By Stephen Smoot
At the same time as attendees started to pack the community building for Trout Fest dinner, the Wildcats were hosting the always dangerous Moorefield Yellow Jackets.
The teams played under bright blue skies and temperatures that remained warm until the close of the contest. Almost no wind stirred the welcomed spring air.
Baylee Beachler pitched for Pendleton County and struck out the first batter. The second, however, singled to center field. She then stole second and third during the next at bat and scored a run on a passed ball.
The Wildcats took over in the bottom of the inning down 1-0. The Yellow Jacket pitcher, Amber Williams, walked the second batter, but got the rest out. Beachler followed in the top of the second by putting the Moorefield batters down in order.
Moorefield scored two more runs in the top of the fourth. A series of unfortunate events brought in three runs to give the Yellow Jackets a brief 4-0 advantage.
Beachler pitched well. The Yellow Jackets hit mostly ground balls off of her and she got stronger as the game went on.
Lizzie Alt led off the bottom of the fourth with a single. Two batters later, Beachler hit a screaming line drive to deep right field for a sliding triple and an RBI. Ashton Hess next worked a full count on eight pitches, then hit a single that scored the final run of the inning to cut the lead to 4-2.
Beachler set Moorefield down in four batters in their half of the fifth, collecting two strikeouts in the inning. Williams, however, continued to pitch brilliantly for Moorefield although she did start showing signs of fatigue during the fifth and more so for the rest of the game.
In the top of the sixth, Moorefield added an insurance run. They led off with a line drive to shallow center field. Then the runner stole second to get into scoring position. A ground ball out advanced her to third. With one out, the Yellow Jackets got her home on a sacrifice to set the score at 5-2.
In the Pendleton County half of the sixth, Beachler once again aided her own cause. She smacked a double, followed by Hess once again hitting an RBI single. When Beachler crossed the plate, it cut the lead back to two.
Beachler got Moorefield to go down in order in the top of the seventh to set up her team for a possible rally. The light of day started to diminish as the sun dropped behind the ridges west of Franklin and Moorefield’s Williams seemed to be fading as well. Many pitches went either high or into the dirt. Some of the Wildcat hits came off of balls that hung enticingly over the plate.
The bottom of the seventh started well. Julia Mongold tapped a ball into the infield, then legged it out in a sheer hustling effort. Avery Townsend followed with a walk. Mongold, however, was tagged out on a double steal to take away the lead runner. Williams then did what great pitchers do when against the wall. She found a way to make the pitches she needed and also relied on a bit of luck.
Williams got the last two batters out to end the game.
On Saturday, Tucker County eliminated the Wildcats from sectional play with a 9-0 victory. Allie Vance pitched a complete game, allowing four earned runs and striking out three Mountain Lions.
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