HARTFORD, W.Va. — Sweet 16 and a share of the league.
The Wahama softball team won its 16th consecutive game and earned at least a share of the 2019 Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division title on Thursday in Mason County, as the Lady Falcons held on for a 9-8 victory over guest and defending champion Eastern.
Eastern (8-5, 8-3 TVC Hocking) — which also fell to the Lady Falcons (20-1, 13-0) by a 20-10 count on April 2 in Meigs County — led 1-0 in Thursday’s game, as Cera Grueser hit a solo home run in the top of the first inning.
Wahama evened the score with no outs in the bottom of the first, as Hannah Rose scored on an error. With two outs in the frame, Hannah Billups hit a two-run single, and Victoria VanMatre followed with a one-run single, making the WHS lead 4-1.
The Lady Eagles got one run back as Megan Maxon singled home Emmalea Durst in the top of the second. Wahama, however, went ahead 6-2 in the bottom of the second, as Tanner King hit a two-run double with two outs.
After a scoreless third inning, Eastern cut its deficit in half in the top of the fourth, as Grueser hit a two-out, two-run single. The Lady Falcons were back up by four after the bottom of the fourth, however, with Rose scoring on a wild pitch and Gibbs scoring on a double steal.
The teams combined to reach base just once in the fifth and sixth innings, and Wahama headed into the seventh with a 8-4 advantage. A two-out rally in the top of the seventh tied the game at eight, as Kelsey Roberts had an RBI triple and Ally Barber blasted a three-run home run.
EHS left the potential go-ahead run on second, and then with one out in the bottom of the inning, Billups doubled home Lauren Noble to give the Lady Falcons a 9-8 victory.
Rose earned the pitching victory in a complete game for the Red and White, striking out two and walking two, while surrendering eight runs, three earned, on 11 hits.
Leading the WHS offense, Billups was 2-for-4 with a double and three runs batted in, while Victoria VanMatre was 2-for-3 with one RBI. King doubled once and drove in two runs for the victors, Rose singled once and scored three times, while Noble singled once and scored twice. Emma Gibbs scored two runs in the win, while Emily VanMatre and Maddy VanMatre scored a run apiece.
Durst led the Lady Eagles at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and a run scored. Grueser was 2-for-3 with a homer, a run scored and three RBIs, Roberts was 2-for-4 with a triple, a run and an RBI, while Megan Maxon was 2-for-4 with a double, two runs and one RBI.
Barber had a homer, one run and three RBIs in the setback, Mollie Maxon added a single, while Metheney and Tessa Rockhold both scored once.
The Lady Falcons committed two errors and left five runners on base, while Eastern had three errors and six runners stranded.
The Lady Eagles are slated to be back on their home field against Federal Hocking on Monday. Wahama will have a chance to wrap up the TVC Hocking title outright on Monday at Belpre, and then will be back in Hartford to celebrate senior night against Trimble on Wednesday.
This is the fourth TVC Hocking softball title for the Lady Falcons, who shared the championship with EHS in 2012 and 2013, while winning it outright in 2017.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.