THE PLAINS, Ohio — A wild ride … with a heartbreaking ending.
The River Valley softball team produced 16 hits and an eight-run fourth inning, but host Athens ultimately used a two-run homer off the bat of Gracie Casto in the bottom of the sixth to hold on for a 15-14 victory Monday night in a Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division contest in Athens County.
The Lady Raiders (1-2, 0-2 TVC Ohio) fell behind 6-2 through three innings of play, but the guests sent a dozen batters to the plate in the top of the fourth — which yielded eight runs on seven hits and two errors while building a 10-6 cushion.
The Lady Bulldogs, however, countered with three runs in the home half of the fourth to close back to within a run through four full frames.
Skylar Jones belted a two-run homer to left-center in the top of the fifth as part of a three-run outburst by the Silver and Black, which extended the lead out to a 13-9. AHS countered with a four-run fifth to knot the game at 13-all.
After RVHS went scoreless in the top half of the sixth, Casto gave the Green and Gold a permanent lead with a two-run blast to center with one out in the frame. Through six complete, Athens held a 15-13 edge.
The Lady Raiders got a leadoff double from Cierra Roberts to start the seventh, then Airika Barr delivered a two-out single that plated Roberts as Kasey Birchfield advanced to second on the play.
The guests, however, left the tying run stranded at second as the next batter popped out to first, allowing Athens to wrap up the one-run decision.
River Valley outhit the hosts by a 16-9 overall margin, but also committed five of the eight errors in the contest.
Casto was the winning pitcher of record after allowing four runs, four hits and three walks over 3⅔ innings while striking out two. Barr suffered the setback after surrendering eight runs, three hits and 11 walks over four innings while fanning six.
Barr led the guests with four hits and Chloe Gee followed with three safeties. Roberts, Jones, Isabella Mershon and Sierra Somerville each provided two hits apiece, while Baylee Hollanbaugh also added a safety.
Hollanbaugh, Jones, Birchfield, Mershon and Somerville paced RVHS with two RBIs each. Roberts, Gee, Jones, Mershon, Somerville and Kaylee Tucker also scored two runs apiece in the setback.
Olivia Tenoglia led AHS with three hits. Casto also had two RBIs and two runs scored while producing two hits in the triumph.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.