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YORKTOWN –– Grayson County captured its first ever state title in Little League fastpitch softball recently with a 7-1 win over McLean in the 10-11 division at the York County Sports Complex.
Grayson County entered the week-long event as the District 1 champion and began pool play against Northhampton on July 16.
Kassie Hawks and Jenna Holdaway combined to pitch a perfect game, while Grayson hitters rolled up 13 runs with Emily Hart leading the way with a 3-for-3 game at the plate in a 13-0 victory.
In the second game of pool play on July 17, Grayson County faced Essex. Lakean Vaught got things rolling for Grayson with a leadoff single. A towering double by Sydney Jones and back-to-back hard-hit grounders for RBIs by Gracie Davidson and Holdaway spurred Grayson to a 4-0 lead. That was all the cushion that was necessary for pitcher Kaylee Moore, who started in the circle for Grayson.
Grayson County faced Luray in the final game of pool play. Moore again got the nod to pitch with Kalynn Kirk and Jones providing relief. Grayson batted around in the first inning with Claire Circle leading off with an inside the park home run, and by the time Zoe Lonardo crossed home plate, Grayson had hammered its way to a 9-0 lead.
Moore had a 2-for-2 night at the plate while Hawks drove in three runs to lead Grayson. Several of the Grayson players had caught a stomach virus, but the team pulled together for a four-inning 18-0 win. This win placed Grayson County in first place in its pool with a 3-0 record.
In the first game of single elimination play in the championship bracket on July 20, Grayson faced the No. 2 seed from Pool B, Green Run.
Green Run’s pitching proved to be difficult for Grayson County as the results of the semifinal game were tight. Davidson pitched the first two innings for Grayson County and retired six of the first seven batters she faced. In the bottom of the second, Davidson walked, stole second and scored on a wild pitch to give Grayson a 1-0 lead.
Things got scary for Grayson County in the third as Green Run put three runs on the board to take a 3-1 lead, but Grayson responded in the bottom of the third as Kirk reached on an error. Grace Vaughan was inserted as a pinch runner and advanced to third as Vaught laid down a bunt to reach first safely.
Circle singled for an RBI, driving in Vaughan to cut the gap to 3-2, and Hart bunted to reach first with Vaught being thrown out at home on a close play. Grayson County took a 4-3 lead when Davidson ripped a triple to score two more runs.
After Green Run scored to tie the game in the top of the fourth, Holdaway stepped into the circle and struck out two Green Run batters to keep the game tied. After a quiet top of the fifth and the score tied going into the bottom of the inning, Grayson used small ball to secure a lead. Vaught started the inning with a single and a stolen base. Circle laid down a sacrifice bunt to push Vaught to third, and Hart followed with another sacrifice bunt as Vaught slid into home under the tag to score the go-ahead run. Grayson led 5-4, and it was all that the team would need. In the top of the sixth the potential tying run advanced as far as third with one out, but Holdaway fired to Circle to catch the runner at third asleep for the second out. A final strikeout by Holdaway and the game belonged to Grayson County 5-4.
In the championship game, Grayson County faced the No. 1 seed from Pool B, perennial powerhouse McLean.
Davidson started on the mound for Grayson and did not yield a run until the top of the third. Grayson struck first in the bottom of the first with a hard hit double by Circle followed by an RBI single by Davidson as Grayson took a 1-0 lead.
After a score by McLean in the top of the third tied the game at 1-1, Grayson exploded for three runs in the bottom of the inning.
Kirk again started the rally with a double and Vaughan scored from second on a single by Vaught. Hart doubled and Davidson singled, and Grayson had a 4-1 lead.
In the bottom of the fourth, Grayson tacked on three more runs with the familiar trio of Kirk, Vaughan, and Vaught leading the way. Hawks doubled to score Davidson, the final run for Grayson as it built a 7-1 lead.
Holdaway finished off McLean 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth to seal the championship for Grayson County.
Grayson County finished the tournament with an unblemished 5-0 record, racking up 51 runs while giving up only nine. Championship bracket play saw the Grayson County defenders play error free against two outstanding teams en route to the title.
Grayson used seven pitchers who combined to allow only seven hits for the tournament.
Hart led all Grayson hitters with a .485 batting average.