MCMINNVILLE — Walker Valley extended its softball season by at least two games Monday, defeating a very good Warren County team 10-3 in the Region 3-3A semifinal in McMinnville.The Lady Pioneers, …
The Lady Pioneers, hosting their first region game in 34 years, scored a lone run in the bottom of the first inning to take a 1-0 lead. From there, it was all Lady Mustangs. Walker Valley scored two in the fourth, three in the fifth, five more in the sixth and played stellar defense to shut down a Warren County team that banged out an even dozen hits against winning pitcher Natalie Pruitt.
Warren County (19-7) manufactured two more in the last of the seventh with a short lived rally.
The "Feisty Fillies" (30-8) will make an appearance in their first Region 3 championship since 2015 at Ooltewah against the same Lady Owls (34-6) team that won a 6-1 decision over Walker Valley in the District 5 championship. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m., weather permitting. The Lady Mustangs will have a shot at a state berth in sectional softball Friday with the opponent and location determined by Wednesday's outcome.
“I just could not be prouder of this team. We got down early and they just never gave up. I knew every single person was committed to doing their job. I just can't say enough about their heart and their fight. They believe in each other. I'm just so proud of them,” said Lady Mustangs head coach Lauren Limburg, still excited after the victory.
The Walker Valley lefty went the distance, earning her 22nd win of the season against only four losses striking out two batters and walking three. The Lady Mustangs picked up eight hits against three Lady Pioneer pitchers.
Warren County outscored Cookeville and Rhea County 59-25 in the District 4 tournament before being held to only three runs Monday in the region semi.
“Natalie pitched wonderfully against a great-hitting team that scored 17 runs their last game,” praised the Feisty Fillies' coach.
Laney Harris and Kaylee Hughes got it started for the Lady Mustangs in the two of the fourth innings with back-to-back singles. Katlyn Howell's sacrifice fly scored Harris and Riley Suits made it a 2-0 game with an RBI single to left field.
Miranda Young led off the top half of the fifth with a walk and later scored on a Harris sac fly to center. Carissa Frost reached base on a Pioneers' error and Michelle Benson trotted to first with a base on balls. Both runners moved up on the Harris sac and scored on a wild pitch that turned into a pair of Warren County errors.
The Lady Mustangs broke the game open in the top of the sixth, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring five runs. Katelyn Howell worked Warren County pitching for a walk. Suits, Young, Frost and Hughes all had hits for Walker Valley. The hits by Young and Frost scored lone runs while the Hughes single to center brought two runs across the plate. Harris and Howell were hit by pitches with Harris earning an RBI on the HBP. When the melee cleared, the Lady Mustangs held a 10-1 lead.
The Lady Pioneers refused to go down without a fight, loading the bases with two outs. A potential big inning was squashed when Walker Valley left fielder Frost made a brilliant catch on a hard-hit ball while running to her left to chase down the potential base clearing hit to end the inning. Frost also got the third out on a perfect throw to the plate to end another potential big inning in the fourth. Lady Mustangs shortstop Laney Harris ended the inning for the Lady Pioneers with a double play in the third.
“We have such a great defense. We make plays that amaze me. They are very solid defensively. We made some stellar defensive plays,” said Limburg. “They play so tough. They give their bodies and have confidence in each other.”
The Pioneers pushed a pair of run across in their final at bat, scoring on three straight hits with two outs. A ground ball to Young at third ended the mini rally and capped the 10-3 win.
LADY MUSTANGS 10, LADY PIONEERS 3
Walker Valley;;000 235 0 — 10 8 3
Warren County;;100 000 2 — 3 12 4
WP: Natalie Pruitt (22-4) LP: Rhealee Johnson. 3B: Haley Wood (WC). Highlights: Carissa Frost 2-4, Laney Harris 1-2 2 RBI, Kaylee Hughes 2-4 2 RBI, Riley Suits 2-4 RBI, Miranda Young 1-2 RBI (WV);Wood 3-3, Emily Mikkola 1-3 RBI, Makema Mason 2-3 RBI, Elia Atterson 2-4 RBI (WC). Records: Walker Valley 26-4; Warren County 19-7.
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