Prep softball: Blue Eagles nip Blue Devils, 1-0

NEW MARTINSVILLE, W.Va. – Ashley Moore knew what needed to be done.

Scoreless with two out in the bottom of the seventh, the senior took a 1-1 pitch and landed it just in front of right fielder Jessica Roy to drive in pinch runner Tylar Seckman as Magnolia topped St. Marys, 1-0, to claim the Region I title, and, most importantly, earn a spot in the state tournament.

“I knew I had to get this girl in and get that winning run,” Moore said. “I did everything I could to make that happen.”

She didn’t disappoint.

“She’s a senior and she’s a leader and she steps up all the time,” said winning pitcher Mallory Chapman, who retired nine on strikes and limited the Blue Devils to three hits. “I just had a feeling it was going to happen. She’s a winner and she loves to make big plays. She’s done that all year for us. I’m so happy for her.”

After Emily Clegg was retired to start the seventh, St. Marys starting and losing pitcher Kendra Becker walked Jordan Grimm. Seckman came on as the pinch runner and Erin Clegg sacrificed her to second to set up Moore’s game winner.

While Moore proved to be the walk-off-hero, it was Chapman’s pitching, once again, that kept the Blue Eagles (17-11) alive.

“A lot of my girls watched her pitches instead of swinging at them,” St. Marys coach John Mike Nichols said. “She has to be one of the best pitchers in the state without a doubt. She’s very, very talented and I think she’s going to lead them a long way in the state tournament. She’s awesome.”

The Blue Devils (15-12) looked poised to score the game’s first run in the fifth.

Following a Roy hit up the middle, Rachel Perry reached on a bunt to put runners on first and second with only one out. Sammi Clayton got ahead in the count 2-0, but hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the threat.

Chapman allowed only one more base runner – a walk in the sixth – the rest of the way.

“She’s been like that all year long for us,” Magnolia first-year coach Dillon Mangino said of his ace. “She means so much for this team. Not just her play on the field, but as a leader. Her attitude is infectious to the team.”

Magnolia will play Sherman, which defeated Fayetteville 19-0 to claim the Region III, in the first round of the state tournament, which will be held at Jackson Park in Vienna, Wednesday morning at 9:30.

“All the pieces are almost together and we just have to continue it at states,” Moore said. “We accomplished a lot. At the beginning of the season we were shakey and now we’re going to states.”