Regular-season champions in comfortable fashion with just one league loss, the Trojans (18-3) claimed the Mountain 7 tournament title as well with a methodical 4-1 home-field decision over third-seeded Ridgeview.
It was pretty much another day at the office for rookie head coach Hannah Cress and her top-seeded Trojans.
“It’s so rewarding,” said Cress, a former Coeburn Blue Knight and King College player who was an assistant at Wise County Central last spring. “I knew we had the talent coming in, but these kids have just worked so hard for me. It’s been a special year with these kids.”
Battle now plays a quarterfinal home game in next week’s Region 2D tournament, where perennial powers Lebanon and Richlands both await, among others.
“We know what we’ve got to face to get to where we want to go,” Cress said. “We played some tough non-conference games (in Kentucky) to prepare.”
Ridgeview (13-10) will also play in the Region 2D tournament, but the Wolfpack are unsure whether they will travel or be at home.
Madison Hill, a junior right-hander who allowed just one hit, went the distance and left Ridgeview with few opportunities. She struck out a dozen.
“Pitching was my thing and she’s taken right to it,” Cress said. “She’s really worked hard and we’re on the same page. She is excellent for us.”
Nikole Counts was the losing pitcher.
The Trojans scored twice in the second inning and once in the third to move ahead 3-0 before making it a 4-0 game with a run in the fifth.
Sarah Musick plated the game’s first run with an RBI single, before Anna Kate Wallace and Emma Harmon drove in runs with groundball outs. The fourth Trojan run scored on a pair of Ridgeview errors.
The Wolfpack broke up Hill’s no-hitter and shutout in the sixth when Hunter Grant singled and scored on a Bailey Frazier sacrifice fly.
UNION OVERCOMES BLUE DEVILS
Emili Brooks laced a two-run single with two outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, leading Union to a 4-3 win over Gate City in the consolation game.
A 5-foot-10 center fielder who had two of Union’s eight hits, Brooks lined her go-ahead knock to break the Lady Bears (13-7) free of a 2-2 deadlock.
Gate City (13-10-1) had tied the game in the top of the sixth when Sara Thompson blasted a two-run homer. A sophomore, Thompson had two of the Lady Blue Devils’ eight hits.
Kate Pendleton also had two hits for Gate City, which cut its sudden 4-2 deficit in half on a Kinslee Hammonds solo home run in the seventh.
Union had taken a 2-0 lead in the third inning, after Brooks had led off with a double. The junior scored on a Marleigh Duncan single and simultaneous error before Kayley Neece drove in a run with one of her three singles.
Duncan went the distance to get the win for Union, striking out six.
Pendleton, with seven strikeouts, covered the distance for Gate City.
Both teams had already qualified for next week’s Region 2D tournament. The Bears are still hoping for a quarterfinal home game.