The top-ranked Skyline softball team knew it had a long road to travel when it lost its opening game of the Class 1A state softball tournament by a 1-0 decision to No. 3-ranked Brantley.
And the Vikings just started traveling that road, head coach Slade Bellomy said, “despite how hard we knew it would be.”
The Vikings won three straight games, including a near-midnight rally to defeat No. 6 Waterloo on Day 1, before running “out of gas” and finishing third after losing to No. 2 Leroy 7-4 in the elimination bracket final Wednesday at Choccolocco Park in Oxford and finishing one win shy of making a third straight state championship round appearance.
“They knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the fight was there. You want to have a chance and that’s what the girls gave us. We just came up a little short, but I’m just real proud of the girls, the fight they showed,” said Skyline head coach Slade Bellomy. “They showed their fight and determination they have. They aren’t going to give up. That’s one of the things I like about them.”
After losing to eventual state champion Brantley in the opening round, Skyline (36-13-1) defeated No. 9 Athens Bible 6-3, Waterloo 3-1 and No. 8 Maplesville 10-2 to set up the elimination bracket final with Leroy, which built a 5-0 lead entering the bottom of the fourth inning.
But the Vikings countered with four runs in the their half of the frame, as Jayla Ross (hit by a pitch) and Olivia Treece (reached on an error) scored on Sage Lewis’ two-run triple. Blakley Stucky followed with an RBI single to plate Lewis, and Kenzie Manning hit an RBI double to drive in Stucky and pull Skyline to within 5-4. But Leroy added two more runs in the top of the sixth inning and the Vikings weren’t able to muster a rally in their final two at-bats.
“It’s disappointing when you don’t get it done,” Bellomy said, “but it’s a feat to get here. I told the girls ‘don’t hang your heads.’ Getting back to here, fighting through all those teams to nearly get back to the championship game, that’s a feat in itself.”
Skyline loses two seniors, right fielder Ella Dean and second baseman Manning, and will return a six-player junior class that is loaded with multi-year starters.
“We’ll work hard again, play a difficult schedule again and try to get back here and try to make a run at it,” Slade Bellomy said.
Brantley 1, Skyline 0 — The eventual state champion Bulldogs won a pitcher’s duel with Skyline in the opening round of the state tournament Tuesday morning.
Treece, an all-state tournament selection who surpassed 800 career strikeouts during the contest, allowed just one run on two hits and two walks while recording 15 strikeouts for Skyline while Brantley’s Kaylee Navarre allowed just one hit and four walks while posting 14 strikeouts.
Brantley’s lone run came in the top of the fourth when Alex Grimes singled, stole second base and scored on Navarre’s single to right field. Stucky had Skyline’s lone hit.
Elimination Bracket Game
Skyline 6, Athens Bible 3 — The Vikings eliminated former area rival Athens Bible to advance in the elimination bracket.
The Vikings grabbed an early 2-0 lead on Treece’s two-run homer to right field before adding four runs in the bottom of the third to move in front 6-0 thanks to RBI singles from Lewis and Stucky and a two-run single by Eva Gates.
Lewis, Stucky and Manning had two hits each for the Vikings, who got one each from Ross, Treece, Gates and Audra Bellomy.
Treece pitched 4 1/3 shutout innings, allowing one hit and posting seven strikeouts to earn the win in the circle. Gates stuck out two in 2 2/3 innings pitched.
Elimination Bracket Game
Skyline 3, Waterloo 1 — The Vikings staved off elimination thanks to a three-run sixth inning.
Trailing 1-0 since the first inning, Skyline got a single from Brinlee Potts and a double from Jayla Ross to start in the top of the sixth. Treece then tripled to center field to drive in Potts and Ross to give the Vikings the lead, and Treece scored when Lewis followed with an RBI single for a 3-1 advantage.
Ross had two doubles and Dean had two singles for Skyline while Treece tripled and Potts and Lewis both singled.
Treece pitched a three-hit complete game for the Vikings in the circle, recording her second 15-strikeout game of the state tournament.
Elimination Bracket Game
Skyline 10, Maplesville 2 — Skyline built a 3-1 lead after three innings before scoring seven runs over its final three at-bats Wednesday afternoon to advance to the Class 1A State Tournament’s elimination bracket final.
The Vikings took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning when Gates walked and Audra Bellomy singled before scoring on Potts’ two-run triple. Potts then scored on a passed ball. Skyline stretched its lead to 6-1 in the fifth, as Ross led off the inning with a triple and scored on Treece’s RBI triple. Treece scored a run when Lewis reached on a Maplesville error, and Lewis touched home plate on Manning’s RBI single. Lewis added an RBI single in the sixth to up the Skyline lead to 7-2 before the Vikings took a 10-2 lead in the seventh thanks to Audra Bellomy’s two-run single and Ross’ RBI triple.
Manning and Ross both finished 3-for-4 with an RBI while Bellomy, Lewis and Potts had two hits and two RBIs each for the Vikings, who got one hit and one RBI from Treece and one hit from Brook Cloud.
Treece got the win in the circle, tossing four innings and recording five strikeouts while allowing just two hits. Gates recorded one strikeout in three innings pitched.
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