Cave Spring sophomore Abby Beatty doesn’t come across as a power-hitting softball player at first glance. But, a cute smile and soft voice can be misleading if you’re the opposing pitcher.
And, one other word of advice. Better not throw it down the middle.
In a matchup for first place in the River Ridge District standings Friday afternoon at the Cave Spring softball complex, Beatty lauched a pair of monster home runs as the Lady Knights held on for the 4-3 win over the Salem Spartans.
Salem, which entered the contest undefeated in district play, now finds itself tied at 5-1 with Cave Spring, heading into the two team’s final four district games.
Friday’s game matched Salem starter Samantha Smith with Cave Spring ace Taylor Asimakopoulos. Although Asimakopoulos gave up nine hits to the Spartan’s talented lineup, it was her and her infield’s ability to get out of more jams than Smuckers that proved to be the deciding factor.
Cave Spring got on the scoreboad first in their initial at-bat when leadoff hitter Beatty stepped into the batters box and promptly sent Smith’s first pitch deep over the left-center field fence for a 1-0 Knight lead.
Salem countered with a pair of runs in the top of the fourth to go up 2-1, and seemed poised to add to that advantage in the fifth when they loaded the bases with one out.
But, Asimakopoulos struck out the next Salem batter and coaxed a slow roller to first for the third out to end the threat.
Cave Spring took advantage of the opening with a three-run fifth. After Alayna Francis reached on an error and was sacrificed to second, Beatty connected on a towering drive that everyone in the park knew was gone the second it left the bat. The Knights added another run after an Asimakopoulos single and Cortney Cooper double was followed by a sac-fly by Kylie Kent.
Still down 4-2 heading to the top of the seventh, Salem seemed ready for a big rally when they put runners at second and third with none out.
The next Spartan batter sent a slow roller down the third base line where Francis’ throw to first was late, and the relay to the plate was beat by the breaking Spartan runner from third, cutting the lead to 4-3.
But, Cave Spring caught a huge break on the play when, despite the two throws, the trailing Spartan runner stayed on second.
The Knights got the first out when Asimakopoulos snared a hot shot from the next batter, throwing to third for the force.
Francis then gloved a smash down the line, stepped on third and threw across the diamond for the game-ending double play.
“We got into some jams, but the girls kept their composure,” Cave Spring head coach NIck Sharp said afterward. “It was little things in our execution that got the win.”
The two big blasts from Beatty definitely didn’t hurt.
“She smoked both of them,” Sharp added. “Abby’s really been working hard.”
“I worked hard over the winter and hit a lot with my dad,” Beatty noted of her power surge that has now accounted for six homers on the season. “I look for my pitch and swing as hard as I can.”
“Give credit to the infield,” Asimakopoulos said of the numerous game-saving plays they executed. “That final double play was a great way to win one.”
Lexi Bryant and Kelsey Johnson each had a pair of hits for Salem.
by Bill Turner