MANCHESTER, Tenn. - The Region 3-AAA high school softball semifinal Monday at Coffee County turned out to be a game of inches. A few inches too high, that is, for Walker Valley.
Coffee County had two two-run innings, and in both a matter of inches loomed large as the Lady Raiders defeated the Lady Mustangs 4-1.
Coffee County (27-9) will host Soddy-Daisy (28-11) in Wednesday's region final at 8 p.m. EDT.
Walker Valley scored first, starting with a single from Alicia Raymond leading off the third inninb. After a wild pitch, she scored on a one-out double by Hallie Davis.
Coffee's Brittany Williams walked to start the bottom of the inning and Anna Spellings then laid down a sacrifice bunt. Catcher A.J. Chancey fielded it, but her throw to first was slightly high and sailed into the right-field corner. Not only did Williams score, but Spellings came all the way around.
"For us that was big," Coffee coach Terry Floyd said. "Anna got a great bunt down and I knew that was a pressure situation. They just had some miscues and Anna's a great baserunner. We seem to play better when we get a lead."
The other runs were in the fifth. After Ginny Clayborne was hit by a pitch, Lady Mustangs center fielder Baylee Boen looked as though she might track down Bethany Baker's deep drive. The ball hit Boen's glove inside the park, but when it popped out, it landed over the fence.
"I think when a team scores and you come back and score two quick ones, it's going to shift momentum," Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg said. "I'm really proud of the girls. They never gave up, basically. Even when they scored two more runs they still played hard, and that's all I can ask.
"It's been a priviledge and an honor to be their coach. We had a great season. It's tough to see it end here."
Winning pitcher Brianna Jones allowed eight hits and one walk and had 10 strikeouts.
Boen went 2-for-4 for Walker Valley, which ends its season 26-7.
Soddy-Daisy scored its runs within the first three innings, then held on and defeated Cookeville 4-3 in the other Region 3-AAA semifinal at Soddy-Daisy.
The Lady Cavaliers were down three and scored twice in the fourth. They got a leadoff double in the fifth and put two on in the seventh, but winning pitcher Ashley Chaney, who gave up seven hits, worked out of trouble.
"We didn't play good defensively," said Soddy-Daisy coach Wes Skiles, whose team made three errors. "But at this point and time of the year, it's all about the 'W.' We played well enough to win. Our defense was bad early, but we buckled down at the end and did what we were supposed to do."
Tori Denayer sparked the Lady Trojans offensively with two home runs and three RBIs.