(Story by Daniel Woods)


Hedgesville, W.Va- Spring Mills needed to overcome the Eagles and the elements to secure a first round sectional softball win and the Cardinals did just that, knocking off Hedgesville by a 6-3 score in a game that was completed Wednesday night after beginning on Tuesday.


The third-seeded Cardinals seized a 5-1 lead in the top of the third but after recording the final out in the bottom half of the inning, they were sent to their dugout and did not return to the field for nearly 24 hours due to deteriorating conditions on Hedgesville’s home field amidst a steady rain.


Despite the delay, Spring Mills managed to return a day later and complete its mission with a first round victory, an all-important first step in the process


“With double-elimination, winning that first game sets you up so much better than if you fall in the loser’s bracket to begin with,” head coach Grant Megargee said.


It was second-seeded Hedgesville that grabbed the game’s first lead in the bottom of the first after Maggie Boyer smacked a leadoff triple and came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Brynn Miller.


Spring Mills managed to answer in the next half inning after Sabrina Nutter led off with a double and eventually scored on a Lindsay Jenkins fielder’s choice. That was all in terms of scoring until the Cardinals put up a crooked number in the third for a score that held into the following day.


A walk and back to back hit batters loaded the bases for Alexis Wagner who lined a single into the outfield that brought two runs across the plate, followed by a wild pitch that scored Carissa Ring.


Paige Houghton laid down a sacrifice bunt later in the inning that allowed Wagner to race home and give the visitors a 5-1 lead. After Hedgesville was retired in the bottom half of the same inning, the umpires convened and decided that play would be suspended and resume the following evening.


“With the wet ball, we were just trying to put the ball in play,” Megargee said, “we were fortunate they threw the ball around the one time. We were just executing and taking advantage of every opportunity we could get.”


The restart began inconspicuously with a scoreless fourth but Spring Mills secured an insurance run in the fifth with Wagner reaching on an error before taking second with a stolen base and third on a fielder’s choice. Nutter singled her home shortly after and the lead grew to its largest before Rebecca Fox recorded the third out of the inning via a strikeout with the bases loaded.  


The combination of Boyer and Miller got that run back for the Eagles when the teams traded places with another triple from Boyer setting up a Miller RBI single but Wagner turned around and matched Fox’s effort with a bases loaded strikeout of her own.


The freshman pitched a complete game for the Cardinals, striking out five and allowing just one earned run.


“She toughed it out, came back and relied on her defense again today. Sometimes we didn’t make the plays tonight for her like we did last night but we made them when we needed to,” Megargee said.


A scoreless sixth provided Hedgesville a final opportunity in the bottom of the seventh and Boyer came through again with a leadoff single before coming around to score on a Fox fielder’s choice. 


Wagner managed to slam the door after that though and push Spring Mills through in the winner’s bracket. The Cardinals will face Musselman, the top seed in Class AAA Region II, Section 1 on Thursday.