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Shupe, Devils take tourney

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Grayson County’s freshman pitcher struck out 14 while the Devils rallied for an 8-2 win over Fort.

By Craig Worrell, Sports Editor

INDEPENDENCE -- A postseason tournament championship game isn’t the most common of circumstances under which to give a rookie pitcher some experience. But claiming another Mountain Empire District title was Grayson County’s Destiny. Destiny Shupe, a promising freshman righthander who spent the regular season with the Blue Devil junior varsity, held Fort Chiswell to two runs and patiently waited for her teammates to string a couple of big innings together as Grayson downed the Pioneers 8-2 in the MED finals Thursday at the Grayson County Recreation Park. Shupe was spotted an early lead on a first-inning RBI single by Laken Parks, but her make-or-break inning came in the top of the third when the Pioneers combined three hits, a walk and an error to take a 2-1 lead. Shupe struck out Kristen Midkiff after giving up singles to Amber Chrisley and Erin Blair to lead off the inning, but her misplay of a comebacker resulted in a throwing error and a tying run by the Pioneers. Katie Burnett followed with an RBI single, and a walk to Claire Glasscock loaded the bases, still with one out. Shupe bore down and fanned Megan Delby and Taylor Mooney to get out of the fix with no further damage. Shupe left two stranded in the fourth before her teammates began making things happen on the basepaths with some help from a shaky Pioneer defense. A dropped two-out fly ball, a hit batter and another error on a potential inning-ending ground ball filled the bases for Kayla Spurlin, who lobbed a bloop over first base for a two-run single, putting Grayson (16-5) in front to stay. Grayson’s first three batters of the fifth reached, including a double by Autumn Pierce, before Pioneer starter Chrisley recorded a couple of pop-outs. Natasha Moore’s grounder appeared to end the inning, but a moment of indecision near second base allowed a run across and left all runners safe. Catherine Vaughan followed with a high pop fly to left that was dropped, bringing in three more runs for a 7-2 Grayson County lead. “We weren’t putting the ball in play real good, but the key was just putting it in play and making things happen,” Grayson County coach Tim Hollingsworth said. “It worked out for us. We got people on base and got some runs in, but give Fort Chiswell some credit. They did a good job making some plays. They stepped it up and we had to step it up to win it. It wasn’t a pretty game, but we won.” The Blue Devils went to their bench to cap the scoring in the sixth, as pinch hitters Nicole Grubb and Emily Higgins produced a single and an RBI double, respectively, for the final 8-2 margin. Shupe retired 11 of the final 14 Pioneers she faced, including seven on strikeouts. She scattered six hits on the day, walking five but striking out 14 in seven innings of work. “We were just wanting to get her some experience,” Hollingsworth said. “She was throwing strikes and doing a good job, and we may use her some later on.” Spurlin and Pierce each had two hits for season champion Grayson County, which hosts James River in Tuesday’s Region C first round game. Chrisley took the loss for the Pioneers, who will go to Bath County for their quarterfinal Tuesday. Chrisley gave up just two earned runs on nine hits, fanning four and walking one.   MED finals

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Fort Chiswell............002  000  0––2  6  4 Grayson County......100  241  x––8  9  2

Chrisley and Thomas. Shupe and Vaughan. WP – Shupe. LP – Chrisley. 2B – Pierce, Hale.