By Stephen Smoot
Last week a fleet of Vikings came to Franklin. They came not for plunder, but to earn a victory over Pendleton County. Their trail of destruction over this season so far has taken them to Berkeley Springs, Moorefield, Frankfort, and Pocahontas County. They earned six wins to one loss and have outscored their opponents 67-18, 11 of those runs allowed coming in just one contest.
In other words, the Vikings have gotten used to winning big against schools in their double A tier. For a Petersburg team that has enjoyed such success, single A Pendleton County gave them all they wanted.
Petersburg struck first in the first. They earned a leadoff walk, then successfully executed a sacrifice bunt to move the runner to scoring position. With one out, they hit a double to send in the run. Pitcher Allie Vance shut down the top half of the inning by getting Petersburg to ground, then pop out.
Avery Townsend answered in the first Wildcat at bat. She sliced a hit into shallow right field, using her speed to turn what normally is a single into a sliding double. Lizzie Alt moved Townsend to third with a ground ball out. With one out, Vance helped her own cause by grounding to the pitcher and sending Townsend in for the first run.
Baylee Beachler then drew a walk on five pitches. Katie Hedrick followed and Beachler stole second during her at bat. Hedrick then sent Beachler to third on an infield single. Unfortunately, a strikeout ended the inning, but the Wildcats did tie the game at one.
In the top of the second, Petersburg led off with a single to right field. The next batter tapped the ball so gently that the runner on first failed to move. Nataley Hedrick, the Wildcat catcher, alertly fired the ball to first for a rare 2-3 double play. Vance struck out the last batter in the inning.
Petersburg did most of their damage in the top of the third inning. With one out, the batter legged out a slow roller in the infield. She was followed by a double to deep centerfield that put the go ahead run at third. The next Viking batter sent a single to right field that knocked in two RBIs. After a single to center and a subsequent single to right, Petersburg had loaded the bases.
Petersburg had put Vance in a jam, but she shut them down. She struck out the next batter and forced the final batter of the inning to hit a gentle roller toward first. Alt made the play herself, but the Wildcats found themselves down 3-1.
Scoring paused until the top of the sixth inning. The Vikings took a leadoff walk, followed by a second walk, then a strikeout. The next batter popped to short for the second out. With two outs, the Vikings failed on a squeeze play, but the batter hit an RBI single to shallow left. Nataley Hedrick once again made a big play from her catcher position, throwing out a runner trying to steal second.
The Wildcats tried to rally in the bottom of the inning. Townsend rocketed a leadoff stand up triple. After a strikeout, Vance grounded to first but earned an RBI as Townsend went home. A strikeout ended the inning with Petersburg up 4-2.
Vance made quick work of the Vikings in the top of the seventh. In a rare display of efficiency, she got three outs on only three pitches. Unfortunately, Pendleton County could not muster any offense in their final at bats either, leaving the final score at 4-2.
The Lady Wildcats were scheduled to travel Wednesday to Tucker County for a double header and to play Friday and Saturday at Robert C. Byrd High School.