By Brad Morris
ASHVILLE — Teays Valley found the going a little tougher on Monday playing rival Circleville for the second time in five days, but the host Vikings were able to do enough in all phases of the game to claim a 4-2 win.
“We weren’t at the top of our game, but you have to give some of the credit for that to Circleville,” Teays Valley coach Derrick Hastler said. “They competed hard, they made some nice plays in the field and it was a good game.”
Teays Valley went to Roundtown and won 10-0 last Thursday. Circleville coach Dave Truex felt the final score didn’t quite tell the complete story of the game.
“I felt like we competed pretty decently against Teays Valley last week. It was a 0-0 game in the fourth and if we make the third out there, it’s still 0-0. Instead, we made an error and things kinda ballooned after that and we were down 5-0,” he said. “Our girls competed hard again tonight against a pretty solid Division I team.”
The win moves the Vikings (19-1, 12-0) one step closer to winning the Mid-State League Buckeye Division championship for the first time since 2019. Teays Valley can wrap-up no worse than a share of the title with a win on Wednesday at Liberty Union and can boast of an undefeated league championship with a win on Thursday over Bloom-Carroll. That game, originally suspended on April 25 due to rain, will resume scoreless with one inning complete.
“That’s always one of your first goals every season, to win the league,” Hastler said. “Ideally, we’d like to win it outright so that means we need to win our last two games.
“We came back to beat Bloom-Carroll (8-7 in 10 innings) the first time. When teams play Teays Valley in our league, they bring their A game and when you compete against (Ohio State pitching signee) Lexi Paulsen and Bloom-Carroll, you have to bring your A game. There is a lot of tradition and pride in both programs.”
Teays Valley, fresh off being seeded fifth out of 48 teams in the upcoming Division I Central District tournament, pounded out 10 hits in the victory. Morgan Cantrell went 2-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored, Michelle Brumfield posted a 2-for-3 performance and scored, and Faith Thompson and Emma Helwagen both also had 2-for-3 days at the plate.
“We started the season offensively where everyone was hitting the softball from top-to-bottom, but then we hit a rough patch in the middle of the season where we had a hard time with manufacturing runs,” Hastler said. “We kinda shuffled the lineup and changed our approach, so we’d have the ability to get them on, over and in.
“Michelle Brumfield gave us a little excitement with our slug bunt. We hit some solid shots tonight, but when you work on something in practice, call it in the game and execute it, that gives the girls a lift and is exciting for them.”
Cantrell gave the Vikings a 1-0 lead in the second with a solo homer over the center field fence.
Teays Valley doubled its lead in the fourth.
Kennedy Cauger worked a walk to start the home at-bat and was joined on the base pads when Brumfield reached on a slug bunt. Following a double play that took Cauger off the bases, Kadance Fraley doubled to center to drive in Brumfield from second.
The Vikings scored their final two runs in the fifth.
Alyssa Brown reached on a fielder’s choice with two outs, Cantrell singled to center and Cauger doubled to center to drive in both runners.
Circleville reached the scoreboard in the sixth.
Chandler Hayes singled to center with one out and Alyssa Liston worked a walk. Cara Cooper then doubled to center to drive in both runners.
“I like our lineup and Cara has hit like that all season as one of our top players,” Truex said.
Cooper paced the Tigers by going 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI.
Madison Cline allowed five hits and two earned runs in a complete game effort to earn the win. The TV senior walked two and struck out three.
“We have a goal that two of the three pitches we throw to a batter are strikes 80 percent of the time and Madison hit that goal tonight,” Hastler said. “She did a nice job of attacking the zone, missing barrels and letting the defense make plays behind her. Overall, our girls did a nice job of making the routine play.”
After winning four games a season ago with the youngest team in the league, Truex feels the Tigers have made some gains this season with 11 wins so far and a sixth seed out of 19 teams for the upcoming Division II Southeast District tournament.
“It’s a process and, frankly, these kids were really hurt by COVID-19,” he said. “Five of them would’ve played and learned from the six seniors we had that season, but instead there was no season in 2020 due to the pandemic. Last year, it was totally new for them, not having many seniors to learn from and (assistant coach Jada Truex) looked at me at one point and said, ‘Dad, not one of them know what you are talking about.'”
“We’ve made quite a bit of progress this season and if you told me we’d be 11-5 right now, 6-5 in the league with four losses to Teays Valley and Bloom-Carroll before the season, I would’ve taken it.”
The Tigers are slated to continue league play on Wednesday against Hamilton Township.