VIENNA, W.Va. — The pitching combination of Delani Buckner and Presley McGee has Herbert Hoover on the brink of its third straight Class AA championship.
Hours after an emotional and hard-fought 1-0 win over Independence in nine innings, things weren’t quite as difficult for the Huskies, who blanked Petersburg, 3-0 at Jackson Memorial Park.
“For us to have two pitchers like them, it’s such an amazing thing to understand that both of them are good and we can be good and still win,” Hoover coach Missy Smith said. “That’s important.”
The win means Hoover (33-1) needs only one more victory for its third straight AA title, while the Vikings (31-4) will take on Independence at 11 a.m. Thursday in an elimination game.
After Buckner pitched all nine innings of the earlier win Wednesday, McGee got the start against PHS.
She struck out six of the first nine batters she faced while retiring the Vikings in order each of the first three innings.
But Vikings’ pitcher Carly Cooper was also up to the task, striking out six and not allowing a hit through three innings as well.
Although Petersburg produced the game’s first hit in the fourth on a Katie Koontz single, McGee retired the next three batters.
Hoover then capitalized on a pair of Petersburg errors to score the game’s first run, with Buckner lifting a sacrficie fly to center to drive it in.
Two batters later, freshman Grayson Buckner gave Hoover more than enough cushion with a two-run home run.
“Grayson has done a good job all year. That’s not her first home run,” Smith said. “She sees the ball well. Every once in a while, she’ll get like a freshman, but she’s stepped up big for us.”
Although Petersburg had a pair of baserunners in the fifth, McGee struck out the side and then gave way to Delani Buckner. All she did was strike out the side in the sixth and seventh innings, issuing one base-on-balls along the way but keeping the Vikings off the scoreboard.
“Presley threw five shutout innings and she did a great job,” Smith said. “We knew when we went nine innings that Delanio was only going to have five, and we made the decision to start Presley. I was going to leave her in as long as she was throwing well and she threw five innings of great ball.”
Sixteen of the 21 outs Hoover recorded were by strikeout.
INDEPENDENCE 9, Nitro 1: The Patriots bounced back from a tough 1-0 loss to Hoover with a convincing victory to eliminate the Wildcats.
After its bats were held in check against the Huskies, Independence (26-9) got off to the start it desired against Nitro.
Nicole Kester connected for a leadoff triple and scored on Kaylen Parks’ single. Parks was plated on a Savannah Bragg bunt, while Riley Adkins and Caroline Parrish had consecutive two-out doubles to give the Patriots a 3-0 lead after one.
Nitro (27-10) capitalized on an error to score its only run in the third, but Bragg belted a two-run home run off the scoreboard in the fifth to put Independence in complete control.
The home run came after Lena Elkins took over in relief of Bella Savilla, who was stellar pitching earlier Wednesday in a 1-0 loss to Petersburg.
Ashleigh Sexton added a home run in the sixth that ended the contest on the eight-run mercy rule.
Bragg threw five quality innings just hours after pitching nine strong frames against the Huskies.