There were two certainties Tuesday evening at Fuzzy Minnix Field in Southwest Roanoke County.
Two All-State caliber pitchers were squaring off in the circle for their respective teams. And, it was a no-brainer that the Knights were going to win.
Unfortunately for the Cave Spring Knights and their faithful, it was too much Makayla Cyzick as the Turner Ashby Knights pulled out the 3-0 win to advance to the Class 3 state semifinals this Friday at the Moyer Complex in Salem.
Striking out 15, Cyzick kept Cave Spring off balance all evening, using an impressive assortment of pitches that was just enough to out duel an equally tough performance by Cave Spring’s Abby Weaver, who held the Bridgewater version of Knights to two hits.
Turner Ashby was looking to avenge a 4-0 loss to Cave Spring in last year’s quarterfinals, and Cyzick had the formula.
“We knew we were up against it with Cave Spring,” Cyzick, a senior, noted after the win. “They beat us 4-0 last year and we worked on small things to be prepared for today. I was in a groove, using all my pitches and mixing it up. In the last inning Cave Spring was 60- feet from scoring and I knew I had to bear down.”
“No words can describe this win,” she added with a beaming smile. “It’s an amazing feeling.”
“After last year, this was absolutely great,” Turner Ashby head coach Clint Curry said as his team celebrated with their fans. “These girls stepped up and stayed cool. Cave Spring is a very good team. Hats off to our pitcher. She came through for us big today.”
Turner Ashby wasted no time getting on the scoreboard and it was Cyzick that got things rolling in the top of the first after drawing a two-out walk on an eleven-pitch at-bat. Courtesy runner Delanie Propst promptly stole second on the next pitch and advanced to third on a passed ball. Junior cleanup hitter Kaylin Howard followed with a laser that skipped off second baseman Taylor Smithson’s glove into center to plate Propst for a 1-0 lead.
Turner Ashby added two more in the third after sophomore Gracie Moyers singled with one out, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch. A Cave Spring infield error allowed Moyers to score and sent senior Carley Davis to second on the errant throw to first. Cyzick then helped her own cause with a single to left for what would prove to be the final score of the day.
Cave Spring had its chances, but couldn’t crack Cyzick for a run. Junior Logan Scott reached third in the second, but a strikeout ended the threat. Emma Fields got Cave Spring’s first hit with one out in the fifth, but was left at first after a popup to third and strikeout.
Cave Spring looked to be in business in the sixth after Weaver doubled down the right field line with one out and sophomore catcher Mikayla Ray blooped a dying quail to right that barely escaped a diving attempt by the Turner Ashby outfielder. But, Cyzick fanned the next two batters to end the rally.
In the Cave Spring seventh Smithson led off with a walk. Two outs later sophomore Sierra Cox doubled to left-center to put runners at second and third, and bringing the potential tying run to the plate. But, Cyzick was up to the task at hand, getting her 15th strikeout to end the game, leaving Weaver in the on-deck circle. Cyzick upped her record to 22-4 with the win.
“They were a very good team,” Weaver, who finished the season 21-6, noted of Turner Ashby afterward. “Things just happen. No one play cost us the game. We’re really aggressive hitters and we probably swung at some pitches we shouldn’t have. I was really hoping to get to bat in the last inning. It just didn’t work out. We’ll be back”