The old saying goes if the other team doesn’t score, you can’t lose. Pitcher Rhyann Jones and the Lord Botetourt girls softball team has certainly proven that in their journey to the Class 3 state softball tournament.
The Cavaliers were scheduled to host Turner Ashby on Tuesday in a state quarterfinal game. Results were too late for publication, but the winner will advance to Friday’s semifinal round in Spotsylvania County. The Class 3 championship is Saturday, also in Spotsylvania.
Lord Botetourt came into the state tournament as Region 3D champion and riding a six-game string of shutouts. Beginning with a 1-0 win over Staunton River in the final game of the regular season, LB shut out Franklin County and Staunton River in the Blue Ridge District tournament, then threw goose eggs at Abingdon, Northside and Cave Spring to win Region 3D. That six-game span covered 47 innings of shutout pitching by Cavalier senior Rhyann Jones.
The highlight of that streak was 12 innings of shutout ball in last week’s Region 3D semifinal win over Northside in Daleville. The Cavaliers needed to win that game to make the state tournament and Jones went out there inning after inning holding the fort while Northside’s Baylee Compton did the same, working out of three bases-loaded jams in the process.
Jones retired the Vikings in order in the top of the 12th to complete a string of 19 straight batters failing to reach base, and the dam finally broke in the bottom of that inning. LB’s Grace Thomas drew a walk off Compton, Riley Shupe singled to center to put runners on first and second and Mikayla Reed hit a grounder between the first and second basemen that managed to get through as Thomas raced home with the winning run, ending a game that lasted just over two and a half hours. The girls soccer game, that began an hour later up the hill at LB, ended at the same time as the softball game.
“We had the advantage of being home team due to seeding and it most definitely helped us in the end,” said LB coach Megan Dehart. “It was a true pitcher’s duel with Rhyann and Baylee Compton. I trusted Rhyann 110 percent to get us to where we needed to be and I had the utmost confidence in her to stay strong in the circle from inning one to 12. There was not a doubt in my mind that we could scratch a run across to end the game in walk-off style. Of course, we were hoping it would be sooner rather than later.”
When Cave Spring upset top-seeded Carroll County in the other region semifinal, the Cavaliers, who were the second seed, were able to host Friday’s Region 3D championship game. Jones continued her outstanding pitching with a 3-0 shutout to earn the Cavs a home game to start the state tournament on Tuesday of this week. It was the second year in a row the Cavaliers defeated Cave Spring in the region and LB had shut out the Knights twice during this year’s regular season, 6-0 and 4-0.
“The girls were very excited for this game as they knew it would be a challenge to beat the same team three times, but they rose to the challenge,” said Dehart. “I am on cloud nine for the girls, the other coaches, families and fans. We are all so excited to be making history by hosting a state game for the first time.”
The girls took a 20-4 record into Tuesday’s game with Turner Ashby.