Wolver­ines’ bid to re­peat falls short


The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY DANIEL GALLEN daniel.gallen@wash­post.com

lynch­burg, va. — Down to her fi­nal strike, Alexa Dolby bat­tled, des­per­ately try­ing to keep Wood­grove’s sea­son alive against Car­roll County in the Vir­ginia 4A soft­ball state fi­nal. Cava­liers pitcher Syd­ney Nester had mowed through the Wolver­ines’ lineup all morn­ing, but Wood­grove had the ty­ing run at sec­ond.

The ju­nior out­fielder fouled one of Nester’s of­fer­ings straight back. Then, she got ahead of an off-speed pitch and lofted a soft foul ball up the third base line. But like she and her team­mates 12 times pre­vi­ously, Dolby could not solve Nester, and she watched strike three go by at her knees.

In a pitcher’s duel be­tween fresh­men, Car­roll County got the bet­ter of de­fend­ing state cham­pion Wood­grove, 1-0, to cap­ture its first state ti­tle Satur­day at Lib­erty Uni­ver­sity. Nester pitched a two-hit shutout, walk­ing none and strik­ing out 13 Wolver­ines on 86 pitches. She was per­fect un­til Tay­lor Kil­gour got Wood­grove’s first hit with two outs in the fifth.

When the Wolver­ines (25-3) beat the Cava­liers (26-1) for the Vir­ginia 4A North re­gion ti­tle last week, Car­roll County Coach Ricky Nester started a dif­fer­ent pitcher, not al­low­ing the Wood­grove hit­ters to get a look at his ace be­fore a po­ten­tial state fi­nal re­match.

“If we had seen her be­fore, I think it would have been a lit­tle bit of an ad­van­tage, but we’ve come out on top on girls we’ve never seen be­fore,” Kil­gour said. “I just think we didn’t jump on her at first, and we couldn’t string our hits to­gether.”

“If he wins, he’s a ge­nius,” Wood­grove Coach Joe Spicer said. “And he’s a ge­nius.”

An­other risky coach­ing de­ci­sion from Car­roll County led to the game’s lone run. The Cava­liers loaded the bases against Wood­grove fresh­man Cam­ryn Dolby with two outs in the fifth. While Dolby set up for her next pitch, Hannah Dal­ton strayed off sec­ond base, drawing the throw and get­ting into a pickle.

Car­roll County pinch run­ner Jean­nie Utt took off from third to home, scor­ing be­fore Wood­grove ended the in­ning. It was the first run sur­ren­dered by the Wolver­ines since their Con­fer­ence 21 semi­fi­nal win May 22.

Dolby strug­gled with com­mand early and al­lowed 10 hits and three walks. But she deftly es­caped trou­ble, strand­ing 11 Cava­liers and strik­ing out nine.

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