give more. We're a team. This is not an individual sport. Thankfully there are others there to pick up the slack when something happens. That's what families and teams do."

Health doesn't seem to be an issue now. And as far as the region semifinals being a stumbling block lately, Walker Valley's players are mindful that this is a different year, with a different opponent, and a different location.

For the record, Coffee County remains in the same classification, but was moved to District 8 when the state organization reclassified after last school year. The Lady Mustangs could run into the Lady Raiders at the state-sectional level where winners advance to the state tournament. But the Lady Cavaliers are their only focus right now.

"Any team that's made it this far and won their district is a quality team," Limburg said. "We want to do our best and just go win. It doesn't matter to me, and I don't think it matters to the girls, who we play. We just want to go complete that goal, regardless of who the other team is."

Contact Kelley Smiddie at ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6653. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/KelleySmiddie.

about Kelley Smiddie...

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 ksmiddie@timesfreepress.com.

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