The top of the fourth inning had just ended in Loudoun Valley's Virginia AA semifinal against Poquoson on Friday -- and the Vikings had escaped a bases-loaded situation with only one out -- when the rain started falling at Radford University.
Only it wasn't falling everywhere.
Instead, the steady rain hit the Islanders' dugout and ran the length of the first base line. The entire left side of the field down the third base line remained dry in front of the Vikings' dugout.
"I think that's a sign that it's raining over there and not over here," said backup shortstop Sarah Spicer, the daughter of Vikings Coach Joe Spicer, as senior third baseman Kori Bonner walked to the plate.
Sure enough, Bonner patiently drew a walk from Poquoson sophomore pitcher Sarah Evans to lead off the inning, giving Loudoun Valley its third base runner of the game. That was the just the beginning.
Senior All-Met second baseman Jessica Everhart (Virginia Tech) blasted a line drive down the left field line that rolled to the fence, scoring Bonner. Senior left fielder Amy Edmondson, who had a three-run home run in the Vikings' quarterfinal victory, followed with a single to right that scored Everhart and provided the final run in a 2-0 victory.
"In order to win at this level you've got to have some luck," Joe Spicer said. "I don't care how good you are; some things have to go your way. We were lucky enough to string a couple of hits together there. And we'll take it."
Loudoun Valley (26-1) advanced to yesterday's state championship game against Dan River, a 2-1 winner over Cave Spring in the other semifinal. (The championship game took place too late to be included in today's Loudoun Extra. See today's sports section for complete coverage).
The Vikings captured their only state title in 2003, but teams from the Dulles District have claimed three of the past five championships. Broad Run won the title in 2000, and Park View won in 2002. Dan River has not won a state title.
"All we need to do is keep up the same intensity we had in this game," Edmondson said. "This team is so close; we know each other so well and believe in each other so much. It's down now to just one more win. That would be the perfect end to the season."
Loudoun Valley junior pitcher Cassie McGaha, in one of her most dominant performances of the year, made sure the two-run lead would stand up. She did not allow a base runner in the fifth or sixth innings and began the seventh with two more outs. Even after Islanders leadoff batter Kristin McCormick reached on an error and shortstop Evelyn Garcia followed with a single, there was not a hint of panic from the pitching circle.
McGaha (10 strikeouts, 7 hits, 1 walk) promptly lured catcher Allyson McCubbins into an easy ground ball back to the mound for the game's final out.
"Cassie has done so well this year," said senior All-Met shortstop Jennifer Everhart, who will attend Radford. "She doesn't show a lot of emotion out there; that's not how she is. But she knows when we need her, and she always comes through for us."
McGaha's drop ball was working particularly well on Friday. "Her drop ball has just been ridiculous lately," junior catcher Malorie Weller said. "I don't know what it is, but the past three games no one has been able to touch it."