Shaky defense spells defeat for Hawks

Hardin Valley Academy softball coach Whitney Hickam-Cruze is hoping that her team learned some valuable lessons from its 5-1 loss to Ooltewah Friday afternoon in the BSN Region

II Challenge at Farragut High School’s Bellamy Field in a game that lasted just five innings due to a tournament time limit.

The Hawks (20-11) had some defensive struggles and Hickam-Cruze said that those miscues in the field came down to two factors.

“Those defensive mistakes came down to focus and toughness,” Hickam-Cruze said, “These are good teams here and this will definitely get us ready for our district tournament.

“Our district is tough and we’ll have to be focused and tough come tournament time. Defensively, I thought we really struggled but offensively, I thought our girls were extremely focused at the plate.”

Hardin Valley missed an early scoring chance in the top of the first inning. Senior shortstop Kaleigh Wynne, HVA’s pitching ace who has seen limited time in the circle since suffering a broken finger on her throwing had earlier this season, had a one-out double and advanced to third when Owls pitcher Kayla Boseman uncorked a wild pitch.

By inning’s end, Wynne was stranded at third base as Boseman induced a groundout from Hardin Valley pitcher Mikaela Chavis and got Sydney Dukes to strike out.

In the bottom of the inning, Chavis escaped any damage as she pitched around a single and a two-base error in the frame.

The Owls took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning. Ooltewah scored the game’s first run after Chavis retired the first two batters in the frame. Jadyn Raschke singled to start the two-out rally. Catcher Marissa Forrester followed with a hit before Addy Kaylon drew a walk to load the bases.

The Owls took the lead when a single by shortstop Tiera Lemon plated Raschke with the game’s first run.

Boseman yielded a two-out single to Hardin Valley second baseman Haley Cloud in the third before seeing her teammates blow the game open with three runs in their half of the inning.

Boseman struck out to open the Owls’ third but Ooltewah took advantage of two HVA errors and a balk to put runners on second and third. Tyler Sullivan, Forrester and Kaylon all had RBI singles before the inning ended.

HVA scored its lone run of the game in the fourth. Chavis led off the inning with a single and advanced to third when Dukes grounded out. Chavis scored when Leslie Beecham singled. Freshman Jasmine Goodman singled by was stranded when Boseman ended the inning with back-to-back strikeouts.

Ooltewah scored another run in the fourth before Boseman retired the Hawks in order in the fifth to end the game.

Beecham said that the Hawks need to work on defense before embarking on a district championship defense this week.

“We just need to work on our defense,” she said. We need to have our pitchers’ backs.

“Their pitcher kept us a little off-balance. She’s a good pitcher.”

Chavis said that she was pleased with her effort in the circle.

“I thought I threw pretty well but we need to use these games to work on our mistakes before we start the district,” Chavis said. “I don’t think we will make these mistakes when we get to districts.”