Tuesday’s Region 4-4A softball showdown between front-running Spring Valley and Blythewood was anything but a classic. In fact, it was a rout.
Host Blythewood (16-3, 6-1) need just five innings to dispatch Spring Valley (14-5, 6-1) and pull even with the Vikings atop the region standings with three games left in the conference campaign. The final toll was 12-0.
A loss would have all but halted Blythewood’s impressive run of region titles. The fifth-ranked Bengals, who debuted in 2006, now are very much in the mix for their eight straight outright or shared conference championship.
“We haven’t won anything yet, but tonight was our most complete game of the season,” said Blythewood coach Bucky Ware.
It was the third meeting of the season for the school district rivals. The first two clashes were one-run affairs - Blythewood was a 2-1 winner in the Lexington Wildcat Invitational tournament championship game, but the Vikings rallied for a 5-4 triumph in region play three days later.
This time, it was no contest. Blythewood jumped on SV pitcher Anna Davis for four runs in the first inning, and landed the knockout blow in the third with eight runs.
Junior slugger Jessica Roth set the tone with a two-run blast over the right field fence for the first runs of the game. It was the ninth home run of the season for Roth, and the 17th in her career. Both marks are school records.
“She’s work harder in the weight room in the off-season than anybody else and it’s paying off big time for her,” said Ware. “She focused, locked in on every at bat and now that teams are pitching around her, she is showing great plate discipline. Tonight, she went with the outside pitch and hit it out to right field.”
There was more to the story than just Roth’s big blast. Blythewood finished with 12 hits off Davis and reliever Morgan Barker, played errorless ball in the field and pitcher Katie Chappel got out of an early jam and cruised in the circle – allowing four hits with four strikeouts and no walks.
Sophomore shortstop Ansley Gilstrap had a big game – going 3-for-3 with three runs scored and three RBIs. The haul included a run-scoring triple off the fence in left field in the first and a two-run triple off the fence in center in the third.
Lori Owens and Jessica Ergle had two hits apiece.
Ware was most impressed by the fact that 10 of his team’s 12 runs went up on the board with two outs.
Spring Valley’s best chance to get to Chappell came in the first inning when Christie Reilly drilled a one-out double to the gap in right-center field and Greer Killman followed with an infield hit. But Chappell got out of the jam, allowing two harmless singles the rest of the way. At one point, the sophomore right-hander retired nine Vikings in a row.
Blythewood must guard against a letdown on Friday at Lugoff-Elgin against the scrappy Demons and ace pitcher Erin Blizzard. The Bengals needed a late error to escape with a 1-0 decision in the first meeting.