Grim’s walk-off single lifts Hawks over Rams

Skyline's Emma Benson makes contact on a bunt during fifth inning action against Strasburg Monday evening in Front Royal. Skyline won, 1-0. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Alexis Grim picked a perfect time to come out of a slump.

The Skyline senior hit an RBI walk-off single to give the Hawks a 1-0 victory over Strasburg on Monday in non-district softball action.

“I’ve really been struggling,” Grim said. “So I really told myself I was going to go up there and get the hit I needed for my team.”

The Hawks stranded 10 runners in the first six innings before finally scoring in the bottom of the seventh.

Skyline’s Emma Benson reached base on an error and Rachel Sirbaugh drew a walk from Strasburg pitcher Natalie Hott to start the seventh. Benson was forced out at third on a grounder by Lexi Clatterbuck. Tamara Grayson then singled to load the bases once again.

Strasburg's Delaney Stickley can't quite reach this throw in time as Skyline's Abegail Lee manages to reach first base off a third inning bunt Monday evening in Front Royal. Rich Cooley/Daily

Grim followed with a single down the first-base line to score Sirbaugh and give Skyline the victory.

“I really went up there with the positive attitude that I needed to hit the ball because this is our last opportunity,” Grim said. “So I really wanted to go up there and make an impact.”

Skyline had a scoring opportunity in the bottom of the first. Abegail Lee led off with a bunt single off Strasburg starting pitcher Natalie Hott.

With two outs, Clatterbuck doubled to put runners at second and third. Hott struck out Grayson to end the inning.

“She’s throwing the ball well, keeping them off balance,” Strasburg coach Suzanne Mathias said of Hott. “She’s moving it around. I can’t ask for anything more. She’s doing her job as a pitcher. So we just got to get rid of the one or two mental lapses and back her up all the way.”

In the top of the second, Hott led off with a double to left field. Grayson pitched her way out of it by striking out Morgan Richards and Delainey Stickley and inducing a pop out by Camerin Alsberry.

Grayson finished with nine strikeouts and allowed just two hits in the game.

“(Grayson) pitched a great game,” Skyline coach John Ritter said. “She had a lot of strikeouts. She pitched really well.”

Skyline (11-3) had a perfect scoring opportunity in the bottom of the fourth but again came up empty-handed. Clatterbuck singled and Grayson was hit by a pitch from Hott. Grim reached base on a bunt single to load the bases with no outs.

Hott was able to get out of the jam as Olivia Heflin popped out and Valarie Martin flied out. Martin was then forced out at second on a ground ball hit by Alana Smith to end the inning.

It was deja-vu in the bottom of the fifth for Skyline. Lee reached on a three-base error. Benson then reached on an infield single, with Lee holding at third base. Sirbaugh drew a walk to load the bases with no outs.

“There were a lot of positives from the game. There were a couple of innings there that they could have easily opened it up and we played good defense,” Mathias said. “Now it’s just putting it all together. Get in the (batter’s) box and be confident. If they’re throwing you a first-pitch strike every single time jump on the thing and hit it. I’m not sure why we’re not confident with that, because we’ve made solid contact all season.”

Hott allowed nine hits and struck out two in taking the loss.

Lee, Clatterbuck, and Grim each had two hits for the Hawks.

Ritter said that he is happy with how his team is playing right now.

“I like where we’re at,” he said. “I wish we were hitting a little bit better. We’ve struggled at the plate the last three games, but it’s coming. Hopefully, their bats will wake up here this week.”