The two Botetourt County high school softball teams will prepare for regional tournaments by playing each other this week in the regular season finale for both. James River will host Lord Botetourt at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in Springwood.
Regional tournaments for both teams will begin next week and both have been playing well down the stretch. James River comes into Thursday’s game on an eight game win streak while Lord Botetourt has beat Northside Monday for their fourth win in five games.
Botetourt’s Rhyann Jones pitched a seven-inning no-hitter against Northside in a 5-0 win over the Vikings in Daleville Monday. Jones allowed just one walk in the seventh inning to keep her from a perfect game. LB freshman Riley Shupe threw out a girl at first from right field to preserve the no-hitter in an earlier inning.
“The ball went between first and second and she charged in and threw out the girl at first,” said LB coach Cheryl Shockley. “It was a bang-bang play.”
Botetourt had just two hits, a single by Makena Shupe and a bunt single by Jackson Kemper. The Cavaliers benefited from 11 Northside walks.
The Cavaliers were scheduled to play the Vikings again on Tuesday at Northside in a regularly scheduled game. Monday’s game was a makeup from when the Northside girls were observing COVID protocols.
Monday’s win improved LB’s record to 6-4 after a slow start to the season. Last week the Cavaliers won at Staunton River, 5-1, behind another strong effort by Jones. She allowed just four hits and struck out eight. Gianna Sloan-Lebron had three hits for LB.
Last Friday in Rocky Mount the Cavs saw a three game winning streak ended with a 7-4 loss to host Franklin County. The game was tied at 2-2 before the Eagles plated five runs in the bottom of the sixth. Halle Reese, Carsen Brake and Maddie Carroll had two hits each for LB.
While the Cavaliers have been hot, James River has been red hot with eight straight wins after opening the season 0-3. On Monday in Radford Jenna Pugh and Ainsley Simmons had three hits each as the Knights pounded out a 15-2 win over the host Bobcats.
Pugh had a two-run home run and a two-run double and three runs scored. Simmons had three singles, two stolen bases, and two runs scored. Lacey Lucado, Lauren Griffin, and Austyn Moran had two hits apiece and Lizzie Garrett, Kaycee Kincaid, Elly Lackey, and Lexi McCullough had one hit each.
Moran pitched four scoreless innings to earn the win. She allowed two hits and struck out six with no walks. Simmons pitched the fifth inning, allowing one hit with one strikeout and no walks.
“It took us a while to get going,” said River coach Steve Austin. “Jenna’s fourth inning home run seemed to wake up our bats as 12 of our 16 hits came in the fourth and fifth innings.”
Last Thursday in Springwood the Knights needed nine innings to beat a strong Carroll County team, 4-3.
Simmons’ bases loaded single to right field plated Griffin with the winning run in the first inning of International Tie Breaker play
From the fifth inning on, and score tied at 3-3, both teams had an array of outstanding defensive plays, including a hidden ball play by Carroll County, clutch pitching, and missed opportunities. In the top of the ninth, with a runner starting the inning at second, the Cavaliers stranded their runner as Moran, in her sixth inning of relief, retired the top three hitters in the line up on an infield fly, a liner to right, and a strike out.
Then in the bottom of the ninth, the Carroll coach elected to walk Griffin to put runners on first and second. Pugh then hit a hard single to left loading the bases with no outs. After a force out at home to a drawn in infield, Simmons singled to right to send the home crowd on their way happy.
Simmons pitched three first 3-2/3 innings of the game, then Moran finished up with 5 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to pick up the win.
“This was one of the better games I have been a part of in quite a while,” said Austin. “Carroll County is a well-coached team and they played hard, made some really good defensive plays, and got clutch hits. We played an error-free game and that was probably the difference in the end.”
Both River and LB will play in region tournaments next week. The Knights will have a high seed and a home game and Shockley is hoping LB also has a home game on Monday.
“We are heading into the last week of regular play sitting at the five seed,” she said. “This week is going to be great to prepare us for the pressure of regionals.”
The regional tournaments for LB and River will be single elimination, with only the winner advancing to state play.