By Kyle Lutz, Wheeling Newspapers
GLEN DALE — John Marshall is heading back to Vienna and the state softball tourney.
For the second year in a row, the Monarchs claimed a West Virginia Class AAA Region 1 championship as they defeated University, 3-0, on May 16. The Monarchs will head into the state tournament with a 29-1 record and 25-game winning streak. They will play the Region 2 champion, either Hedgesville or Washington.
After John Marshall put up 17 runs on the Hawks on Tuesday, in game 1, the Monarchs saw more of a defensive battle Wednesday.
University “had some great defensive plays,” John Marshall coach Ed West said. “They made the plays they needed to and we hit the ball hard. I thought the first four or five innings, we hit the ball as hard as we have in most games. It just so happened everything we hit was right at them or they made a good play on it. I attribute that to University for playing such good defense against us.”
The Monarchs’ defense played just as impressively, especially when it counted the most.
The Hawks had a player in scoring position on more than one occasion, but Carli Lightner and the Monarchs’ defense didn’t fold.
In the third inning, Hayden Powroznik was walked with two outs. She was able to get to third thanks to Layne Assif’s single. However, the Hawks’ next batter popped out to center field, and UHS and came away empty-anded.h
Up 1-0 in the fifth inning, Lightner and the Monarchs were in a similar situation. Hannah Vorndran led off with a double for the Hawks. After a strikeout, Assif supplied her second hit to move her teammate to third. With two on and one out, the Hawks had their opportunity. However, the Monarchs’ defense retired the next two batters.
“I have a lot of faith in Carli, and I have a lot of faith in my defense,” West said. “I kept trying to tell her, ‘Stay ahead in the count and make them hit the ball and get on. We’ll make plays.’ And we did. We made a lot of good plays. We got the outs.”
Lightner fired seven strikeouts.
“It feels pretty good,” Lightner said about getting out of the jams. “They were hitting the ball a lot better than they did the last time we played them. It did make me a little nervous, but I didn’t panic. I didn’t worry about it. I knew we were going to come through.”
Mack Hall put the Monarchs on the board in the second inning with an RBI single to score Maddy Mayle.
The Monarchs tacked on two insurance runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. Lydia Knutsen led the inning off by getting to first safely on an error. Lightner followed with a single.
Lauren Garcia also reached base safely on another error by the Hawks, which scored Knutsen. Abby Blake made it 3-0 with a sacrifice fly to center field.
“We had two chances (Wednesday) to tie the game up or break a lead,” University coach Mindy Parks said. “After getting beat last night, that’s the way my team’s been all year — either really good or really bad. There’s no in-between. I thought [Wednesday] was really good and [Tuesday] we fell apart.
“I think the pitching was better. [John Marshall] is a great team, and for us to hang with them and have it 1-0 until the fifth, that was my goal, and I think we met that goal. To give them a game and possibly could have won the game. It could have gone either way. I’m really proud.”
Assif tallied two singles for the Hawks while Lindsey Vorndran also had a single.