RUSTBURG — Appomattox County and Dan River softball fans experienced déjà vu during the Region 2C championship game Friday night at Rustburg High School.
For the second time this year, Appomattox senior and University of Virginia commit Courtney Layne and Dan River senior and Radford University commit Emily McVay squared off in the circle, and the two locked into a pitcher’s duel.
In the end, Layne and the Raiders came out on top, claiming their second consecutive regional championship with a 1-0 win over the Wildcats.
Top-seeded Appomattox (21-0) will open Class 2 state tournament play Tuesday when it hosts Region D top-seed Tazewell in the quarterfinals.
No. 1 Dan River (18-3) will take on the other top seed in Region D when it travels to Wise County for its Class 2 state quarterfinal matchup against Central Wise on Tuesday.
Neither Layne or McVay blinked throughout the contest, resulting in an old-fashioned duel and scoreless game heading into the bottom of the sixth. That changed in the sixth as sophomore Aubrey Fulcher and senior Abigail Wilkerson worked two-out walks to give the Raiders their best chance to score. Minutes later, Fulcher came home to score the game-winning run on a throwing error on a double steal.
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Layne finished off the win by striking out the side in the seventh.
Layne recorded 15 strikeouts and scattered four hits in seven innings for Appomattox.
McVay matched her counterparts’ efforts, scattering just three hits and striking out nine in six innings thrown.
Dan River put some offense together in its first-at bat courtesy of one-out singles from McVay and senior Katie Moser, but Layne was able to work her way out of the jam with a pair of back-to-back strikeouts.
McVay sat down the Raiders’ potent offense in order in the first to establish the theme and Layne followed by striking out the side in the second.
Appomattox picked up its first base runner in the second when Layne reached on an error on her ground ball and Fulcher picked up the Raiders’ first hit on a bunt single. The ‘Cats’ defense stole the momentum back when junior catcher Grayson Snead fired a rocket to freshman McKenzie McVay to nail Layne in her steal attempt. Emily McVay, Snead and McKenzie McVay teamed up for a big defensive stop when Emily McVay sat down senior Michaela Williams on a strikeout and Snead relayed another missile over to McKenzie McVay to nail Fulcher in a steal attempt.
Dan River strung together a pair of base runners in the third when senior Rebekah Stowe reached on an error on her ground ball and Moser followed with a single to put runners on the corners with one out. However, Layne induced back-to-back strikeouts to work her way out of the jam.
The Raiders picked up a pair of base runners in the third on a one-out hit-by-pitch and walk, but Emily McVay induced a ground out and strike out to get out of the situation and keep the contest scoreless.
Moser gave the ‘Cats a bit of excitement in the sixth when she led off the frame with a double to center and moved over to third on Emily McVay’s sacrifice bunt back to third. However, Layne was once again solid down the stretch, getting a fly out and strike out to get out of the inning.
Moser led Dan River with a trio of hits while Emily McVay added the other.
Layne, Fulcher and Emily Purcell led Appomattox with a hit apiece.