Airport gave Class 3A top-ranked Midland Valley a serious run for the money in Wednesday’s District V softball championship game, only to fall a bit short. The 26-3 Mustangs eliminated the game Eagles 1-0 to avoid an anything-goes second game and move on to the Lower State championship tournament.
Airport, which finished with a 12-15 season with a spirited playoff run in Jessica Burke’s second season in charge, had some good scoring chances but could never quite solve Amber Holley. The MV senior left-hander had only one strikeout in the game but was backed by air-tight defense and she retired 15 Eagles in succession at one point. Airport’s best opportunity came in the top of the sixth inning. The Eagles had the bases loaded with two outs and cleanup hitter Lauren Phillips digging in at the plate. Holley jammed Phillips with a rising inside pitch, inducing an inning-ending foul pop out to the Mustangs catcher. The Eagles had a runner at second base with one out in the top of the seventh, but a failed steal attempt of third ended Airport’s hopes of focing an anything-goes second game.
Midland Valley scored an unearned run in the second inning off Phillips that proved to be the title-clincher. It came on an errant Eagles throw in a run-down situation with two Mustangs runners on base. Phillips served up just five Mustang hits.
MV defeated Airport four times this season – twice in Region 5-3A outings, twice in the playoffs. All four games were close, but Airport’s inability to find home plate in the series proved telling. The Eagles failed to score in three of the games.