Skyline rallies past Sherando softball 7-5

Posted: March 28, 2013

The Winchester Star

Sherando’s Michaela Carper (right) reached base three times and scored a run in the Warriors’ 7-5 Northwestern District loss to Skyline on Wednesday night. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)
Sherando sophomore first baseman Heidi Brown makes the play after an infield grounder by Skyline’s Hannah Ritter. Brown went 2 for 4 with two runs scored in the Warriors’ 7-5 loss to the Hawks. (Photo by Jeff Taylor/The Winchester Star)

STEPHENS CITY — Softball may not be part of the old adage about close only counting in horseshoes and hand grenades, but Sherando was probably wishing it was Wednesday.

On a frigid night that saw the wind refuse to die down for most of the game, the Warriors came within a strike of winning and a inch of forcing extra innings in a 7-5 loss to Skyline at Sherando Park.

Sherando (2-1, 1-1 Northwestern District) led 5-4 heading into the seventh inning and, after a pair of walks sandwiched around a strikeout and a sacrifice bunt put runners on first and second, looked like it was going to hold on for the victory.

Senior pitcher Courtney Reid (seven innings, nine hits, three walks and two strikeouts) fired a 2-2 fastball to Hawks pinch hitter Hannah Ritter that just missed the outside corner for strike three.

One pitch later, Ritter belted an RBI double to right-center field to tie the game.

Senior Allison Funk then stepped to the plate and, with a full count, laced a two-run single to right field that landed right on the chalk line to score the eventual winning runs for Skyline (2-2, 1-0).

“It’s a game of inches,” said Sherando coach Clarence Smith. “We were down to the last strike, thought we had a call there on one of the last batters, and then of course the hit down the line, you’re talking about a couple blades a grass maybe from being a foul ball.

“That’s the way it goes sometimes and this time it went against us.”

The Warriors came into the game riding a four-game losing streak against the Hawks, who swept the regular season series last year and beat Sherando in the district tournament championship game as well.

But for a team that was outscored 19-3 in those four games, the Warriors certainly showed no signs of being intimidated by Skyline on Wednesday.

Senior pitcher Sarah Beamer (seven innings, five hits, four walks and 10 strikeouts) got the Hawks out to a quick lead with a home run to dead-center field in top of the first inning, but Sherando answered right back.

Sophomore shortstop Michaela Carper and senior left fielder Katie Seymour drew back-to-back walks and both eventually scored, with Carper coming around on an error and Seymour scoring on senior Haley Miles’ (2 for 3) RBI single to right.

Skyline took the lead back with two runs in the second, one of which came on a solo shot from Funk, but the Warriors didn’t panic.

Reid regrouped to shut down the Hawks’ offense over the next three innings and the offense gave her back the lead as sophomore first baseman Heidi Brown (2 for 4 with two runs scored) singled and eventually scored on a passed ball in the third inning to tie the game and sophomore designated player Allison Bauer ripped a two-run shot to center field in the fifth to make it 5-3 Sherando.

“Allison’s off to an absolute sizzling start to the season and it’s been great to watch,” Smith said. “She’s got a nice, easy, but powerful swing and I think the sky’s the limit for her.”

Skyline managed to get a run back in the sixth off a double steal, but Bauer’s home run looked like it would hold up when Reid got the first two outs of the seventh.

But the third out wouldn’t come until three Hawks’ runners had crossed home plate and Beamer retired the Warriors in the bottom half of the seventh to close out the win.

“It’s like I told the girls before the game, adversity defines character and I think when we got down the girls could have done one of two things, they could have played or given up,” said Skyline coach Frank Nelson.

“This team doesn’t have any way to quit, they just play and play and play and they find ways to win.”

On a night where the weather affected both teams — the wind was blowing out to right-center field for most of the game — Smith said the Warriors had opportunities to take home the victory.

“The ball tends to carry a bit more when it’s cooler out, and they got a couple balls in the air that carried over, but we also benefited from that,” Smith said. “We still had a lead after those two home runs, the plays were out there to be made and the ball bounced the other way today.”

Sherando won’t see Skyline again until April 18, but Reid said the Warriors will be ready for them the next time around.

“We just have to focus on what went wrong and fix that for the next two times we play them,” Reid said. “Our lineup’s a lot more solid than it was last year, so we’re more confident at the plate. We just have to keep getting better.”

— Contact Kevin Trudgeon at ktrudgeon@winchesterstar.comFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1