Skyline advances on Dawkins’ homer

FRONT ROYAL – Makaela Dawkins’ game-winning home run was important to her for several reasons.

Her Skyline Hawks softball team claimed a 2-0 Conference 28 semifinal victory over William Monroe on Tuesday, which not only will send them to the championship conference game, but also usher them into the 3A regionals next week.

“She certainly got ahold of that one,” said Skyline coach John Ritter, who, in his first season as varsity coach, has led the Hawks to a 15-5 record.

His team will travel to top-seeded Brentsville for the Conference 28 championship on Thursday.

Dawkins, a multi-year starting shortstop, has hit four home runs in the last week. Tuesday’s, obviously, was the most important.

“It’s important for a lot of reasons,” Dawkins said.

Not only will she and fellow senior Tori Jo Brown “live another day” in the post-season, but her two-run bomb in the bottom of the sixth unofficially celebrated Skyline’s pink game to benefit the American Cancer society.

The girls and coaches wore the symbolic pink T-shirt and the stadium was wrapped in pink bunting.

It’s especially meaningful to Dawkins, who has suffered from cancer.

Dawkins said she contracted a rare form of juvenile cancer when she was 3 months old. After 16 months, the disease went into remission, and hasn’t returned.

Tuesday when she slammed William Monroe pitcher Jess Ford’s fastball over the left field fence, it was doubly satisfying, she said.

As part of the pink game, each girl on the team remembered a special friend or relative who had dealt with the disease. And each of the respondents were mentioned when their girls came to the plate.

When Dawkins got there in the sixth, teammate Rachel Sirbaugh had reached base on one of three errors the Dragons (13-7) had made. With one out, she drilled the pitch so deeply, there was no question it was a home run when the Hawk made contact.

Until that point, the teams were locked in a scoreless tie.

Monroe had an excellent opportunity to pursue a score in the top of the sixth. Lexi Lam singled through the shortstop hole and tried to take second. Alertly, Brown fired a perfect strike, which caught Lam off base for the out.

Tamara Grayson gave up just two hits for the win. She struck out three.

“She was really sharp today, placing her pitchers and working in a curve,” said Ritter.

The victory was the 12th straight for the Hawks, who last lost to Central 2-0 on April 11.

“The girls are only too quick to remind me of that,” said Ritter. “But it’s OK, let them have fun with it.”

William Monroe had won five straight coming into Tuesday’s game.