Cave Spring’s run to the VHSL Class 3 softball title came up one game short Saturday morning at the Moyer Sports Complex in Salem.
It wasn’t balls over the fence or a barrage of extra base hits that doomed the Knights. It was the 3,600 square feet that make up the infield that proved to be the thorn of defeat.
Taking advantage of spectacular bunting prowess and unstopable speed on the bases, Tabb High School from Yorktown pulled away for the 9-2 win that culminated their first state softball title and a perfect 26-0 season.
“We just didn’t pull through today,” Cave Spring senior first baseman Gabbi Parulis noted matter-of-factly after the loss. “Their small ball killed us and they were very fast, and I mean very fast.”
Cave Spring came into the final riding timely hitting from top-to-bottom out of its lineup, and strong pitching from sophomore sensation Abby Weaver who had twirled three straight shutouts, including a regional final win over Staunton River and back-to-back state victories over Turner Ashby on Tuesday and Liberty on Friday, leading up to Saturday morning’s showdown.
But, unlike the prior three, the Tigers from Tabb couldn’t be caged.
“They were the fastest team we’ve played,” Weaver noted before exiting the Moyer Complex. “We even hit a lot of balls to the outfield that looked like hits, but were caught. Their fielders covered a lot of ground.”
When asked if the grind of three straight high profile games in 5 days took its toll, Weaver didn’t dodge the challenge she faced.
“It’s not impossible to do it, but I think with all the bunts, stolen bases and their speed, I was getting mentally tired. Plus, the further you go, the teams keep getting better.”
Cave Spring looked fired up in the first inning, batting in the visitors spot, and scoring two quick runs after singles from 2-spot hitter Taylor Loving and Weaver. That would prove to be the last runs the Knights would score.
Tabb scored one run in the bottom of the first to cut their deficit to 2-1, but the Tigers plated 5 runs in the third on a succession of bunts, stolen bases, beating out throws and one bloop single. That put Tabb up 6-2, and a single Tiger run in the fourth, and two more in the fifth that included a stolen base, squeeze bunt and infield dribbler were icing on the cake.
Weaver was already looking ahead to what should be another strong Cave Spring team in 2019.
“Let’s see….today is Saturday, so I’ll take Sunday off and be back at it working on my pitching on Monday.”
When the going gets tough, the tough get going.