The James River girls were preparing to play a region semifinal softball game as the paper went to press this week with a spot in the state tournament on the line.
Christiansburg High School was the site of the Region 2C semifinals with James River taking on Dan River in one game and Chatham meeting Appomattox in the other. The two winners will play in the Region 2C championship at 6 p.m. Friday, also at Christiansburg High, and both finalists will have a spot in the state tournament next week.
River made the semifinals with a 5-2 win over Three Rivers District rival Alleghany in last Saturday’s region quarterfinal game. River ace Austyn Moran scattered four hits, struck out 10, and allowed only one earned run in pitching her team to victory. She hit one batter and did not walk anyone as she coaxed eight ground ball outs.
The game was tied 2-2 into the bottom of the fourth when Lexi McCullough singled up the middle and stole second base. Kaycee Kincaid then doubled to left center, plating McCullough with her 34th RBI of the year to bump the score to 3-2, Knights.
Moran took over the game from that point, retiring the last nine Mountaineers in order. Senior Karlee Eubank’s likely last at bat on her home field was a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the sixth that gave the Knights a three-run cushion going into the top of the seventh.
“This was a very good team victory over a talented, experienced squad,” said River coach Steve Austin. “We got a determined effort from Austyn on the mound, solid defense and timely hitting. The key on offense was that we were patient and laid off of the pitcher’s pitches and we hit more hitter’s pitches against them than we have in the past.”
The win gave the Knights a 16-4 record heading into Tuesday’s game in Christiansburg.
“These top ranked teams in the semifinals in Christiansburg are at a whole different level,” said Austin. “We will go play and do the best we can and give it our best shot.”