OAK HILL, Ohio — It’s never over until its over.
The River Valley softball team rallied back from an early 6-1 deficit only to let a four-run lead slip away in the eighth, then plated two runs in the ninth to secure a wild 13-11 decision over host Oak Hill in a non-conference contest in Jackson County.
The Lady Raiders (2-1) fell behind 2-0 after one inning of play, but Ashley Gilmore walked and later scored on a fielder’s choice — allowing the guests to close to within 2-1 midway through the second.
The Lady Oaks (0-1), however, responded with four runs on four hits during the bottom half of the second — giving OHHS its largest lead of the night at 6-1.
Isabella Mershon delivered a two-out solo homer in the third to make it a 6-2 contest, then RVHS started the fourth with a single by Gilmore — who later scored on a single by Bailey Hollanbaugh. Hollanbaugh later scored on a ground out, allowing the Lady Raiders to close to within 6-4 through four complete.
Sydney Little doubled to start the top of the fifth and later scored on a single by Cori Williams, then Courtney Smith and Gilmore both reached safely on fielder’s choices — giving the guests runners on the corners with two outs.
Hollanbaugh lifted a bloop single between first base and shallow right field that allowed both Smith and Gilmore to score, giving River Valley its first lead of the night at 7-6 through five complete.
The score remained that way until the bottom of the sixth as OHHS produced back-to-back two-out hits from Mahayla Reese and Kelsey Sharp, which plated Reese for a seven-all contest.
Neither team scored in the seventh, but River Valley quickly took control in the top of the eighth after Little delivered an inside-the-park grand slam home run. Little’s two-out drive wedged between the leftfielder and centerfielder and rolled to the wall as Little raced all the way around the base path for an 11-7 cushion.
The Lady Oaks, however, closed to within 11-9 and had runners on the corners with two outs, but a simple ground ball back to the pitcher resulted in a dropped third out at first base. Oak Hill was able to score two more runs before the last out was made in the eighth, forcing things to the ninth frame.
Two OHHS errors and a hit ultimately allowed both Smith and Gilmore to come homeward with scores, giving RVHS a 13-11 edge headed into the home half of the ninth. Oak Hill managed to get the tying run to the plate, but ultimately came up short in its final rally attempt.
The Lady Oaks outhit the guests by a 14-10 overall margin, but also committed three of the five errors in the contest.
Gilmore was the winning pitcher of record after allowing 11 runs (eight earned), 14 hits and five walks over nine innings while striking out four. Morgan Crabtree suffered the loss after surrendering 13 runs, nine hits and four walks over eight innings while fanning six.
Little, Mershon, Gilmore and Hollanbaugh led RVHS with two hits apiece, followed by Williams and Cierra Roberts with a safety each.
Sharp paced Oak Hill with four hits, followed by Crabtree and Kaylee Potter with three safeties each. Reese also had two hits in the setback.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.