SAC Softball

Mountie SB wins SAC thriller in 1-0 win over Stars


DOVER — A single to right field in the seventh inning off the bat of Elizabeth Conkright drove in the only run of the game as Southmont’s softball team kept a firm grip on second place in the Sagamore Conference race with a 1-0 win over Western Boone.

Conkright’s poke to right-center, on an 0-2 count, drove in courtesy runner Cheyenne Shaw with the only, and winning, run as the Mounties run their season record to 14-4 and 9-3 in the conference.

Shaw went to second base in the top of the seventh as a courtesy runner for Macie Shirk, who led off the inning with a double to center.

She got to third when South cleanup hitter Chelsea Veatch, the second-leading hitter in the conference, laid a textbook bunt down the first base line.

Conkright came to the plate and the senior first baseman, looking for her first hit of the game, took a called strike that was universally disliked by the Mounties’ partisans, and then fouled off a pitch.

The third pitch was universally liked by those fans, as she laced a solid single to right-center that got Shaw home. It might have been her 18th RBI of the season, but there have been few bigger.

The run in the seventh capped a pitcher’s duel for six innings between two of the Sagamore’s finest.

Gabby Lewis, the Stars sophomore, and Shirk, the South senior, rank in the Top 10 in wins, earned runs allowed and strikeouts. The duo kept the other team at bay for six quick innings.

Lewis allowed only two Hanna Nichols hits until the two in the seventh. She struck out six and walked none.

Shirk had a tougher road to hoe, as she faced baserunners in six of seven innings worked. WeBo got the leadoff runner on four times, but got only one runner to third as Shirk and her defense worked out of trouble. She finished with nine strikeouts, and after walking the first two hitters she faced, did not walk another.

“What a great softball game to watch,” South coach Dad Taylor said. “Both pitchers threw well enough to win, but in the seventh, two of our seniors led the way to get us a run in a game where there weren’t many opportunities. Macie made some very good pitches on key WeBo hitters, and she just got stronger as she went. Our defense made some good plays and was solid. Nine strikeouts always makes a defense a little better.”

The Stars fall to 11-10 overall and 7-6 in the league.

Coach Mike Vanderpool pointed to the eight runners that his Stars left on base.

“Gabby (Lewis) was phenomenal,” he said. “We just didn’t support her with some runs. We just gotta hit it better in key spots - put the ball in play. Southmont is a really good team. They hit really well and have a great pitcher, but our pitcher threw well enough to win also. It was a really good game between two good teams.”

The Stars finished with five hits, but were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

The game Monday is just the tip of what could be a three-game iceberg between the Sagamore foes.

They play tonight in the second game of the conference schedule at Southmont, but there is a chance of a sectional matchup.

“I’d love to play South in the sectionals,” Vanderpool said, “because that means we are both in the championship game.”

Taylor also noted the game down the road, and tipped his hat back to the Stars.

“This is a team that has won sectionals, regionals and played in semistate,” he said. “Any time we can beat WeBo is a great win, because we have the greatest respect for them. It took our best effort tonight to get a 1-0 win. This team is collectively confident, and that was a big reason we won. We didn’t get rattled.”

First pitch tonight is scheduled for 5:30. The 2A Sectional 38 tourney starts May 23.

It is being played at Southmont.