Mathes blasts Hurricane into softball sectional finals

May 2, 2019

ONA — The key to Hurricane’s 8-0 softball victory over Cabell Midland Tuesday wasn’t the players’ arms or legs, but their shoulders.

“We came in with a good mentality, with a chip on our shoulders,” Redskins shortstop Caiti Mathes said of her team’s desire to prove itself after being seeded third in the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 tournament. “That third seed fired us up.”

Mathes took out her anger on the ball, smashing a pair of two-run home runs to back Harlie Vannatter’s three-hit shutout that sent four-time defending state champion Hurricane (27-5) into Thursday’s 6 p.m. double-elimination finals against the winner of Wednesday’s 6 p.m. elimination game featuring top-seeded Cabell Midland (23-10) and No. 2 seed Spring Valley (16-9).

Spring Valley defeated fourth seed Huntington High 8-0 in the day’s first game, eliminating the Highlanders (4-22).

“We do really well when we play with an edge,” Redskins coach Meghan Stevens said. “We were fired up. We’re starting to gel and hard work pays off.”

Mathes’ homer to left field three batters into the game scored Lindsey Phares to give Hurricane the only run it needed. Alivia Meeks singled home Vannatter in the second to make it 3-0 and Mathes hit a massive shot to left to drive in Phares again in the third, making it 5-0.

“We’re all seeing the ball really well right now,” said Mathes, who added she and her teammates thought they deserved a No. 1 seed.

Zoey Dunlap ripped a bases-loaded double in the sixth inning to ensure a mercy-rule victory for a team that isn’t interested in showing grace to any opponent.

“We reminded our girls that it’s not over,” Stevens said. “We have to come back Thursday and take care of business.”

Mathes finished 2-for-2 with four runs batted in and two intentional walks. Phares was 3-for-4.

The Redskins can win the title with a triumph Thursday. The Cabell Midland-Spring Valley winner would have to defeat Hurricane twice to win the sectional championship.

In Tuesday’s first game, Spring Valley had to work for the victory, as HHS pitcher Amilia Howard held the Timberwolves scoreless through three innings in a pitcher’s duel with Bryn Osburn. Spring Valley, though, took advantage of two Huntington High errors to score six runs in the fourth inning. Osburn drove in two and Sophie Wellman and Kelsey Huffman one each.

“All my pitches were working, especially my change and curve,” Osburn said.

The senior right-hander and Kentucky Christian University signee complimented Howard, a freshman.

“We had to adjust,” Osburn said. “She was throwing outside and we had to adjust to hit that. She pitched well.”

The Timberwolves scored two in the sixth as Riley Shirkey and Emma Sowder drove in runs to win via mercy rule.

Osburn allowed two hits and struck out two in earning the win. Shirkey went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and three RBI. Gracie Edwards was 2-for-3.