Journeyman hurler Sidney Hooper got the win for the Lady Mustangs, striking out an even dozen Lady Raiders. The Austin-Peay signee held onto a no-hitter before Cleveland broke up the near perfect afternoon with two hits in the sixth.
“She pitched really well. She kept them off balance and her pitches were moving. Overall I think we played a really good defensive game. Everybody was on their toes and prepared when the ball came to them,” said Walker Valley coach Lauren Limburg. “I’m just proud of the girls. It was an overall team effort. Different people stepped up at the plate and I’m glad to see them get their first win and first district win.”
Three freshmen and two sophomores were among the nine Cleveland starters facing an always powerful Walker Valley team.
“We are young again. We are really young. The good news is we have a lot of potential in some of those young ones. They have really impressed me starting off. They have earned themselves a starting position. They are the heart of my lineup. They have come out and done a really good job. I’m excited about that,” said Cleveland coach Connie Stobert. “But, it all comes down to those mental mistakes and us not being able to adjust.
“Walker Valley is always really strong, but I don’t mind starting off with a strong opponent because it shows us where we need to be in order to compete.”
The Lady Mustangs scored their first run in the bottom of the second after Jordan Dodson, running for McKenzie Elrod, scored on A.J. Chancey’s double.
Walker Valley broke the game open in the bottom of the third with four runs scored off five consecutive hits. Baylee Boen led off with a double and Hooper, Elrod, Rachel Percy and Bayleigh Morgan followed up with singles. Lara Bean got the final two RBIs of the inning for the Lady Mustangs with a two-out single.
Chancey ripped her second double of the game with two outs in the fifth, scoring Morgan to make it a 7-0 game.
The Lady Raiders got on the board in the top of the sixth when Teliyah Cobb broke up Hooper’s no-hitter with a single. Hannah Holland made it a 7-1 game with Cleveland’s second hit of the game.
“Hooper is a good pitcher. She had a really great curve ball and got us a lot on the rise ball. We just weren’t disciplined enough to lay off it. That hurt us a lot. If you don’t produce those runs they are going to expose your weaknesses,” said Stobert.
The Lady Mustangs came back to put the game on ice in the bottom of the inning. Madison Russo reached on a third strike passed ball to lead off. Hallie Davis and Boen singled to score Russo. Both scored on an Elrod single. Hooper closed out the win after drawing a walk, making it to third and racing home on a fielder’s choice.
“It’s really great to get your first win as a district win. We haven’t been able to get outside,” Limburg stated. “I’m just really proud of the girls. Cleveland is a great team. I am excited for them. I think they played well.”
Cleveland 000 001 — 1 2 5
Walker Valley 015 014 — 11 12 2
WP: Sidney Hooper (1-0); LP: Haley Hodgson (0-1). 2B: A.J. Chancey (2), Baylee Boen (WV). Other highlights: Boen 2-4, McKenzie Elrod 3-4, Chancey 2-4. Records: Cleveland 0-1, 0-1 district 5-AAA; Walker Valley 1-0, 1-0.