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Grayson powers to MED title

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The Blue Devils hit nine home runs in their two district tournament games, winning 17-0 and 11-1.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

A sudden and severe thunderstorm knocked out the Mountain Empire District softball semifinals Wednesday at Mountain View Park. Power was restored on Thursday, in a big way.

Grayson County belted nine home runs in two games, rolling to the MED title in a condensed one-day conclusion to the event. The Blue Devils pulled away from Galax 11-1 in six innings in the championship game after pounding six home runs in a 17-0, five-inning semifinal win over Narrows.

Galax reached the title game by holding off Fort Chiswell 7-3 in a contest resumed in the fifth inning.

Having not gone the full seven innings in an MED game this year, Grayson County (17-3) was tested by Galax in the finals as Maroon Tide pitcher Holly Cassell held the Devils to one run on four hits through three innings. Leading 1-0, Grayson caught fire in the fourth with six hits, including back-to-back home runs by Rachel Burris and Autumn Halsey. 

Claire Circle had doubled to left and Sarah Eller lobbed a bloop single to right, after which Burris cleared the bases by clearing the leftfield fence with a three-run shot, her third of the day.

Halsey followed with a solo homer just inside the leftfield foul line for a 5-0 Grayson lead.

Galax’s best opportunity at making inroads on the Grayson lead came and went in the top of the fifth. A Lauren Garvey single, an error and a walk loaded the bases with Galax’s top two run producers coming to the plate, but Eller ended the threat with back-to-back strikeouts.

Halsey pulled a double into the leftfield corner for two runs in the fifth before Galax got on the board with Morgan Neff’s solo home run in the top of the sixth.

Grayson pulled out to a 10-run lead to end the game in the bottom of the inning. Brady Cassell launched a three-run blast to left-center, and four batters later, Amanda Creed’s ground ball drove in Claire Circle to end the contest with one out.

Galax was roughly three minutes away from what would have been an official game on Tuesday, leading Fort Chiswell 6-3 with one out in the bottom of the fifth, when the skies opened up.

Picking up play Thursday with one out and two Pioneers on base, Cassell got a strikeout and pop-up to end the inning.

The Maroon Tide had scored two runs on wild pitches in the fourth, then added four runs in the fifth. Taylor Cummings doubled and scored on a single by Brittany Byrd, who came around on Taylor Ashworth’s double. Ashworth later scored on a double steal and Neff crossed on an error.

The win solidified a Region C Division 1 tournament berth for Galax (9-13), which surged into the sixth and final spot in the last two weeks of the season by winning six of eight games leading up to the tournament finals.

Safely in the Division 2 field as the MED season champ, Grayson unloaded on Narrows for 17 runs in the first three innings of the second semifinal.

Leading 6-0 after the first inning, the Blue Devils went nuts in the second inning with two doubles and four home runs. Cassell, Claire Circle and Burris all launched two-run blasts and the nonconforming Halsey added a solo shot for a 13-0 lead.

The third inning featured a two-run Grace Circle home run and a three-run poke by Burris, who was 4-for-6 with three home runs and eight RBIs in the two games. Eller and Chelsie Callahan were both 6-for-7 in the two games, Halsey drove in five runs, Cassell and Grace Circle four each.