RADFORD — There will be no repeat for Page County on the softball diamond this spring.
In a contest of familiar foes, a lot of blue and a similar stage, the outcome was different.
Five strikeouts from the arm of Sabrina Foltz was not enough as the Panthers fell to Richlands 2-0 on Thursday in the Virginia High School League Class 2 softball semifinals at Radford University.
“I’m disappointed and my girls are disappointed. You wanna win this game to get to the championship game and we didn’t,” said Page County skipper Alan Knight. “We, unfortunately, got beat today. We’re still one of four teams in the state tournament. We just came up a game short.”
The loss was measure of revenge for Richlands, which lost to the Panthers in last year’s Class 2 title game 3-0.
This time it was the Blue Tornado who scored first with Emma Crawford’s fifth-inning solo home run. But that wasn’t enough to bring down the Panthers’ spirits.
“1-0, you still gotta chance. 1-0 — yeah you figure you can score a run,” Knight said. “You still always got a shot.”
Until Crawford’s shot, two of the best pitchers in Class 2 shined bright as Richlands’ Mac Osborne and Foltz clashed.
Both hurlers faced the minimum in the first two frames.
It was Richlands first baseman Savannah Stevenson who broke up Foltz’s no-hitter in the third but was left stranded. The Panthers offense started banging on the door in the third as well. Foltz led off the inning as she reached on a Richlands error. Marissa Monger reached on an infield single before Brooklynn Fridley reached on a fielder’s choice. On Fridley’s fielder’s choice, Foltz was retired via the force on a heads-up play from Ally Staten for the second out of the inning.
Osborne buckled down to get the Blues out of the jam in a ballgame that remained scoreless.
Richlands’ junior ace would work out of a jam once again in the fourth with Panther runners on second and third as her defense recorded back to back outs before Osborne slammed the door with one of her 13 strikeouts.
“She did a nice job. She did a nice job on a couple key occasions we had a chance to score a run and she shut us down,” Knight said. “She didn’t let us score.”
On a familiar stage, Osborne had the experience to know how to combat adversity.
“I’ve learned to just let it go. Flush it down the drain, just keep playing, next batter,” she said. “It doesn’t matter how many people are on because I am just going to focus on getting the next batter for our team.”
After Crawford’s slam in the fifth, Osborne took to the circle with a 1-0 lead and retired the Page County side in order.
Just like her counterpart, Foltz — the Region 2B Player of the Year — came out throwing darts to retire Richlands in order in the sixth to keep Page’s hopes high when all the momentum seemed to be in the opposing dugout.
“It’s not over,” said Foltz on her approach after the Blue Tornado home run. “We gotta come back and score a run, too.”
However, the defending state champions could not muster anything in the sixth.
Richlands kept the foot on the throttle as Ginger Shortt hit a one out double in the seventh before Alyssa Lee came in to pinch run for the Blue Tornado right fielder.
After Crawford walked, Richlands had two runners on with two outs when Staten strolled to the dish.
The lone Richlands senior sent a laser into the outfield to score Lee from second to put the Blue Tornado advantage at 2-0.
Osborne fanned two of the final three batters to push her season K total to 300 and to punch Richlands ticket to the state finals for the third consecutive season.
“[This feels] probably better than it has the past two years in the state semis, especially where they beat us in the finals last year,” Osborne said. “We just came out and showed them who we are.”
Richlands faces Madison County today at 9 a.m. in the Class 2 title game.
Page County finished its season with a 22-6 record, ending Foltz’s stellar career.
“I wish it wasn’t over,” she said. “We have been in the same spot three out of four years. We put in a lot of work. I just wish it paid off today.”