RONDA - With their 4-3 victory over Starmount on Friday in the Mountain Valley Conference tournament semifinals, coupled with West Wilkes downing Wilkes Central in the second game, the Lady Falcons wrapped up the No. 2 seed out of 2A teams in the conference.
Winning the conference championship on Monday would have just been icing on the cake.
“This year, knowing that we wouldn’t have Shey [Steelman] until later on, we kept telling the ladies to keep focusing on the playoffs,” head coach Rachel Davis explained. “We told them not to worry about the conference and just get a good seed for the playoffs, and we’ll make our show there. And here we are.”
Forbush ran into a Blackhawk club that has been rolling all season long, while claiming the regular-season championship.
West jumped out to a 4-0 advantage and held on for the 7-4 victory to capture the conference tournament crown.
Shey Steelman and Courtney Lackey battled through two scoreless frames to start the game, with each working out of jams.
The ‘Hawks finally broke through and plated a pair of runs in the third and fifth to take a 4-0 lead.
But Anna Wingler brought the Falcons back with one swing of the bat, cranking a three-run shot in the sixth to bring Forbush within one at 4-3.
West responded with three runs in the home-half of the frame to extend its lead out to 7-3, forcing the Falcons to battle back in the seventh with the championship on the line.
Forbush showed its resiliency and loaded the bases in the final inning and brought the tying run to the plate in Natalie Hauser.
With one out, Hauser lifted the ball deep into the left-center gap. One run came across on the double, but Mallory Choplin was gunned down at the dish on a perfect relay throw from short, breaking the Falcons’ hearts.
West finished it off and escaped with the 7-4 triumph to sweep the MVAC championships.
Wingler paced the offense with a home run and double, while Regan Gentry added a pair of hits. Steelman picked up the loss on the mound, ending an impressive streak of dominating outings since her return from injury on April 20.
Despite the heart-breaking loss, Forbush secured an easier path through the 2A state playoffs, set to begin this Friday.
As the No. 2 seed, the Lady Falcons will travel to the second-seeded team out of the Central Carolina Conference, which is unknown at the time of publication.
Reach Matthew Gorry at 835-1513 or firstname.lastname@example.org.