CLEVELAND, Tenn. — From the first to last pitch an energized Walker Valley softball dugout cheered at full force. The results on Larry Haney Field were quite the same for the home team in a battle of 2018 state runners-up.
Walker Valley fought to a 10-4 victory over Girls Preparatory School despite each side finishing with eight hits and two home runs.
"I am proud of our girls for coming out and fighting," winning coach Lauren Limburg said. "We came out and played our best game. If we hold ourselves to that standard, it will help us be successful."
While injuries to senior standouts Abbey Davis and Riley Suits could have dampened the Lady Mustangs' team morale before the season, the two vital parts in last year's Class AAA state-tournament run have continued to provide a charge.
With Suits cheering her on and leading chants in the dugout, senior catcher Hannah Kate Singleton broke a 1-1 tie in a big way in the bottom of the third inning. After a run scored on a wild pitch, the 2018 designated hitter smacked a towering three-run shot over the left-center-field fence for a 5-1 lead.
"Our team is always supportive of one another," Singleton said. "Even though Riley hasn't been able to play and catch, she has had my back and I have hers. I want to succeed for her and the team as a whole. I've had big shoes to fill, so I go up there and just try to do my best."
A loaded junior class of talent helped stretch the lead even further for Walker Valley (18-7-1) as Carissa Frost and Katelyn Howell each drove in two runs and highlighted a four-run fifth inning for a 9-2 lead.
Laney Harris was a force in multiple ways. The junior shortstop recorded 10 putouts or assists and went 3-for-4 with two doubles and a home run.
Harris finished a 16-pitch battle against GPS ace Hannah Sanders, pitching in relief, with a line-drive home run halfway up the pine trees behind the left-field fence.
"Laney is a great player," Limburg said of her No. 3 batter who is batting .493 with 13 doubles, three homers and 27 RBIs this season. "She made great plays, and her (long) at-bat was super impressive. She never gives up. She takes extra swings after practice all the time with a lot of our girls."
Sydney Everett threw a complete game for the Lady Mustangs, who are the District 5-AAA team to beat this year with a perfect record in league play.
Elizabeth Warwick and Sanders launched solo home runs in the final two innings for the Bruisers (10-4). Warwick also had an RBI double.
Contact Patrick MacCoon at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @PMacCoon.