NITRO, W.Va. — A big step in the right direction.
The Point Pleasant softball team overcame a four-run deficit and secured a place in the winner’s bracket final on Wednesday night following a 10-8 victory over host Nitro in a Class AA Region IV, Section 1 contest in Kanawha County.
The third-seeded Lady Knights (18-6) overcame a slow start after falling into a 4-0 hole just two innings into regulation, but the guests rallied by scoring nine consecutive runs over the next three frames while building a five-run advantage.
The second-seeded Lady Wildcats (20-4), however, countered with four runs in the home half of sixth to close to within a run at 9-8. PPHS managed to tack on an insurance run in the seventh to wrap up the two-run outcome.
Nitro struck out the side in the top of the first, then Kerigan Moore received a leadoff walk in the home half of the frame. Moore advanced to second on a ground out, then came around to score on a single and one-base error that allowed Lydia Sweat to reach second.
Sweat moved to third on a wild pitch and later scored on a ground out by Hailey Harr, giving the hosts a 2-0 advantage through one inning of work.
Jordan Nelson and Logan Withrow received back-to-back one-out walks in the second, then Nelson advanced to third on a wild pitch that put runners at the corners.
Nelson came in to score on a ground out to first by McClung, and Withrow also moved to third on the play, as the Lady Wildcats led 3-0. Withrow later scored on a single by Moore for a 4-0 contest after two complete.
NHS, however, didn’t make its largest lead of the night last very long, as the guests found their offensive rhythm in the top of the third.
Izzy King doubled to lead the inning off, then Peyton Jordan followed with a single that put runners on the corners with two away. PPHS then executed a double steal that allowed King to score for a 4-1 contest.
Kelsie Byus then reached on a two-base error that brought Jordan homeward, cutting the deficit in half at 4-2.
Tanner King then ripped a double to left-center as Byus came plateward, followed by a Leah Cochran single that brought Monica Cook home for a four-all contest.
Tanner King gave PPHS a permanent lead in the fifth with a double that brought Jordan home for a 5-4 cushion, then both Byus and Cook scored on a single by Cochran en route to a 7-4 edge.
Kelsey Price followed with a double that brought home Amber Hatfield for an 8-4 lead, then Izzy King delivered a one-out single that plated Price for a 9-4 advantage midway through the fifth.
Nitro rallied in the home half of the sixth as Nelson doubled in Harr with one out in the inning, then Withrow smacked a single that plated both Caitlyn Harless and Nelson for a 9-7 deficit.
Withrow moved to second on a single by Brooklyn Hundley, which left the top of the order headed to the plate with one away.
Moore hit a ball hard to the left side of the infield, but Jordan made a diving snag at shortstop — then flipped the ball to second for a force.
With runners now at first and third with two away, Morgan Burdette followed by reaching safely on an error that plated Withrow for a 9-8 contest.
Moore and Burdette, however, ended up stranded at second and third as the next batter popped out to short, allowing the guests to take a one-run edge into the seventh.
With one away in the top half of the frame, Shala Swain belted a 1-2 offering over the left field fence — extending the Lady Knights’ lead out to 10-8.
A two-out walk and wild pitch allowed Harless to reach second in the bottom of the seventh, but a Nelson ground out ended both the rally bid and the game as the guests secured a two-run triumph.
The Lady Knights outhit the hosts by a sizable 14-6 overall margin, and both teams committed three errors apiece in the game. Nitro stranded five runners on base, while the PPHS left four on the bags.
Cochran was the winning pitcher of record after allowing four runs (two earned), five hits and two walks over 5⅔ innings while striking out six. Isabella Savilla took the loss after surrendering six earned runs, 14 hits and one walk over seven frames while fanning eight.
Izzy King led Point Pleasant with four hits, followed by Jordan, Cochran and Tanner King with two safeties apiece. Byus, Price, Swain and Hannah Smith also had a hit each in the triumph.
Cochran led the guests with three RBIs and Tanner King also drove in a pair of RBIs. Jordan, Byus and Cook each scored twice as well.
Nelson paced NHS with two hits, followed by Moore, Sweat, Withrow and Hundley with a safety apiece. Withrow drove in two RBIs and scored twice, while Nelson also scored two times in the setback.
Point Pleasant traveled to Poca on Thursday for the winner’s bracket final against the top-seeded Lady Dots, who defeated Wayne by a 2-1 count Wednesday in the other winner’s bracket semifinal.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.