Riverside makes it close

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(Photo by Mark Robinson)
Abigail Mullens, backed up by Callie Honaker, scoops up a grounder during a sectional game against Riverside Tuesday evening. East won, 7-5.

The Riverside Lady Warriors came to Fairlea Tuesday for a sectional softball game against Greenbrier East, and, like they did twice earlier in the season, left with a loss. But this game was interesting until the end, as the Spartans held on for a 7-5 win that wasn’t certain until the last out.

The first inning was scoreless, as Riverside went three up, three down, and East took its third out with two runners stranded on base. In the second, Riverside had a batter hit by a pitch, then a strikeout, then another batter made it to first on an error, then another batter was hit by a pitch, to load the bases. With the score 0-0 and the possibility of a long ball putting the visitors up by four, the electricity in the air faded quickly as pitcher Haylee Shires struck out the next two batters to leave the Warriors wishing.

East made better use of its try, scoring Callie Honaker, Ava Ambler and Gabby Mills to take a 3-0 lead. Several fielding errors by the Warriors helped advance runners during the inning. The last two outs came on fly balls.

In the third inning Riverside left two runners stranded, scoring none. East went three up, three down, with a strikeout sandwiched between two fly balls. Riverside used the top of the fourth to shake up the home crowd, scoring three runs to tie the game at three all. A single, a ground out, then four consecutive singles, the last a fielder’s choice, then a grounder for the last out. Two batters were left stranded, but the Warriors were delighted to be tied after four innings.

In the bottom of the fourth, East grounded out, hit a single, flied out, and grounded out, to leave the score knotted at three. In the fifth, Riverside hit two ground balls and one fly ball, all outs. East’s fifth inning was about the same, going three up, three down, with a grounder and two fly balls.

In the sixth, Riverside’s formula was fly ball, grounder, fly ball, to end its half of the inning. East then stopped the cycle of quick outs, scoring Honaker, Emilee Vance, and Mills, then Shires, to add four runs and make the score 7-3. The cushion seemed adequate, given Riverside’s troubles at the plate the previous innings. But the Warriors decided to make some music of their own in the final inning, hitting a single, than making it to base on an error, then a double to score two, then a fly out, then another single, and finally a grounder to third to end the inning and the game. The score was 7-5, with two runners left on base.

Given their fielding difficulties, and several innings of drought at bat, it was surprising that Riverside stayed so close. The two teams were scheduled to play again Thursday, to finish out sectional play. East, having won its first two sectional games, is guaranteed to advance to regional play next week, regardless of how the team does in Thursday’s game.