Blythewood put a stranglehold on first place in Region 4-4A softball on Tuesday night, downing second place Spring Valley 13-10.
The youthful Bengals improved to 13-3 overall, 7-0 in region matters. Spring Valley fell to 7-6, 5-2. Blythewood can virtually lock up the championship with a win over Dutch Fork on Friday.
“Not only was it a big region win, but Spring Valley has been our biggest rival since we started the program,” said Blythewood coach Bucky Ware.
“I liked the way we kept battling even when we got down early, and we got contributions from everybody. In big games like this, we’re not looking for style points. It’s the bottom line that matters.”
In a game that was exciting and at times quite untidy, the contenders combined for 23 runs, 27 hits and 11 errors. Ware’s scrappy bunch banged out 16 hits and took advantage of seven Spring Valley errors.
“I told the girls that in big region games you have to have all aspects of the game in your favor, and we didn’t have that tonight,” said SV coach Bob Matz. “The region championship may no longer be under our control, but we’re halfway through the season and there’s still a lot of softball left to be played. We still have time to work things out.”
Spring Valley got the jump in the bottom of the first inning on a two-out, two-run double by Savannah Dowell, and had a 5-2 lead through the first three innings. But the Bengals kept hammering away and plated two runs in the fourth, five in the fifth three in the sixth and one more in the seventh.
It all began with titanic two-run home run to center field in the top of the second by freshman first baseman Jessica Roth, who later drilled a RBI triple.
“That was the hardest ball I’ve ever seen hit here,” said Ware. “Even though Spring Valley came back and took the lead again, that hit gave us a lot of momentum. We swung the bat extremely well tonight.”
Ellen Cordova and Jessica Ergle joined Roth in the Blythewood offensive spotlight. Cordova went 4-for-5, scored three runs and stole three bases. Ergle was 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Freshman Michaela Wickham delivered a clutch, two-out, two-run pinch hit double to cap a five-run rally in the fifth that put Blythewood in the lead for good.
Christie Reilly and Lauren Skinner had three-hit games for the Vikings. Eight of the nine Spring Valley starters contributed something tangle in the box score – either a hit, a run or a RBI.
Cordova was the winning pitcher in relief. Ironically, eighth-grader Katie Chappell picked up a save and was the starting pitcher for Blythewood. Cordova relieved Chappell in the third inning, but left the game in the seventh after she took a hot shot off her left (pitching) hand. Chappell returned to the circle to get the final two outs.
Rachel Mellin started for Spring Valley and took the loss.