By Tommy Keeler Jr.
FRONT ROYAL -- The deck seemed to be stacked against Skyline.
The Hawks had been struggling at the plate their last couple games, and the trend had continued for the first five innings Tuesday night in the Region II softball quarterfinals. On top of that, the Hawks were playing Briar Woods, the team that had defeated them in regionals two of the last three years.
Trailing by two runs and down to their last six outs, the Hawks turned the tables on their rivals and rallied for a 3-2 victory. It was the first regional win in a team sport in school history.
"This is my third year, and every year I've been here we've made it to regionals, so it feels so good to actually win a regional game," Skyline senior Allison Funk said. "It really feels good as a senior. And all of us played hard as a team."
Skyline had only one hit entering the bottom of the sixth, an infield single by Hannah Ritter. Trailing 2-0, Ritter got things started again as she reached on an error. Skyline senior Sarah Beamer followed with a hit, which brought up freshman Tori Jo Brown.
Ritter and Beamer each stole a base to put both runners in scoring position against Briar Woods reliever Kayla Brennan.
Brown drilled a ball down the right-field line for a two-run triple to tie the game 2-2.
"I wasn't hitting the ball today, and I haven't been hitting it very well in practices lately," Brown said. "I just knew it was my time to hit. She gave me an inside pitch and I love to turn on those -- so that's what I did."
Brennan was taken out due to injury, and replaced by Briar Woods starter Madison Goodman.
Funk then singled to bring in Brown with the game-winning run.
"Obviously Tori Jo got that really good hit and I knew that all I had to do was get a single and Tori Jo would get home," Funk said. "So I kept in mind the things I needed to do at the plate. Honestly, I don't even remember hitting it. It was just like it came natural. I just saw the pitch and swung as hard as I could and it ended up working out."
Briar Woods scored a run in the top of the second, aided by a double from Alexa Binckes and a bunt single by Goodman.
In the top of the fourth, the Falcons used small ball to generate another run. Binckes drew a walk from Beamer. A sac bunt and a groundout moved pinch-runner Caylee Goad to third. A passed ball then scored Goad for a 2-0 lead.
Beamer said it helped her team that they had come from behind several times this season.
"We're a team that comes back late in the innings," Beamer said. "We're used to the pressure of being down by a few and having to come back."
Beamer struck out eight, and allowed only six hits in the game. The four-year starter said it felt really sweet to beat the Falcons.
"I just went out there determined to win," Beamer said. "This is my third time playing them, and it was time to beat them. It feels great."
The Hawks are now a win away from a first-ever state berth. Skyline will play at Powhatan on Thursday. Powhatan defeated Warren County, 3-2, in the quarterfinals.
The team is confident about their chances.
"I'm really excited," Funk said. "After a win like this, it really gives us the motivation to go Thursday and kill it. I think we can."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or firstname.lastname@example.org