When opportunity knocks, you better be ready to open the door.
You could make a good argument the Lady Knights softball team knocked the door down with a final-inning rally in the regular-season River Ridge final against rival Hidden Valley that gave Cave Spring the 11-8 win and the district title all in one swoop.
Cave Spring had entered the contest in a tie with Salem, both teams with 8-1 records in district play. With Hidden Valley at 1-8 and Salem’s opponent, Pulaski County, 3-6, the there appeared to be a high probability that a one-game playoff between the Knights and Spartans was on the horizon to crown the champion.
Hidden Valley, with little on the line, brought all their fight and gave the Knights all they could handle most of the afternoon.
Cave Spring looked poised to make this a cakewalk when they scored four times in the top of the first. Sophomore Abby Beatty led off with a homer over the left-center field fence. After a walk and fielders choice grounder, Kylie Kent connected for a double, giving the Knights a 2-0 lead. Pami White followed with a single, and with runners at second and third, Madi Billings delivered a 2-RBI single for a 4-0 Cave Spring advantage.
Hidden Valley stormed back in their half of the opening frame. Maleigh Lombard, Madi Cupp and Savannah Kramer opened singles, and when Sophia Robinette was hit by a pitch, the Titans were on the board. Kaileigh Yancey plated two with a single, and a fielders choice and umpire reversal on a close play at first gave Hidden Valley a 5-4 lead.
The Knights retook the lead in the second on a 2-RBI single by Pami White, but Hidden Valley, with a bases loaded walk in the bottom half, knotted things up at six.
Hidden Valley went up 7-6 in the fourth on a leadoff homer by Yancey, and the teams traded single runs heading into the top of the seventh.
At that point, word filtered down that Salem had lost 5-4 at Pulaski County.
“I found out the Salem final, and simply told the girls the opportunity was out there,” Cave Spring head coach Nick Sharp said; “The door was open.”
Cave Spring answered with hits from Kent, Billings, Beatty and Alayna Francis, sandwiched around a Titan error to score four runs and take an 11-8 lead. Hidden Valley was unable to muster a final comeback rally.
“We’re a very young team,” Sharp pointed out. “I have a lot of faith in these girls and we’re alway looking for consistancy. We want to continue to improve.”
Cave Spring starter Taylor Asimakopoulos escaped further early damage when Hidden Valley left the bases loaded in the first and second innings, and had two runners in motion in the third before Knight outfielded Cassie Parulis gunned down a Titan runner at third on a throw from right field.
by Bill Turner