NITRO, W.Va. — A big start for a grand finish.
The Point Pleasant softball team built a 4-2 lead after the first inning and led wire-to-wire on Wednesday night while claiming an 8-5 victory over host Nitro in a non-conference matchup in Kanawha County.
The visiting Lady Knights (3-1) held three different four-run advantages over the course of the game, all of which came through the first four innings of play.
Point led 6-2 midway through the third and were up 8-4 by the middle of the fourth, but the previously unbeaten Lady Wildcats (6-1) countered with a final score in the home half of the fourth to close to within three runs.
Neither team mustered another run over the final three frames, allowing PPHS to secure not only its first road triumph of the year — but also its first winning streak this spring.
Peyton Jordan led things off with a single, then advanced to third on a pair of stolen bases while Hayley Keefer reached safely following a dropped third strike.
With runners on the corners and one away, Emma Harbour delivered a single that plated Jordan while advancing Keefer to third for a quick 1-0 advantage.
Rylee Cochran followed with a single that allowed Keefer to score for a 2-0 edge, and Harbour moved up to second in the process.
Madilyn Keefer followed with a walk that loaded the bases, then Harbour came home for a three-run cushion following a walk to Julia Parsons. Amber Hatfield then reached safely on an infield error that allowed Cochran to score for a 4-0 lead.
NHS countered in its half of the first with a two-out, two-run homer to centerfield by Bella Savilla, cutting the deficit in half at 4-2 through one complete.
After a scoreless second, Cochran started the third with a double and Madilyn Keefer walked to put runners at first and second. Point’s next two batters struck out, but nine-hole hitter Haley Bryant reached safely on an error as Cochran came home for a 5-2 edge.
Jordan singled in the next at-bat while knocking in Madilyn Keefer, allowing the guests to secure a 6-2 cushion after two-and-a-half innings of play.
Morgan Burdette singled and stole two bases, then came around to score on a one-out single by Lena Elkins. Elkins later scored on a two-out double by Sydni Cawley while again cutting the lead down to two at 6-4.
The Lady Knights added their final runs of the evening in the fourth as Parsons provided a two-out double to right-center that allowed both Harbour and Madilyn Keefer to come plateward — making it an 8-4 contest.
Elkins delivered a two-out single in the bottom of the fourth that allowed Carli Miller to score, ultimately wrapping up the 8-5 outcome.
Point left a runner stranded at third in the fifth and another at first in the sixth before going down in order in the top of the seventh. Nitro, conversely, left a runner at first base in both the fifth and seventh frames.
PPHS outhit the hosts by a slim 9-8 overall margin, with Nitro also committing all two errors in the contest. The Lady Wildcats stranded nine runners on base, while the guests left eight on the bags.
Madilyn Keefer was the winning pitcher of record after allowing four earned runs, six hits and a walk over three innings. Kit Stroud also allowed one earned run, two hits and a two walks over four innings of relief while fanning two.
Savilla took the loss after surrendering eight runs (six earned), nine hits and five walks over seven frames while striking out 11.
Harbour led the Lady Knights with three hits, followed by Jordan and Cochran with two safeties apiece. Parsons and Bryant also added a hit each to the winning cause.
Parsons posted a team-best three RBIs, while Harbour, Cochran and Madilyn Keefer each scored twice for Point Pleasant.
Elkins and Cawley paced Nitro with three hits apiece, with Savilla and Hailey Harr also adding a hit each. Elkins and Savilla also drove in two RBIs apiece.
Point Pleasant hosted River Valley on Thursday night and returns to action Saturday when it welcomes both Eastern and Symmes Valley for a round-robin matchup starting at 3 p.m.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.