Long, Davis combine for shutout to lift Sonoraville to 9-0
Sonoraville starting pitcher Taylor Long took a hard line drive right back off her that resulted in a hit by the leadoff batter in the first inning on Thursday against North Murray. That might’ve rattled some pitchers. But all the freshman Long did was not allow another hit the rest of her time in the circle against the Lady Mountaineers.
Behind a dominant outing by Long and two strong relief innings by senior Kristen Davis, the Lady Phoenix continued their early-season roll with a 1-0 home victory over North Murray to remain perfect overall and in region play. The Lady Phoenix (9-0, 7-0 in 6-AAA) got a run in the bottom of the first inning, and that’s all they needed to support the shutdown pitching tandem of Long and Davis.
Sonoraville coach Chad Hayes said he feels really good with either one of his two ace pitchers on the mound and both are capable of shutting down opposing offenses.
“We have a ton of confidence in Taylor,” said Hayes. “We were hoping to get her some varsity innings, and we thought today against a good team in North Murray would be a good time to do that. She was hitting her spots and getting ahead early. She is really mature beyond what most freshmen are. She showed that in the first inning when she took a line drive right back at her from the leadoff hitter that resulted in a hit, and she just went right back to work, put it behind her and had success from that point on.
“And then with Kristen, nothing phases her. She’s comfortable starting, coming in relief in the middle of the game or closing games out. To have Taylor give us a start like that and have a senior like Kristen come in behind her and shut them down makes me feel very good about our chances as a team.”
Long finished going five innings of one-hit ball and striking out nine while only walking one. Davis pitched the final two frames and allowed two hits while striking out four.
After North Murray leadoff hitter Talli Burgess reached on the line drive that deflected off Long in the first, the Lady Phoenix eventually erased the potential scoring on a ground ball to shortstop that Karley Thomas fired home to catcher Sandra Beth Pritchett who tagged out Burgess.
Sonoraville then turned around in the bottom half of the inning and jumped ahead when Thomas raced around the bases to score on an RBIdouble by Davis following Thomas reaching on a leadoff walk. Despite a few other scoring chances not coming to fruition, Long and Davis made the one run stand up as that was all the support they needed for the shutout win.
“You obviously want to score early and get ahead to get the momentum on your side,” said Hayes. “We would definitely like to score more often. As good as well feel about any lead with Taylor and Kristen pitching, we would like to be able to give them a little more cushion to work with on the scoreboard. Eventually, I think we will get the bats going. We’ve just got to go back to work and figure some things out.”
Along with Davis’ double, Sonoraville’s Shayna Dutton also had a double. Griffin Holden was the only other Lady Phoenix batter to record a hit as Burgess was pretty solid in the circle for North Murray as well. Thomas and Payton Townsend each drew walks.
Burgess took the tough-luck loss for the Lady Mountaineers (7-5, 3-4 in 6-AAA) after pitching six innings and allowing one run on just three hits while striking out eight. She added two hits at the plate.
Hayes said the 9-0 start is great, but his team is just focusing on going 1-0 every day.
“We go by mantra of taking care of the game today,” said Hayes. “We don’t worry about the game tomorrow or yesterday, we just worry about trying to win the one today. This is a great start to get to 9-0…the best start we’ve ever had as a program, but we can’t focus on that. We’ve got to work hard and try to win the next one.”
The Lady Phoenix were on the road on Tuesday at Ringgold. (For details on that game, see Saturday’s Calhoun Times.) They visit rival Calhoun on Thursday at 6:30 p.m. in a big region matchup.
Sonoraville’s Taylor Long delivers a pitch to the plate during the third inning on Thursday against North Murray.
Sonoraville catcher Sandra Beth Pritchett (right) tags out North Murray’s Talli Burgess at the plate during the first inning.