The third time wasn’t the charm Walker Valley had hoped for.
For the third straight year the Lady Mustangs faced off against perennial powerhouse Soddy-Daisy in the District 6-AAA championship game, but like the last two when all was said and done, the Lady Trojans claimed the title.
After Walker Valley bounced back from a second-round loss with four straight victories to force a second title game Wednesday evening at Brenda McKenzie Lawson Field, Soddy-Daisy came out strong and held off a late charge by the Lady Mustangs for a 7-5 decision.
“Soddy is an excellent team. They came focused and ready to fight tonight, and we didn’t,” proclaimed Walker Valley head coach Lauren Limburg. “While we’re disappointed with the loss, I’m proud that we didn’t give up. We fought to the very last out.”
One thing that will be different this time around for Walker Valley is it won’t be traveling to Coffee County, where its season has ended the last two years, to open the Region 3-AAA Tournament Monday, as the Lady Red Raiders have moved to a different region.
Instead, Coach Limburg’s herd will hit the trail to either Cookeville or Rhea County for Monday’s region opener.
Cookeville (26-9) went undefeated in District 6-AAA play this season and nipped the Lady Eagles 6-5 in the winner’s bracket final last night. Rhea County then blanked Warren County 10-0 to earn the right to face the Lady Cavaliers again for the title this evening.
The Lady Mustangs shut out Cookeville 2-0 at the Crossville Tournament earlier this year, plus swept Rhea County in a pair of close regular season games, by 6-5 and 7-5 tallies.
“We need to take care of business Monday and then we’ll probably get another shot at Soddy Wednesday,” Coach Limburg remarked. The Lady Trojans have played in 10 of the last 12 TSSAA tournaments with five state titles (2012, ’10, ’07, ’06, ’03) and three runner-up trophies (’11, ’05, ’04) to show for it, plus came up just one win shy of making the state event the other two years.
Facing off for the fifth time this season, Walker Valley (34-14) and Soddy-Daisy (32-8) had split their previous four meetings before Wednesday, with the Lady Mustangs forcing a second championship game with a 5-3 victory the night before.
The Lady Mustangs got on the scoreboard first with a solo run in the game’s first at bat.
All-stater Hallie Davis started a two-out rally with the first of three straight singles. Junior AJ Chancey followed with a knock just inside the left field foul line before classmate Alicia Raymond drove Davis home.
The Lady Trojans answered with a pair of scores in the bottom of the first when Cameren Swafford reached base on the first of four WV errors on the night, and all-district performer Haley Reynolds then blasted a home run to put Soddy in front to stay.
Adding solo runs in the second, fourth and sixth frames, plus a pair of scores in the third, the Lady Trojans held a 7-2 advantage heading into the final frame.
Walker Valley picked up a run in the top of the fifth inning when Davis laced a one-out triple and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Chancey.
Down by five runs heading into their last at bat, the “Feisty Fillies” finally showed up when Tennessee Wesleyan signees Baylee Boen and Rachel Percy led off with back-to-back singles. Davis then stepped into the box and blasted her 16th home run of the season, five of which came in the tournament, over the center-field fence.
Walker Valley touched up Soddy starter Shonna Penney (16-3) for 13 hits in the contest, but the freshman pitching sensation bounced back from Davis’ big blow to get the next three batters, including recording her sixth strikeout, to close out the contest.
Lady Mustang ace Raymond, slipped to 25-11 on the season with her seventh straight complete-game effort of the tournament. Although she gave up 11 hits, only four of the Lady Trojan runs were earned.
Missing just a double to have hit for the cycle, Davis went 3-for-4 in the contest, with a trio of RBIs and three runs scored. Junior Mackenzie Elrod went 3-for-3, while Boen and Raymond both were 2-for-4. Boen scored a run, while Raymond drove one in.
“We made some errors, which led to runs, and that’s not like us,” proclaimed Coach Limburg. “We also left too many (seven) runners on base, especially early in the game. We had chances to score more runs, but we couldn’t come up with the hits when we needed too.”
The Lady Mustangs feel they still have plenty of more softball to play, and plan to put the loss behind them and get ready for the next round.
District 5-AAA Championship Game
Walker Valley 100 010 3 — 5 13 4
Soddy-Daisy 212 101 x — 7 11 1
WP: Shonna Penney (16-3) 7 IP, 6 K’s, 0 BB, 13 hits, 5 ER. LP: Alicia Raymond (25-11) 6 IP, 2 K’s, 1 BB, 11 hits, 4 ER. HR: Hallie Davis (WV); Haley Reynolds (SD). 3B: Davis (WV). 2B: Carly Frost (WV); Reynolds, Abby Walker (SD). RBIs: Davis 3, AJ Chancey, Raymond (WV); Reynolds 3, Walker, Shana Ward, Grayson Brown (SD). Highlights: Davis 3-4, HR, 3B, 3 RBIs, 3 runs; Mackenzie Elrod 3-3; Baylee Boen 2-4, run; Raymond 2-4, RBI; Chancey 1-3, RBI; (WV); Reynolds 3-4, HR, 2B, BB, 3 RBIs, run; Ward 3-3, RBI, run; Brooke Hale 1-3, BB, 2 runs: Cameren Swafford 1-3, RE, 2 runs (SD). Records: Walker Valley 34-14; Soddy-Daisy 32-8.