By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL -- It was just another typical Skyline-Warren County softball game.
Like so many in the past, Tuesday's cross-town clash between the Hawks and the Wildcats came down to that one big hit late in the game. This time it was Skyline pitcher Sarah Beamer who came through in the clutch to lift the Hawks to a 1-0 non-district win over the Wildcats.
"Every game we play against them, it's always like one run, and whoever hits the ball more and gets the defensive outs," Beamer said of the rivalry. "You grow up playing with a lot of them. It's always fun to have a little cross-town rivalry game against them."
Warren County coach Justin Stock said he believes in the 14 meetings between the two schools, that 10 of the contests have been one-run games.
Beamer also was stellar in the circle, throwing a one-hitter for the Hawks.
Beamer's big hit came in the top of the sixth inning. With one out, Skyline's leadoff hitter Michaela Craig got her second single of the night off of Warren County starter Paige McLachlan.
Skyline's Hannah Ritter laid down a bunt, but the Wildcats made a good defensive play and forced Craig out at second. Beamer then came to the plate, having gone 0-for-2 in her first two at-bats. She drilled a double into left field to score Ritter with the game's only run.
"I kind of adjusted to her, the more at-bats I got," Beamer said. "My first two at-bats I struck out and I hit a pop fly, so I was just going up there to hit the ball and to get on base."
Skyline coach Frank Nelson said he had moved Craig to the top of the order, looking to shake things up, and it paid off against the Wildcats (7-8, 0-3 Evergreen).
"She showed that she probably ought to be at the No. 1 position from now on," Nelson said of Craig.
Despite a constant drizzle, both Beamer and McLachlan looked sharp throughout the game.
Beamer struck out six, and yielded only a single to Warren County's Cassie Green in the fifth inning. She said she was happy with how she pitched, especially given the conditions.
"Between me releasing [the ball] and if it was like a bunt [the ball] would just be soaking wet," Beamer said. "I just had to throw the ball as easy as possible. You don't really play in the rain that much. You just have to go with your conditions."
McLachlan struck out seven and allowed only four hits in taking the defeat.
The Warren County sophomore said she loves to play in close games, especially against Skyline.
"I really like playing Skyline in any sport because they are our rivals, and you know a lot of the players and most of them are friends," McLachlan said. "It's always just fun to play against them."
The Wildcats have lost six games this season by one run, and Stock said the team just needs to find a way to get the clutch hits.
"We've been battling and we've been right there," Stock said. "We know we can compete with anybody. It's just getting enough offense through to put us over the hump."
The Hawks (12-4, 6-1 Northwestern) are in first place in the Northwestern District with another game with rival Sherando next week.
Beamer said the team is jelling more and more as the season goes on.
"The more games we play, the more we just kind of mesh together and we feed off one another," Beamer said. "If one girls gets on base, you know the next girl knows she has to hit the ball and get on base."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org