Midland wins a classic
SPRING VALLEY — Just how wild was Thursday night’s finale in the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 4 softball championship between Cabell Midland and Spring Valley?
The game featured six home runs — five coming off the bats of Spring Valley players — but it was the Knights who used a two-run double by Mandi King in the top of the ninth inning to earn an 11-9 win and the Section 4 crown.
“Wow! I don’t know if I’ve ever been a part of a game like that,” Cabell Midland coach Jeanne Lunsford said. “They are a great hitting ball club and they hit five home runs, but we won. That says something about our team right there. I’ve been proud of girls and teams before, but this is one of the top because they didn’t give up or get their heads down.”
King’s two-run double in the top of the ninth was her fifth hit of the game. She finished 5-for-6 with four RBIs for the Knights, who will host Lincoln County in Thursday’s Class AAA, Region IV semifinal.
In a game filled with theatrics, Cabell Midland freshman Olivia Canterbury came back in the pitching circle and shut the door in the bottom of the ninth to seal the win.
Prior to King’s game-winning hit, the Knights got their biggest play of the year from center-fielder Jordan Colliflower, who robbed Haleigh Christopher of a game-winning hit to end the bottom of the eighth inning.
Cabell Midland led 9-6 going into the bottom of the eighth, but McKenzie Acker cranked the Timberwolves’ fifth homer to cut the deficit before Jade Spurlock tied the game 9-9 with an RBI single.
Christopher then crushed a sinking line drive into the right-center field gap, but Colliflower laid out on a full sprint and dove head-long into the turf. The momentum of her dive caused her to land on her face and flip over, but she held the ball to essentially preserve the win for the Knights.
“That would’ve been the game right there if that would’ve fallen, and it feels good to stop it,” Colliflower said. “This is the top game we’ve ever played in for sure.”
Cabell Midland’s Abbie Tolbert was huge at the plate, finishing just a triple short of the cycle as she was 4-for-5 with five RBIs.
Tolbert’s two-run double in the eighth inning gave Cabell Midland its three-run lead before the Timberwolves’ comeback.
In the seventh, Tolbert had an RBI single that gave the Knights a 6-5 lead, but the top of the inning ended when Spurlock saved a pair of runs when she dove to her right and fully extended to stop Tori Adkins’ grounder before tagging third base with her glove for a force out.
Fittingly, Spurlock came up in the bottom of the seventh with one out and the Timberwolves still trailing by one and blasted a home run to right center to knot the game 6-6 and send it to extra innings.
“Jade knows her role,” Spring Valley coach Allison Hatfield said. “She’s going to have to be a bunter, she’s going to have to be a hitter, she’s going to have to be an anchor on that third base spot. She does that for me day in and day out.”
Cabell Midland used a two-run single by King in the fourth inning to take a 5-0 lead.
However, the Timberwolves used the long ball to crawl back into the contest.
Christopher hit a pair of home runs — her first opening the scoring for Spring Valley to cut the deficit to 5-2 before her solo shot in the sixth started a three-run rally to tie the game 5-5.
After Christopher’s second blast in the sixth, Taylor Brumfield launched a two-run bomb to straight-away center field.
“I’m extremely proud of my girls with the way they fought hard,” Hatfield said. “Every single one of them dug deep. They weren’t going down without a fight.”
Tolbert said despite the numerous comebacks by Spring Valley, Cabell Midland never wavered in its confidence.
“We were saying ‘Together’,” Tolbert said of the dugout talks. “In games we did lose, we were trying to be individuals. This time, we stayed together and we just tried to get hits because we trusted the person behind us to knock us in. We thought that together, we could do it. We could get this win.”
Cabell Midland gave itself momentum going into game two by earning a 6-2 win in the day’s first contest.
The game came down to execution with runners in scoring position. Cabell Midland was able to get the hits when needed while the Timberwolves struggled to push across runs.
Spring Valley jumped out to a 1-0 lead on Cassie Adkins’ RBI single, but a two-run single by Kati Kelley in the top of the fourth gave the Knights the lead for good.
A two-out rally produced three runs in the top of the fifth to help salt the game away for Cabell Midland. Erin Kaplan had a run-scoring single up the middle to push the lead to two runs before Alyssa Koontz followed with a two-run single to right field to make it 5-1 in the fifth.
It was all the run support that pitcher Jenna Marsh needed.
Makayla Waugh celebrated her birthday with a 3-for-3 performance in game one.
For Spring Valley, Acker had a home run in each game of the doubleheader while Brooke Jackson had two hits in each game. Spurlock and Christopher were both 3-for-5 in game two.
CABELL MIDLAND 000 230 1 — 6 12 0
SPRING VALLEY 100 010 0 — 2 5 4
Marsh and Koontz. Acker and Adkins.
Hitting: (CM) Colliflower 2-4; Waugh 3-3; Kaplan 2-3, RBI; Koontz 2-4, 2 RBIs; Kelley 2 RBIs. (SV) Jackson 2-3; Acker HR, RBI.
CABELL MIDLAND 020 300 132 — 11 17 3
SPRING VALLEY 000 203 130 — 9 11 3
Canterbury, Marsh (6), Shull (7), Canterbury (8) and Koontz. Acker, Phillips (2), Acker (6) and Adkins, Christopher (9).
Hitting: (CM) King 5-6, 2B, 4 RBIs; Tolbert 4-5, 2B, HR, 5 RBIs; Colliflower 3-5; Kaplan 2-5; Kelley RBI. (SV) Jackson 2-5; Spurlock 3-5, HR, 2 RBIs; Christopher 3-5, 2 HR, 3 RBIs; Brumfield HR, 2 RBIs; Acker HR, 2 RBIs.