WILLIAMSTOWN, W.Va. — So much for beginner’s luck.
In its first-ever Class A, Region 4 final, the Wahama softball team dropped a 4-1 decision to host Williamstown, in Wood County on Thursday.
Both teams were held to one single apiece over the first two frames, and Williamstown (15-14) retired the Lady Falcons (18-11) in order in the top of the third.
The Lady YellowJackets broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the third, as Sarah Hendrickson singled, advanced to second on a passed ball, moved to third on a ground-out by Faith Hoosier, and then scored on a ground-out by Courtney Dotson.
With one out in the top of the fourth, Wahama put two runners in scoring position after back-to-back Williamstown errors. However, back-to-back strikeouts ended the inning, stranding both runners.
The hosts stranded one runner in scoring position in the bottom of the fourth, failing to take advantage of a Lady Falcons’ error.
After back-to-back quick outs to start the top of the fifth, Wahama loaded the bases with two singles, sandwiched around a walk. Williamstown escaped the jam, however, as junior pitcher Nellie King struck out the next batter.
A two-out double by Williamstown senior Kayla Masters plated Hendrickson, making the hosts’ lead 2-0 in the bottom of the fifth.
The Lady Falcons were retired in order in the top of the sixth, and the Maroon and Gold added on with one out in the home half, when Bregan Wright doubled home Kristin Harmon and Kylie Powell. Wright was stranded in scoring position, however, as Wahama junior Taylor McGrew struck out the next two batters, keeping Williamstown’s lead at 4-0.
With two outs in the top of the seventh, Rachel Roque doubled home courtesy runner Hannah Billups, giving the Lady Falcons’ their first run of the game. However, Roque was thrown out trying to steal third, and the Lady YellowJackets took the 4-1 victory and the spot in the state tournament.
“Being here is something we shoot for every year, unfortunately Buffalo usually takes care of that for us,” Wahama head coach Matt VanMeter said. “It was a big accomplishment getting here, but it’s not the way we wanted it to turn out. We hit the ball, it just happened to go to their best infielder the majority of the time.”
King was the winning pitcher of record for the hosts, allowing one run on five hits and two walks, while striking out eight batters. McGrew suffered the loss in the record book, surrendering four runs on six hits, while striking out 10 and walking zero. Both pitchers tossed complete games.
Roque was 1-for-3 with a double and a RBI to lead Wahama, while McGrew, Taylor Warden, Morgan Harrison and Emily VanMatre each singled once.
“I could have gotten one run in, but I was greedy and wanted more than one,” VanMeter said. “We were in there trying to hit the long-ball instead of just trying to get base hits. It’s something that’s plagued us all year and hopefully the ones coming back will learn from it.”
Masters led the victors with one double, one single, one RBI and one stolen base in three at-bats. Wright doubled once and drove in two runs, Hendrickson singled once and scored twice, while Powell singled once, scored once and stole two bases. Harmon singled once, scored once and stole one base in the win, while Dotson drove in one run.
For the game, Wahama had three errors and six runners left on base, while Williamstown had two errors and five runners stranded. The Lady Falcons end their 2016 campaign on a three-game losing skid, while the Lady YellowJackets head into the state tournament on a five-game winning streak.
Wahama will have a much different look on the diamond next spring, as this is the final game in the Red and White for seniors Rachel Roque, Taylor Warden, Morgan Harrison, Emmalee Broyles, Maddison Ferguson, Faith Stewart, Destiny Divers, Faith Henry and Olivia Hill.
“They’re absolutely amazing,” VanMeter said of his seniors. “There’s no replacing them, we’ve got some freshmen that will be sophomores next year that will take their place on the field, but they won’t have the experience.”
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.