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Walker Valley shortstop Laney Harris throws a runner out during the first game of the Class AAA state softball final against Powell. The Lady Mustangs won 7-6 to force a final championship game, but Powell won that one.

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Powell edges Walker Valley 2-1 for AAA softball title

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. — The combination of having played three games in a little over 12 hours, waiting out a two-hour rain delay and falling just short of a state championship weighed heavy on Walker Valley softball coach Lauren Limburg.

The disappointment and exhaustion weren't enough, however, to prevent her from spending a few extra minutes with each of her players to tell them just how proud she, and the community, were of their accomplishment.

"They showed so much grit and passion this week," Limburg said after the Lady Mustangs' 2-1 loss to Powell in the Class AAA state championship game. Walker Valley earlier set up an extra final with a 7-6 win in eight innings.

"I just can't say enough about the heart and what a blessing it was to coach this group. We just couldn't get the big hit when we needed it. It's not the result we wanted, but I couldn't be more proud of them."

After losing its tournament opener the Lady Mustangs battled back through the losers bracket, winning five straight games — including four by one run — to reach the championship game. They began Friday with a 5-2 win to eliminate Ooltewah, then avenged the opening-round loss to Powell by rallying for the victory that forced the deciding game.

After waiting out a line of heavy rains, Walker Valley took the lead in the fourth when Riley Suits scored from second on Miranda Young's swinging bunt. Suits never slowed down as she rounded third, and when the throw home went wide, she scored the game's first run.

But Powell responded in the bottom of the fifth with a two-out, two-run single by Cayden Baker. The Lady Mustangs never threatened again.

-Walker Valley 7, Powell 6: Suits' home run in the top of the second gave the Lady Mustangs an early lead, and left fielder Carissa Frost's robbing of a Powell homer helped keep them in it. Walker Valley led late, but the game ended up tied at 4 at the end of regulation thanks to a one-out solo shot by the Lady Panthers' Haley Schultz in the bottom of the seventh.

The Lady Mustangs responded with three runs in the top of the eighth, and needed every one of them. Powell scored twice and still had runners on when Frost caught another deep drive near the fence to end it.

-Walker Valley 5, Ooltewah 2: In the losers-bracket final, the Lady Mustangs broke a tie with three runs in the bottom of the sixth.

Hannah Kate Singleton had a home run for Walker Valley and Laney Harris had two RBIs. Kayla Boseman, who took the pitching loss in relief, had a solo home run for Ooltewah (38-7).

"Our offense went south at the wrong time," Ooltewah coach Jon Massey said. "They got the hits that we didn't, and that was the difference. I thought early in the game we had some chances that we didn't execute on, and that came back to get us later."

Contact Stephen Hargis at shargis@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6293. Follow him on Twitter @StephenHargis.

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