Facing a team that had scored 38 times the previous two nights and not having their No. 1 pitcher didn't bother Walker Valley, as the defending state runners-up stayed perfect in District 5-AAA play …
Facing a team that had scored 38 times the previous two nights and not having their No. 1 pitcher didn't bother Walker Valley, as the defending state runners-up stayed perfect in District 5-AAA play and notched their 20th win of the season Wednesday evening.
Freshman Hailey Leslie stepped in for ace Natalie Pruitt, who has been sidelined this week, and delivered her second straight eight-strikeout, shutout performance in as many nights.
"It was a good, solid game — our defense played really well and Hailey pitched a great game," proclaimed Lady Mustang head coach Lauren Limburg after the 5-0 win over a much-improved Cleveland High squad at Brenda McKenzie Lawson Field.
"She (Leslie) works all the time on her own to get better, and it shows on the field. She was hitting her spots and the ball was moving tonight.
"She pitched great against East Hamilton (tossing a three-hitter in a 4-0 win Tuesday) and shut them out, too. She also plays third base for us and has really stepped up to take a leadership role as a freshman," praised Limburg.
Walker Valley (20-7, 8-0) will return home to face McMinn County (12-14, 1-8) in another 5-AAA battle this evening at 5.
Cleveland (12-12, 3-9) will journey to Soddy-Daisy (22-8, 10-1) tonight to face the second place Lady Trojans.
The Feisty Fillies burst out of the gate with a trio of runs in the opening at bat with Piedmont signee Kaylee Hughes and Hannah Kate Singleton both roping RBI-doubles, while Katelyn Howell got in on the fun with a run-scoring single.
"The girls really came out on fire offensively," proclaimed Coach Limburg. "We made some really good contact all night, but they (CHS) made some great defensive plays on some of the balls."
Singleton, who went went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and a home run, tacked on the game's other two scores when she blasted a shot over the left-field fence in the sixth inning to plate Hughes, who also went 3-for-4 at the dish.
"Hannah Kate was really seeing the ball well today. She's another one of those who works not only with the team, but on her own as well," the Lady Mustang mentor stated. "She came through in clutch situations."
While the offense was rapping out 13 hits, the Fillies defense and Leslie were keeping the hosts off the base paths.
Although Cleveland was able to get a runner on in five of the seven frames, four were left stranded and the other erased, thanks to a double play when Hughes snagged a hard line drive by the bag at first and threw to second to catch the Lady Raider base runner off the bag.
Leslie scattered five hits and didn't issue a free pass to the potent Lady Raider lineup.
"I'm proud of our girls to keep their spirits up and even on the bench they were continually encouraging one another," praised Coach Limburg. "They love their teammates. That's the kind of family Walker Valley softball is."
Lauren Adamson (.388 BA, .434 OBP) had the lone extra-base hit for the hosts, stroking her eighth double of the season to open the bottom of the second inning, while Madilyn Kidd (.458, .500) reached on an infield hit and advanced on a throwing error. She moved to third on a groundout to be the only Lady Raider to get past second base.
Riina Senn (.367, .406), Emma Bayne (.396, .431) and Kayla Davenport (.364, .451) had the other three singles for the home team.
"We take pride in making adjustments throughout the game, even during an at bat, but I felt like we were a little anxious in the box today," said Cleveland head coach KJ Harris, whose team blasted Hixson 18-2 to start the week and crosstown rival Bradley Central 20-8 Tuesday evening. "We swung at some pitches we normally would let go by.
"This is probably our best 'whole' game, seven innings, we've played. A lot of girls played outside of themselves in the field, and made plays we haven't seen all year. Those are some steps forward we need to take.
"Sara Pritchard had a phenominal game on the mound. We had a game plan coming in and she executed that well," the Lady Raider leader proclaimed. "Even when she had a home run hit off her you didn't see her demeanor change. That's the kind of consistency we want to see and need on the mound.
"Kayla Davenport had two or three really incredible catches in left, and our outfielders were moving well to the ball, which is what we've got to have. We only had one error on the infield, other than that I can't ask any more on the defensive side.
"Offensively, we've got to string hits together when we're given opportunities," Harris concluded. "We are improving, which is what you want to do to get ready for the (district) tournament."
at Brenda McKenzie Lawson Field
Walker Valley3000020 — 5 13 0
Cleveland0000000 — 0 5 1
WP: Hailey Leslie (WV) 7 IP, 5 hits, 0 ER, 8 K's, 0 BB, 0 HBP. LP: Sarah Pritchard (C) 7 IP, 13 hits, 2 ER, 1 K, 0 BB, 0 HBP. HR: Hannah Kate Singleton (WV). 2B: Singleton 2, Kaylee Hughes (WV); Lauren Adamson (C). RBIs: Singleton 3, Hughes, Katelyn Howell (WV). LOB: WV 7; CHS 4. Highlights: Singleton 3-4, 2 2B, HR, 3 RBIs, 1 run; Jaicy Olivas 3-3; Hughes 3-4, 2B, RBI, 2 runs; Michele Benson 2-4; Howell 1-4, RBI, 1 run (WV); Adamson 1-3, 2B; Riina Senn 1-2; Madilyn Kidd 1-3; Kayla Davenport 1-3; Emma Bayne 1-3 (C) Records: Walker Valley 20-7, 8-0 District 5-AAA; Cleveland 12-12, 3-6 District 5-AAA.
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