Gate City's Kitty Raymond bunts against Central during Tuesday's tournament game in Bristol, Va. (Dave Grace photo)
BRISTOL, Va. — For the first four innings of Tuesday's semifinal contest in the Clinch Mountain Conference 40 softball tournament, Gate City's Lady Blue Devils felt like they couldn't buy a hit.
But instead of riding off into the sunset after falling behind 3-0 to Central, Gate City found a way to walk-off into the championship game.
Kitty Raymond came through with her first home run of the season in the fifth inning and Kasey Repass drew the biggest walk of her career in the seventh to force extra innings before slapping the seeing-eye, game-winning base hit in the ninth that gave the Lady Blue Devils a 4-3 victory over the Lady Warriors.
"That says a lot about these girls to be down 3-0, and I don't think it was in our minds that it was out of reach for us," said Gate City coach Cara Noe. "We've come a long way mentally."
Central took a 1-0 lead in the first when Logan Reynolds ripped a leadoff double and later scored on a groundout. Another double by Khelsea Salyers in the third opened the door for a two-run frame and staked the Lady Warriors to a nice advantage.
With some help from her defense, Central starter Kaitlyn Stratton kept Gate City in check through four innings. The Lady Devils hit the ball hard several times but only had two singles and a goose egg in the runs column to show for it before Raymond dug in in the bottom of the fifth.
Raymond followed Kendra Dougherty's two-out single with a frozen rope that cleared the center-field fence, her first home run of the season. Just like that, it was 3-2 and Gate City had hope.
With the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh, Gate City still trailed by a run and was down to its last strike. But with a 3-2 count, Repass showed the discipline to lay off a payoff pitch outside the zone to plate the tying run.
Stratton escaped the jam to extend the game, but Central's offense never could get going during the extra innings. After two consecutive infield hits in the bottom of the ninth, Repass finished the job by hitting a grounder deep into the hole at short to bring home Dougherty with the game-winning run.
Repass (8-4) came on in the fifth inning in relief of starter Caitlin McConnell to earn the win.
Raymond finished with three hits for the Lady Devils, who will face regular-season champ John Battle in the title game on Thursday at 7 p.m. Battle dismissed Lee High 9-1 in Tuesday's other semifinal.
For an expanded version of this article, please see Wednesday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.comments powered by Disqus