Lindside – No doubt this has been a banner year for the ladies from Greenbrier West.
After earning a berth in the volleyball state tournament back in the fall, the ladies from Charmco secured a spot in the girls state basketball tournament over the winter for the first time since 1987.
Thursday night the Lady Cavaliers capped the trifecta on the softball diamond.
Doing all of its damage over the final four innings, Greenbrier West beat James Monroe 9-3 to capture the Region 3 title and earn a berth in the state softball tournament.
“I am relieved because we felt like we had the team to do it. All year they have never got down and always believed in themselves,” Greenbrier West head coach Tony Hinkle said. “They are just a great bunch of girls. I have been doing this for 19 years and this is probably the coolest high school team I have coached because they love each other so much.”
While the visitors eventually heated up, it was their ability to survive the early innings that created the opportunities in the later innings.
Following back-to-back doubles from Chloe Bert and Shailyn Wickline for a quick 1-0 lead, the home team could not find the timely hit it needed to open a sizeable advantage.
“They had their opportunities early and could have easily went up three or four runs, but they didn’t,” Hinkle said. “It seems like here lately that we have been waiting until the fifth or sixth inning before we get going.”
Over the first three innings, James Monroe stranded seven runners, which included leaving the sacks juiced in the second frame.
“It was key. Something we are really good at is getting bunts down and we didn’t tonight. That along with not getting timely hits, made it a struggle tonight,” James Monroe head coach Greg Wickline said. “Against a good team, you have to get a timely hit or two. For us, we have to get a bunt down and try to make some things happen.”
Brilee Redden was thrust into the circle for the second night in a row. This time it was somewhat unexpected.
“We really weren’t going to pitch Brilee. We wanted to pitch Michaela (Alley), but she had the stomach virus. She has been sick for the last two days and couldn’t even dress,” Hinkle said. “We wanted to give Brilee a rest day in case we had to play tomorrow, but it worked out. Brilee is a battler.”
The freshman hurler bent at times, but never really broke, coming up big when it mattered, especially in the early innings.
“It wasn’t easy because they had seen me before and they knew what I pitched. I just had to hit my spots and do my best,” Redden said. “I knew they were going to hit the ball tonight. It happens. I was just thinking in my head that I had to make some good pitches. I dug myself out those holes and my defense really helped me tonight.”
Greenbrier West took its first lead in the fourth inning on a two-out single from Hannah Sweet that scored two runs.
“The bottom of the order really came through tonight,” Hinkle said. “It seemed like the bottom four really battled and they were getting on base all of the time.”
The Cavaliers then used their fifth inning magic to score four more runs for some breathing room. The key hit in the inning came from junior catcher Julia Herndon that drove in a pair of runs.
“I have to give Julia credit. She has been our rock behind the plate all year. She does an excellent job framing pitches and blocking the ball,” Hinkle said. “The pitchers love her. It means a lot when they know they can throw a ball in the dirt. She had a a couple of hits tonight and two last night.”
An error in the bottom of the fifth innings allowed two runs to cross for the Mavericks, but the home team could get no closer.
Brooke Patterson, hitting in the nine-spot, started a three-run inning with a single, followed by infield singles from Maddie Fields and Redden to load the bases.
A single from Preslee Treadway scored one run and when the ball got away on the throw to third base, Fields raced home with the second run of the seventh inning.
A sacrifice fly from Desteney Walker for her second RBI of the night made it 9-3 heading to the bottom of the inning.
James Monroe started with back-to-back singles, but once again, Redden was up to the challenge. Two ground ball outs and her 10th strikeout of the night secured the Region 3 title.
The state softball tournament will be played at Little Creek Park in South Charleston, May 24-25.
“We are going to go down there and try to do a little damage, but we are going to have a good time,” Hinkle said. “These girls have worked hard all year.”