For the second time in four days, Blythewood and Spring Valley engaged in dramatic competition on the softball diamond.
Blythewood was a 2-1 winner over the Vikings in eight innings on Saturday night to cap a 5-0 run to the championship of the Wildcat Invitational tournament. On Tuesday, Spring Valley countered with a come-from-behind, 5-4 win at home to take over sole possession of first place in Region 4-4A.
“Blythewood’s an excellent team and we always seem to go down to the wire,” said Vikings coach Maureen McKelvey. “On Saturday we had our chances but didn’t get the job done. Tonight, we did because we never stopping battling and we delivered in the clutch.
Indeed, Spring Valley (7-2 overall, 3-0 in the region) fell behind early when Blythewood scored three runs in the top of the first inning, but chipped away with single runs in the first second and third innings. The teams went scoreless until the seventh. Blythewood (8-2, 2-1) broke the 3-3 stalemate with a run-scoring triple by Bailey Newman. In the bottom of the seventh, the Vikings pulled it out when Briana Hill stoked a two-out pitch on a 3-2 count for a two-run single to score Greer Killman and courtesy runner Hope Hobgoob.
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“It doesn’t matter if one team gets a big lead or not, it usually comes down to a one-run game when we play,” said Blythewood coach Bucky Ware. “We had some chances to put it away, but didn’t and we had to throw a few too many pitches in the last inning.”
The Bengals got the jump in the first thanks to two walks, a SV error, a sacrifice fly by Lori Owens and a two-run triple to right field by Ainsley Gilstrap.
Spring Valley began chipping away in the first with a leadoff single by pitcher Anna Davis, a sacrifice bunt by Christie Reilly and a RBI single by Greer Killman. In the second, Anna Davis scored Natalie Davis with a single to cut the deficit to 3-2. The Vikings tied it up in the third with three straight singles by Brittany Evans, Morgan Barker and Hill. Hill’s single to center plated Hobgood, who was running for Evans.
The teams traded scoreless innings in the fourth, fifth and sixth. Both teams delivered under pressure in the seventh. Newman’s triple came with two outs, as did Hill’s decisive two-run single in the Vikings turn.
Spring Valley and Blythewood shared the Region 4-4A championship last season with Dutch Fork, and both the Vikings and Bengals return all or the bulk of the players from a a year ago. With Dutch Fork now in Region 5-4A, the region race figures to be a two-team affair. The region rematch is on April 9 at Blythewood.
Blythewood’s eight-inning win on Saturday for its first-ever Wildcat Invitational championship featured solid pitching by Katie Chappell and clutch hitting by Jessica Roth. Chappell scattered six on the way to the decision in the circles, and Roth did all the offensive damage with a solo home run in the second inning and a game-winning, title-clinching single in the eighth.
Blythewood’s 8-6 tournament win over Ashley Ridge on Friday was the 150th by the Bengals under Ware since the program’s inaugural campaign in 2006.