Jada Karnes crushed a two out, three run homer to tie the game in the bottom of the 10th inning and the William Byrd softball team went on to beat Amherst County in a Region 4D semifinal game in Vinton Tuesday.
The stunning 10-9, 11 inning victory put Byrd in the regional final at home today and clinched a berth in the state tournament for the Terriers.
“It was the wildest game I’ve ever been a part of,” said Byrd coach Greg Barton. “We were down three runs with two outs and no one on and not a single girl on our bench was giving up. It was unreal.”
Seven times in the game the lead changed hands or one team pulled even with the other. Byrd struck first with two runs in the first inning but the Lancers put three on the board in the second to take a 3-2 lead. Ellason Spangler’s RBI double tied the game at 3-3 in the third.
The fourth inning was scoreless, but Byrd took a 4-3 lead in the fifth when Mara Strum blasted a line drive off Amherst pitcher Braelyn Cooper’s knee. That scored Megan Grant and send Cooper to the hospital, forcing a pitching change for the visitors.
The Terriers scored two more in the bottom of the sixth for a 6-3 and things were looking good for the home team. However, the Lancers managed three runs in the top of the seventh to tie the game and send it into extra innings.
Meanwhile, Amherst relief pitcher Elizabeth Carter shut out the Terriers in the seventh, eighth and ninth, working out of trouble at every turn.
She got out of a bases loaded jam in the seventh with a line out doubleplay, and Byrd had a runner thrown out at home in the ninth that could have won the game right there.
Strum pitched the first nine innings for Byrd but tired in the 10th and was relieved on the mound by Karns as Amherst plated three runs to take a 9-6 lead. Carter got the first two batters in the bottom of the inning and things were looking bleak for the home team.
But in softball, it’s not over until it’s over. Strum singled with two outs and Brianna Hodges walked, bringing the potential tying run to the plate in Karnes. Jada worked a 3-1 count, then drilled the next pitch over the fence to stun the visitors and tie the game.
Now on the mound, Karns retired the Lancers in the top of the 11th. In the bottom of the inning Hannah Sowers singled and Katie Fuchs followed with a fielders’ choice, rubbing out Sowers. Lexi Powell singled with one out and Megan Grant followed with a walk-off single to win the game.
“It was an amazing game,” said Barton. “They were a very good hitting team but we made play after play in the field.”
The game lasted four hours and 11 minutes and ended the season for Amherst. Byrd stayed alive to play again, hosting Blacksburg in Thursday’s regional championship game. Both teams advance to the state tournament.
The Terriers finished Tuesday’s game with 17 hits, including four by Grant, who also played a great game at shortstop.
“She was unreal,” said Barton. “Megan is one of the best defensive players I’ve ever seen.”
Strum and Karns had three hits each while Spangler, Sowers and Powell had two each. Karns had four runs batted in.
Byrd is now 21-1 on the season. Last week the Terriers opened region play with a 7-4 win over Liberty Christian Academy in Vinton. Karnes had three hits in this one and Spangler drove in three runs. Grant, Powell and Alexis West had two hits each and Grant scored three times. Strum pitched a complete game for the win, striking out eight.
Today’s winner will get a home game to open the Class 4 state tournament next week. Byrd will play a Region C team, either Woodgrove or Loudoun County.