FRONT ROYAL — The Skyline Hawks avenged their earlier season loss to cross-town rival Warren County, combining timely hitting and capitalizing on several Wildcat errors to win both teams’ regular season finale 10-0.
The win was the Hawks seventh in a row and the victory snapped the Wildcats’ 16-game winning streak.
The Wildcats (17-2) will still be the 3B Region’s No. 1 seed in Thursday’s opening round of the playoffs, while the Hawks (15-5)
will be the No. 2 seed.
“It was senior night and the girls played great,” Skyline coach John Ritter said. “It’s a great momentum boost going into the playoffs. Warren is a good team, they were just a little off tonight.”
The Hawks took control early, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first, thanks to four Warren County errors.
The miscues included two infield errors, a dropped fly ball and an overthrow from the outfield.
Lexii Clatterbuck’s RBI single was the Hawks only hit in the inning.
“We hadn’t made four errors in a game all season, then we make four in one inning,” lamented Warren County coach Ted McDaniel. “But they were the better team tonight. We didn’t make the plays when we needed them tonight.”
The Wildcats had a shot to score in the top of the first as Morgan Coons and Jayda Saulsbury sandwiched singles around a fielders choice, but Skyline pitcher Emma Benson escaped the jam by striking out opposing pitcher and Wildcats clean-up hitter Elizabeth Keener and getting Sabrina Perea to fly out.
“Emma pitched a great game,” Ritter said. “She has pitched very well in our last five games.”
Benson allowed just four hits, three walks, and struck out two.
The Skyline defense was flawless, committing no errors and fielding several hard-hit balls and turning them into outs.
“The defense played very well and that’s great to see,” Ritter said. “They were more relaxed tonight. That was the difference. I’m pleased with where we are at.”
The Hawks added a pair of runs in the second to open a 5-0 lead as Valerie Martin started the uprising with a lead-off double.
Abbey Lee followed with a single one out later and Benson’s deep fly to center scored Martin from third.
Senior catcher Rachel Sirbaugh then ripped an RBI double to right center.
Sirbaugh led the Hawks with a 3-for-4 night at the plate.
“This win was big. We made a huge statement,” Sirbaugh said. “The last time we played them we were tense and tight. Tonight we played our game and we beat them.”
The Hawks added two more runs in the fifth off Warren reliever Arianna Whited as Sirbaugh led off with a single, stole second and came around to score on Taylor Bowers single.
Bowers advanced to third on an overthrow from the outfield and then scored on another Wildcat error.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Hawks ended the game early by taking on three more runs.
Lee singled with one out and Sirbaugh added her third hit one out later.
With two outs, Clatterbuck ripped a 2-run double.
Bowers RBI single to right scored Clatterbuck to end the game.
“We knew coming in that the game tonight didn’t mean anything,” McDaniel said. “We just weren’t up for it. But we’re OK. It’s one of those times you are happy it happened now and not in the postseason. I told the girls we had a great season, we won 16 in a row and are the No. 1 seed in the region. We’ll be ready on Thursday. We were just due for a bad game. It just happens.”
The Wildcats and Hawks could possibly meet again in the regional finals if the rivals both win their first two games.
That contest would be at Warren County and for the regional championship, and both teams would qualify for the Class 3 state tournament.
The Hawks, who won the region last year and advanced to the semifinals of the state tournament seem to be peaking again just at the right time.
“This was our most solid game of the year,” Ritter said. “We have played well the past few weeks and we want to keep doing that and go deep in the playoffs.”