Washington, Belhaven split doubleheader

Published 1:09 pm Thursday, June 19, 2014




BELHAVEN — When it comes to enthusiasm and pure softball know-how, Washington Little’s Heating & A.C. head coach Greg Dority and Belhaven’s Tony Stanley certainly aren’t lacking in either aspect. In the face of excellent pitching, both are able to devise unconventional methods to manufacture runs late in games.

On Friday, both squads met in Belhaven to close out their regular seasons with a doubleheader, resulting in a strategic stalemate between Dority and Stanley. Belhaven held off a late-inning comeback from Washington to win the first game on a walk-off single, 9-8, while Washington decisively took the second game, 7-2.

With customary starter Rachel Lang out of town, Washington sent Catie Dority to the hill to face off against Belhaven ace and three-year Northside varsity player Taonya Stanley, who commanded her plus-fastball early.

As Belhaven’s starter looked sharp, its offense capitalized on defensive blunders, piling up runs over the first two innings. Three-straight one-out singles from Whitney Cromwell, Alexis Carowan and Mariah Stanley and an error at third resulted in two quick runs. The next batter, Quortasia Clark, blasted an extra-base hit to right-center, as she cleared the bases and came around to score for an inside-the-park home run.

The home team tacked on another three runs in the bottom of the second after another error and hits from Cromwell, Mariah and Taonya Stanley and Clark. With the game seemingly out of reach, Greg Dority’s team, using a slap-hitting, small ball approach, began racking up infield hits and quickly chipping away at the lead.

Back-to-back doubles from Sarah Lynch and Catie Dority and scrappy singles from Chaleigh Baynor, Samantha Sheppard and Alyssa McLawhorn pushed across four runs for Washington.

Greg Dority replaced Catie Dority with McLawhorn in the third. McLawhorn, one of the youngest players on the roster, pitched masterfully for the remainder of the game, keeping the Belhaven offense at bay and allowed her team to fight back.

Washington tacked on a run in the fourth to bring them within three runs. In the fifth, Gabbie Cromwell started things off with an outstanding running catch in centerfield, but Taonya Stanley began to quickly lose command of her fastball. Catie Dority singled and the next two batters reached via base-on-balls. Then, with the bases loaded, Kortney Hardy smashed a grounder underneath the legs of the shortstop and, eventually, the left fielder as well, clearing the bases and tying the game.

But Taonyra Stanley would ultimately come through for her team. She retired the next six Washington batters and, in the bottom of the seventh with a runner on second, smashed a walk-off single up the middle to win the game.

Despite picking up the loss and pitching five innings, McLawhorn allowed just one unearned run and three hits. She would also continue her dominance on the mound in Game 2., while Taonya’s sister, Mariah, came on to pitch for Belhaven.

Having a similar style as her sister, Washington was able to adjust early with two runs in the first and another two in the second.

After facing the minimum over the first two frames, McLawhorn recorded three-straight strikeouts in the third after an infield error allowed Nykedra Spencer to reach.

Then, on offense, singles from Lynch and Sarah Alligood, a walk and another costly error plated another three runs, giving Washington a commanding 7-0 lead.

Whitney Cromwell and Mariah Stanley picked up hits and came around to score, but McLawhorn closed out the game in style with two strikeouts in the final frame of a shortened five-inning contest.

Through both games, McLawhorn picked up a win and a loss, while combining for 11 strikeouts, three runs (none earned) over 10 innings. She allowed just three hits in Game 2.

For Belhaven, Mariah Stanley finished the day 5-for-5 with a walk, while her sister also picked up four hits, including two doubles.

Washington closes out the season 6-4, as Belhaven finishes with a 3-5 record.