SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. — St. Marys survived its first elimination game Wednesday night with a 7-4 victory over Greenbrier West that allowed the Blue Devils to play Petersburg on the final day of the season in the WVSSAC State Softball Tournament.
Thanks in large part to the dominant pitching of Cali Masters, the Blue Devils remained in the hunt for the Class A crown by defeating the Vikings for a 6-0 victory and a spot in Thursday’s title game against Wahama.
“We’ve had our backs against the wall several times this season and we’ve pushed through and taken care of business,” Blue Devils’ head coach Lacy Riggs said. “There was a lot riding in this game. We made school history by getting to the state championship and got to 30 wins.”
St. Marys (30-5) is in the state championship for the first time in school history later Thursday and needs to defeat the two-defending state champion White Falcons twice before losing once.
Petersburg, with only 10 players on its roster, saw its season end at 26-10 after being shutout for a second straight game.
“We had a great year and anything and everything here was sort of the cherry on top,” PHS head coach Bubba Hedrick said.
Masters and Vikings’ pitcher Sam Colaw prevented the opposition from scoring each of the first two innings, and Masters overcame Kylei Berg’s leadoff single in the third to keep the contest scoreless.
St. Marys struck first in the home half of the third on Autumn Mossor’s single that brought home Breanna Price, who led off with a single and stole second base.
Colaw kept the deficit at one by stranding a pair of runners, but after Petersburg left the tying run at third in the fourth, SMHS doubled its advantage that inning on Price’s two-out, run scoring single down the left field line.
Masters continued to excel and worked around a two-out walk in the fifth keep the two-run advantage intact, and the Blue Devils added to it in a big way when they came to the plate in that frame.
Zoey Winland set the tone with a leadoff single and moved into scoring position with a stolen base before advancing to third on a wild pitch. Winland came home on an Ella Smith single, and two batters later, Bryce McGrady belted a two-run triple to the gap in right-center.
“In the beginning, we were on our heels,” Riggs said. “Sam throws a lot of changeups and she’s notorious for throwing a lot of changeups. In the beginning of the game, we kind of let those changeups fool us and beat us. Once we got them in the mindset of you’re going to have to take that first good pitch you see, the bats came around a lot more.”
Layne Kincaid followed with single to score McGrady for what proved to be the game’s final run.
Masters threw up another zero from the pitching circle in the sixth, before Smith struck out all three PHS batters she faced in the seventh, saving Masters another inning and leaving her with the possibility of pitching up to eight more Thursday.
Price and Mossor keyed the Blue Devils’ nine-hit attack with two apiece.
Masters struck out 10, allowed three hits and issued only one base-on-balls.
“She just went out there and pitched her game and when Cali sets her mind to something, very rarely does she not achieve what she sets out to do,” Riggs said. “She’s a very mentally tough kid.”
Colaw threw six innings and struck out seven with a pair of walks.
“We knew what we were up against and that it was going to be tough,” Hedrick said. “I’m just thankful we had a great year.”