The ending to Saturday afternoon’s game at Soddy-Daisy flipped the script that had played out over the first six-and-a-half innings. The walk-off win for visiting Independence, though, fit snugly into the bigger picture of Soddy-Daisy’s first two weeks.
Scheduled as the home team in one of the last games of the Ooltewah Invitational, Independence spoiled a complete game by Trojans senior Dalton Rogers and kept Soddy-Daisy winless in tournament play this season. The Eagles wrapped up their tournament with a 2-1 win, while Soddy-Daisy was forced to again search for a bright spot in a disappointing loss.
“It’s been a rough weekend,” Soddy-Daisy coach Jared Hensley said. “We’re not getting throttled. We’re right there in close games, we just can’t seem to find a way to win it.”
Rogers pitched an efficient 6.1 innings, throwing just 67 pitches while striking out two and walking none. The Cleveland State signee is primarily a relief pitcher during district play, but with no district games on the schedule for Monday or Tuesday, he was allowed to extend the rare start deep into the game.
“He’s done good,” Hensley said. “He’s worked himself out of some jams, but he hasn’t looked that good. I was really glad to see him come out and throw well today. He did a good job.”
Rogers said he will likely play second base or shortstop in college, but is willing to take the mound when needed. In addition to pitching, he generally starts at third base and bats third in the lineup.
“I like playing the field because I can hit and that’s my favorite part of playing baseball,” Rogers said. “But if I pitch, hey, give me the ball and I’ll take it.”
Independence scored an unearned run in the first inning, but Rogers allowed only two more hits until the sixth. Independence designated hitter Cooper Cole drove home the winning run with a single to right field. Devin DeMatteo scored the only run for Soddy-Daisy in the second, but he was the only Trojan to reach second base or farther in the game.
The Trojans dropped to 4-5 with the loss. They scored nine runs Friday night but lost 11-9 to Jefferson County. Saturday, they managed only four hits and an unearned run.
Soddy-Daisy is in first place in District 5-AAA but the trouble in tournament play through the first two weeks hasn’t been overlooked.
“Today we pitched great and just didn’t hit it,” Hensley said. “We’ve seen weaknesses in every game. … We are 4-0 in the district and that’s our No. 1 priority. To be there is where we want to be. We’ve just got to figure out how to piece together some wins in the tournaments so it’s not such a long weekend for everybody. We’ll get there.”
The bats briefly appeared in the second game of the afternoon, against Upperman. The teams each scored three early runs, but the game was called for rain after the third inning. The Trojans won’t play district games this week, and will travel to Murfreesboro for a tournament next weekend. Meanwhile, the search for cohesiveness continues. Hensley is shuffling as many as three sophomores and two freshmen into the lineup on a given day.
“Yes, we are young but we expect some big things for those guys so we’re not going to use that as a crutch,” Hensley said. “We’re going to use it as an opportunity to get better, learn from it and hopefully in the next couple of weeks they’ll start figuring out what they need to do to be more productive.”
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