FORT DEFIANCE, Va. —
The hard work of the Tazewell Lady Bulldogs paid dividends all year with success in the regular season and runner-up finishes in the Southwest District and Region IV tournaments.
Their quality of play pushed them into the Elite 8 of the Group AA state softball quarterfinals Tuesday taking on Fort Defiance.
Tazewell had a good effort against the Lady Indians, however, Fort Defiance also had a good effort in their pitcher, Megan Good. She allowed just two hits on the day while walking two and striking out 12, leading the Indians to a 6-0 win over the Bulldogs.
“Fort Defiance has a good ball club,” Tazewell head coach Tom Keene said. “I told our bunch just go out and do the best you can, you’ve made it to the Elite 8 and there’s 88 teams headed home. Now, we just have to go out and get ready for next year.”
Good struck out three Tazewell batters in order in the top of the first. Carli Hill singled to lead off the first for Fort Defiance because Tazewell pitcher, Brianna Sparks, threw out one batter at first, and then fanned two to erase the threat.
Good continued to keep Tazewell off balance until the top of the third inning when Savanna Miller got an infield single with one out on the side. The Indians attempted to make the throw to first and the miscommunication between the Fort Defiance infielders allowed Miller extra bases when the ball sailed into the outfield.
Pushing a close throw at home plate, Miller rounded third and ran for home, but had difficulty locating the plate covered in dust. The hesitation gave the relay time for Fort Defiance catcher Hannah Ward to make the tag and any momentum the Lady Bulldogs sought deflated, and Good struck out the next batter for the final out.
With only two hits in the game, the icy pitching duel continued in the bottom of the third when Sparks struck out Alexis Pullin, but Lindsey Meek drew a walk and Hill was hit by a pitch putting two runners on the sacks.
Amanda Coleman drove in Meek with a run-scoring single for the 1-0 lead.
That lead stood until the bottom of the fifth when Hill crushed a Tazewell offering over the left field fence to double the home team lead, and Good helped her cause with a blooper to right that fell just inside the right field stripe, and she hustled home for the inside-the-park home run.
Coleman also scored later in the third when Ward singled to center field giving Fort Defiance a 4-0 lead.
Tazewell put two runners on base in the top of the sixth on a two-out walk by Karlee Wasilewski and a standup double by Kayla McCroskey. Good got out of the jam with a strikeout for the third out of the frame.
The Lady Indians came to the plate in the bottom of the sixth and used a pair of Lady Bulldogs errors to get runners on base. Good popped a sacrifice fly for one more score before a passed ball accounted for the final run of the day.
Tazewell stranded one in the top of the seventh before their run came to a close.
“The Tazewell pitcher had our players guessing and she had more speed than I thought she was going to have,” Fort Defiance head coach Max Hill said. “When we scouted her, she was having trouble with her rise, but she didn’t have any trouble with it against us.”
“She just let one get up and Carli (Hill) was able to get a hold of it and Megan (Good) got that poke in the corner just curved and it gave her enough to get home. I felt bad for the pitcher (Sparks) because the way she as pitching that’s got to deflate a little bit, but, she battled back.”
Sparks finished with eight strikeouts and just two walks for the Lady Bulldogs with McCroskey and Miller getting the only hits on the day.
Hill led Fort Defiance at the plate going 3-for-3 with a solo home run and Meek scored twice.
The Lady Bulldogs conclude their season losing four seniors, including Sparks, McCroskey, Haley Bradshaw and Julianne Hart.
Fort Defiance will travel to play in Radford on Friday in the state quarterfinals.
At Fort Defiance High School
Tazewell...........................000 000 0 — 0 2 2
Fort Defiance..................001 032 x — 6 6 1
Brianna Sparks and Haley Bradshaw. Megan Good and Hannah Ward. W—Good; L—Sparks. HR—Good (5th, 0 on), Hill (5th, 0 on).