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Battle outguns Union for M7 softball championship

By JOHNNY WILSON, Sports Correspondent • May 26, 2018 at 2:01 AM

BRISTOL, Va. — Union dropped a 10-5 decision to homestanding John Battle in Friday night’s championship game, but that did little to spoil the fun the Lady Bears had in this week’s Mountain 7 District softball tournament.

A 6-0 upset of second-seeded Ridgeview in semifinal play the night before is a moment the third-seeded Lady Bears will long remember.

“No sir, this doesn’t take away what we’ve accomplished,” said fourth-year Union coach Michael Rhodes. “We played really good ball this week and have all year.

“Coach (Eric) Senter does a tremendous job and Battle has a great program. It’s fun to play in games like this against teams like that.”

Union (15-7-1) had already locked up a Region 2D playoff berth out of the ultra-tough Mountain 7, as had the regular-season champion Lady Trojans (16-6).

“These seniors played in the (district) championship game as freshmen and won it and then they got to play in it again this year, and I think that speaks well of them and how they’ve helped build this program,” Rhodes said. “We’re going to region and we all feel really confident about that.”

The Lady Bears just didn’t have enough to deal with the top-seeded Trojans, who posted back-to-back five-run innings to gain a comfortable working advantage.

Battle’s Madison Hill went the distance to get the win, striking out 10 and allowing seven hits.

Ridgeview won Friday’s consolation game, knocking Central out of the postseason entirely

OFFENSIVE EXPLOSION

Down 1-0 following a first-inning RBI double by Union’s Brooke Light, Battle gained the upper hand with a five-run third.

A three-run home run by Sydney Bailey got the Lady Trojans going, and a two-run single by Madison McConnell made it a 5-1 game.

Battle added five more runs in the fourth to chase starting pitcher Marleigh Duncan.

McConnell, who had two hits and four RBIs, plated two of the runs with a single. Emma Harmon laced a two-run double to give the Lady Trojans a 10-1 lead.

Zoe Brooks relieved and shut out Battle from there, but the damage had been done.

The Lady Trojans finished with 12 base hits, Bailey and Sarah Musick joining McConnell with two each.

Light and Jenna Wade both had two hits to pace Union.

“They hit the ball well, but so did we,” Rhodes said. “We just hit it at people more than they did.”

LADY BEARS RALLY

Down 10-1, Union scored three times in the fifth behind a two-run homer by Wade. The Lady Bears then added a run in the seventh on an RBI double from Duncan.

But the rally attempt was simply too little, too late.

“The girls have battled all year and they proved it again tonight,” Rhodes said. “We got down a little bit and were up against a good team, but we never quit.

“We kept fighting until the final out and that’s kind of been our calling card all season.”

ROLLING ON

Both teams will play in next week’s Region D tournament, Battle assuming the Mountain 7’s top seed and the Lady Bears likely playing out of the No. 3 slot.

“We’ll probably get either Richlands or Lebanon,” Rhodes said. “I’ll take my chances with these girls — I wouldn’t trade them for anything.”

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