By Jeff Nations - firstname.lastname@example.org
WOODSTOCK -- You'd think Sarah Beamer and her Skyline teammates had other plans or something on Saturday at the inaugural Harry Combs Softball Classic.
If so, they left ample time to enjoy the rest of a sunny day after dispatching two rivals on the way to winning the championship.
After opening with a mercy rule-shortened 15-2 win over East Hardy (W.Va.) that took just four innings, the Hawks locked up the championship with another breezy five-inning win by thumping Harrisonburg 12-0 in the title game.
Beamer pitched all nine innings for a pair of wins, allowing only five hits and two runs combined in the back-to-back wins.
"We were just determined to come here and win the tournament, and show everybody what we're truly made of," said Beamer, a junior.
Against the Blue Streaks in the championship, Skyline (4-3) struck early and often for the victory. Sabrie Neeb's two-run double in the top of the first inning staked the Hawks to a lead they'd hold the rest of the way.
After adding single runs in the second and third off RBI singles from Tara Robinson and Lauren Moore, Skyline got back to posting crooked numbers in the fourth. Hannah Ritter led off with a single and stole second base, then scored when Robinson reached on an error that spelled the end of the day for Harrisonburg starting pitcher Brooke Clem.
Robinson scored after Neeb's two-out single off Blue Streaks reliever Misha Whitley, and Taylor Henry followed by roping a single into left to score another run.
With plenty of run support for the second straight game, Beamer steadily mowed down Harrisonburg's lineup.
"I like the lead because we can just go out there and still have fun, not have to worry about things," Beamer said. "I think everything we do is good. We have a solid defense, and our hitting has been coming alive more."
That hitting showed up again in the top of the fifth, as the Hawks piled on five runs while sending nine batters to the plate with help from a pair of Blue Streaks errors. Beamer stroked an RBI double and Henry smashed a bases-clearing double to spark the rally.
"That's our goal, not to leave runners on base -- to score them," Beamer said.
Harrisonburg, which beat host Central in the opening round, produced its best scoring chance in the fifth. Pinch hitter Jasmine Purnell led off with a single, and one out later Whitley singled to put runners on first and second. Beamer wasn't ready to give up the shutout, as she struck out pinch hitter Attie Shepard and got Taelor Adams to ground out to end the game.
Henry finished with a pair of hits and four RBIs, and Neeb had two hits and two RBIs for the Hawks. Robinson and Ritter chipped in two hits each for Skyline.
Beamer, who didn't walk a batter and allowed just three hits, finished with five strikeouts.
In the opener against East Hardy, Valerie Hindley's fourth-inning grand slam was the big blow for the Hawks. Allison Funk was 3-for-4 and Henry went 2-for-4 to back Beamer, who struck out 10 batters and allowed solo home runs to the Cougars' Jade Foltz and Morgan Mongold.
Central (4-4) regrouped after losing 6-3 to the Blue Streaks in the opener to top East Hardy, 8-6, in the consolation game.
Mikayla Viar led the Falcons against Harrisonburg with a 3-for-4 effort and two RBIs.
Viar also played a key role in the victory over East Hardy, delivering a two-run double in the top of the fourth. Sydney Plum, who pitched five innings for the win, also had a run-scoring triple in that inning. Plum just missed hitting for the cycle against the Cougars, finishing with a double, a triple and a home run as part of a 3-for-4 day.
"We were glad to finish on a positive note for next week," Central coach Marty Bundrick said. "We didn't do too well the last game. Too many errors, so it was nice to came back with a win."