BROADWAY — Moments after the pitch landed well beyond the left-field fence, Bethany Martz rounded second base and came jogging toward third with a beaming grin.
“Let’s go,” Martz yelled as she slapped high-fives with Spotswood coach Brooke Hensley before heading home.
Martz’s solo homer in the seventh, paired with a two-run double from Elizabeth Blatz a couple of batters later, helped fifth-seeded Spotswood get just enough cushion to hold on for a 6-4 win over fourth-seeded Broadway in the Valley District softball quarterfinals at BHS on Tuesday.
The win means the Trailblazers will now advance to the district semifinals tonight to take on top-seeded Turner Ashby in Bridgewater. The Gobblers end their season with a 9-10 record.
“It was really exciting,” Martz said. “I was really excited myself. I knew the team needed it and it was my first home run, so it was kind of exciting.”
The game was a pitchers’ duel for most of the contest with a pair of sophomores in Spotswood’s Kaitlyn Fletcher and Broadway’s Grace Fravel both putting on strong performances in the circle.
In the seventh though, while holding a 3-2 lead, Martz broke it open by crushing a solo shot into deep left before Blatz eventually knocked a double into center that was just missed by BHS sophomore Aliza Lokey to bring home two more runs and give the Trailblazers a 6-2 advantage.
“We were ready since practice yesterday,” Martz said. “We came on the bus ready to go and we just came in ready. We thought it was like a new season. We wanted to start fresh and finish strong.”
The Trailblazers had defeated the Gobblers earlier this season for the first time since 2010, but played poorly in a performance at BHS toward the end of the year.
“We just sort of let it go,” Martz said. “We worked on it a lot in practice yesterday, knowing what their weaknesses were and what we needed to work on so we could keep our heads straight for the game.”
The two teams exchanged blows back and forth throughout the first few innings of Tuesday’s contest with Spotswood getting on the board first with an RBI grounder from Fletcher that brought home Emerson Adkins after a triple in her second at-bat.
After Broadway responded with a two-run homer from Alyssa Goodloe in the fourth to briefly take a 2-1 lead, Fletcher took matters into her own hands at the plate in the ensuing inning.
“I knew I had to stay up for the team,” Fletcher said. “I knew we had to play together and keep moving on. We just had to keep the energy up.”
In the ensuing frame, Nicole Workman reached on a throwing error and Emerson Adkins was hit by a pitch before Fletcher ripped a double deep into center to give the Trailblazers the 3-2 lead.
From there, Fletcher gave up just two hits over the next two innings, building confidence with each pitch she tossed as the game went along.
“That was huge,” Hensley said. “It just gave her the confidence needed. Sometimes when she’s struggling with the bat, she takes it to the field. It usually balances out well. I think it just gave her more confidence coming out that last inning, too.”
In the final frame, the Gobblers didn’t go down without a fight, using a two-out, two-run homer from Gretchen King to cut the deficit to 6-4.
Hannah Jenkins then grounded out to end the game in the ensuing at-bat, however, and allowed the SHS dugout to let out a sigh of relief.
“They’re a great team and they have a couple of great hitters,” Hensley said. “We knew [King] was one. … We knew we just needed one more out. [Fletcher] had pitched a heck of a game and somebody just needed to make a play.”
Despite the loss, Broadway coach Becky Cantrell was pleased with how her team fought to the end.
“We lost the game, but we played with more heart and desire tonight than a lot of games we’ve played this year,” Cantrell said. “I’m super proud of them for that. They never quit down to the last out. That’s all you can ask for kids to do.”
With only three seniors graduating — Goodloe, King and Holly Hughes — the Gobblers will return the core group of their talent from this season.
Cantrell said she’s seen growth from all of her players this season, but also said she has her sights set on her younger players taking the next step throughout the offseason and into next year.
“A lot of my kids matured this year,” Cantrell said. “We didn’t have an easy road from day one. They never let them stop them. You hate to see your season end early, but when it’s to a good team — Spotswood is a good team and they’re getting better — I don’t feel bad at all. I’m proud of my kids.”
For the Trailblazers (13-8), Fletcher finished 1-for-4 with a double and three RBIs, Adkins was 2-for-3 with a triple, Elizabeth Ritchie was 2-for-3 with a double and Blatz was 2-for-4 with a double and two RBIs.
For Broadway, King and Goodloe each had two-run homers, Fravel was 2-for-4 with a run scored and she also gave up six runs on eight hits while striking out nine.
“It’s great,” Hensley said. “I’m really excited for the kids. It’s been a long time. … I know the kids really wanted this and they wanted another shot at TA.”
That shot with the Knights — a team that defeated Spotswood both times in the regular season — will come today in Bridgewater at 5:30 p.m.
Before the Blazers shifted their focus, however, Martz flashed another smile as she talked about the team’s prospects moving forward.
“We’ve just got to keep this same energy moving forward,” Martz said. “We know we can do it.”
Spotswood 100 020 3—6 8 1
Broadway 000 200 2—4 8 1
WP—Fletcher. LP—Fravel. HR—Broadway: Goodloe, fourth, two on; King, seventh, two on.