By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
James Monroe has had a lock on Class AA Region 3, Section 2 softball for quite some time and Tuesday night the Lady Mavericks took their first step toward defending their title.
Rebecca Ratliff and Mikayla Wickline combined to toss a one-hitter as the Mavs shut out Bluefield 13-0, ending the Beavers’ season. Bluefield earlier in the evening lost 10-0 to PikeView, who will now play James Monroe in essentially a best of three series for the right to advance to regional play.
James Monroe coach Greg Wickline talked about his pitchers.
“She (Ratliff) really came around today. We have been working with her a little bit. She’s been struggling a little but she worked a few things out and she pitched really well today, had good movement on the ball and pitched really well,” Wickline said. “Mikayla, she’s coming back from an injury, this is her first game back and we thought maybe we’d test the waters and see what it’s going to be like tomorrow, because we’ve got a couple of tough games coming up against PikeView.”
Ratliff came out smoking for James Monroe as she retired the first nine Beavers she faced, six of them via strikeout. Meanwhile at the plate James Monroe struck early against the Beavers and pitcher Caitlyn Lucado.
Bailee Jackson led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on an error to give James Monroe a 1-0 lead after one.
In the second the Mavericks sent 10 batters to the plate and broke the game open. Ratliff, Kelsie Gillespie, Haileah Pickles, Jackson, Megan Bailey all singled and eventually scored, Jackson and Bailey racing home on Hillary Hersman’s inside-the-park home run. Jenna Hancock also picked up a hit in the second. When the third out was finally recorded, due to a baserunner leaving base early, James Monroe had recorded five runs on six hits to take a 7-0 lead.
The Mavericks continued their run production in the third, the big hit a double by Bailey, helping plate four more runs and give James Monroe a 10-0 lead.
Bluefield got its first hit and first baserunner in the fourth as Kaitlin Thompson led off the frame with a smash too hot for Bailey to handle at third. Thompson made it all the way to third, but was out in a rundown between home and third on a grounder hit by Brianna Edwards.
Two Bluefield errors and a dropped third strike helped James Monroe tack a three on the board in the fourth, their final runs of the game.
Wickline took to the mound in the seventh and struck out two of the three Lady Beavers she faced to end the game.
Jackson, Hersman and Gillespie each had a pair of hits to lead James Monroe.
Ratliff got the win and Lucado suffered the loss in the five inning game shortened by the 10-run mercy rule.
Bluefield coach James Baylor said his young team grew as the season progressed. With only two seniors, Merceda Lee and Thompson, on the roster, Baylor views this season as a starting point.
“People look at us and say ‘You’ve got the basketball team that does well at Bluefield High, you’ve got the football team, what’s happening with softball?’ Everything has a beginning and hopefully this is our beginning where we can get a nucleus and teach the kids to play ball. Situation awareness is a big thing,” Baylor said. “They’ve progressed a lot. The teams that we played, PikeView and James Monroe are well coached teams, very good teams and I think with the people we have coming back and hopefully if we can get some of the other athletes at Bluefield High School, we will continue to grow the program.”
Bluefield finished the season with a 4-17 record.
Wickline will be squaring off against a PikeView in what could be called a family feud.
“Coach Compton is my cousin and he and I are a lot alike, like to bunt, slap, put the pressure on the defense, so we just have to be ready for it,” Wickline said. “He does a really good job with his girls. We just have to be ready. If the balls fall the wrong way, we’re in trouble. It should be a couple of good ball games.”
Game time is 5:30 at James Monroe High School.
PikeView 10, Bluefield 0
In the opening game of the sectional playoffs the PikeView Lady Panthers rolled to a victory over Bluefield.
A trio of PikeView pitchers, Haleigh Compton, Samantha Meadows and Kristen Worrell combined for the four-hit shutout.
Brooke Baker, Lyndsay Hatfield and Worrell each had a pair of hits for PikeView, who got 11 hits off Lucado.
PikeView head coach Steve Compton said, “We played well. When we needed to make a play, we made a play. When we needed a hit or a bunt we did what we needed to do. Our pitching was really well. We started out with Haleigh, she pitched two (innings). Her arm has been bothering her a little bit, we just let her pitch a couple of innings, then we brought in Sam (Meadows) who did an exceptional job, and then Kristen (Worrell) did a really good job.”
James Monroe took both games from PikeView during the regular season, 6-0 and 3-2, and the teams are coached by cousins and both teams have a lot of respect for each other.
“We lost here in the opening game of the season and then when they came to PikeView we had runners on second and third in the bottom of the seventh, so we played them well,” Compton said. “They’ve got some really good pitching. They’re a tremendous team all the way around. In order for us to do something we have got to play a solid game all around. We can’t give them nothing. We can’t give them nothing. It should be a good game.”
Bluefield............................................000 00 — 0 4 2
PikeView............................................131 41 — 10 11 0
Compton, Meadows (3), Worrell (5) and Coalson. Lucado and Morris.
Bluefield..........................................000 00 — 0 1 7
James Monroe................................154 3x — 13 10 0
Ratliff, Wickline (5) and Gillespie. Lucado and Morris.