Stonewall Jackson 1
After being shut out in back-to-back games by Osbourn Park and Stonewall Jackson this season, Osbourn's softball team seemed earmarked for third place in the four-team Virginia AAA Cedar Run District.
But with yesterday's 4-1 road victory over second-ranked Stonewall Jackson, the sixth-ranked Eagles put themselves in position to win the district championship and an automatic berth in the Northwestern Region playoffs.
Stonewall Jackson (16-2) could have clinched the regular season title. Instead, the regular season ended with Stonewall Jackson, Osbourn and Osbourn Park tied for first with 4-2 district records. To break the tie, Osbourn (16-2) and Stonewall Jackson will meet again at 4 p.m. Thursday at Osbourn Park, with the winner going on to face Osbourn Park for the regular season title at a date to be announced.
Osbourn Park won a draw to avoid playing in the Thursday game. The loser Thursday drops to the No. 3 seed for the district tournament next week.
"We just kind of rallied together [after the back-to-back losses] and said, 'You know what, three weeks from now, who knows how this is going to end up; we're still not out of it,' " Osbourn Coach Renee Leake said. "We really believed that. A lot of ifs had to happen to make that happen."
Osbourn scored in the first inning, when junior Cristi Ecks stroked a bases-loaded shot past third base to drive in two runs. Stonewall Jackson senior Courtney Bures, a shortstop who has been pitching more of late, retired the next 14 batters before giving up three more hits in the sixth, including a two-run single by junior Alyssa Kemmerer.
Ecks (seven strikeouts) allowed two hits, both of them to Mississippi State signee Bures. One was a homer to right field in the first inning and the other was a double off the right field fence in the sixth. Ecks also retired 14 in a row at one point.
The win "just makes everything a little more confusing, but we're in a much better situation than we were when we got here," Ecks said. "We just didn't want this opportunity to pass us by, because we knew if we didn't have this game we were kind of out of the" running.
Stonewall Jackson, a state finalist the past two years, had won 10 straight.