VIENNA, W.Va. — Having won consecutive Class AA state championships, Herbert Hoover is plenty familiar with what it takes to be successful in the state tournament.
Still, the Huskies’ offense was limited throughout Wednesday’s contest against Independence at Jackson Memorial Park. Fortunately for Hoover, it has pitcher Delani Buckner to fall back on.
Buckner dazzled throughout nine scoreless innings and Taylor Carpenter hit a walk-off single up the middle to lift the Huskies to a 1-0 win in nine innings over the Patriots.
Carpenter’s two-out single off Savannah Bragg scored Caroline Woody, who had singled with one out and moved to second on a successful sacrifice.
“I just knew I needed to get her in no matter what,” Carpenter said. “The first strike called made me a little upset because I didn’t think I could hit that, but then I swung and was just hoping it would go through.
“When it did, I knew Caroline was going to score.”
Independence (25-9) squandered a prime scoring opportunity in a scoreless game in the seventh inning.
Riley Adkins led off with a single and was eventually at third with no outs following an error. But Adkins had too big of a lead off the third base bag and was thrown out by catcher Jessica Canterbury for the first out of the inning.
The Patriots never recovered offensively as Buckner allowed only six hits and struck out 13 in the dominant showing that allowed her team to improve to 32-1.
“I’m so grateful for her being on our team,” Carpenter said of Buckner.
Bragg was equally impressive in defeat, allowing seven hits and recording seven strikeouts over 8 2/3 innings.
The win allows Hoover to face Petersburg in a winner’s bracket game later Thursday, while Independence will look to avoid elimination against Nitro.
PETERSBURG 1, Nitro 0: The Vikings (31-3) got all the offense they’d need in the first inning thanks to a strong pitching performance from Carly Cooper.
Cooper held Nitro (27-9) without a hit until the sixth inning and escaped trouble in the seventh to throw a complete game shutout. She struck out 15 batters, including at least two in each of the first six innings, while alllowing only two hits.
“I went on the outside corner a lot,” Cooper said. “My screwball is my best pitch and my strikeout pitch.”
Cooper managed to do it all while battling heat exhaustion.
“I was having a hard time breathing, but I got my inhaler and got through it,” she said. “We haven’t played in this (heat) and I was hot and I have asthma.”
Although the Wildcats had runners on first and second following a single and walk in the seventh, Cooper buckled down and got Kerigan Moore to groundout to first on a bunt for the final out.
Katie Koontz and Cooper each singled in the first inning, which combined with a Wildcats’ error allowed the Vikings to score the game’s only run.
Nitro pitcher Bella Savilla did not allow a hit beyond the second inning and yielded only three in the game.
Savilla retired the final 16 batters she faced and struck out 10 in defeat.