By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, June 2 — High school coaches always look for their seniors to show up big in big time games and in Friday’s Region 2B championship, Page County’s Jocelyn Rinker did not disappoint. The Division I talent, who will play for Radford next spring, went a perfect 3-for-3, including two home runs and a double. The first team All-District first baseman batted in four of the Panthers’ six runs in a 6-0 shutout victory over Strasburg.
Page County (23-3) has now won 16 in-a-row after capturing their second-straight Region 2B title in softball on Friday. In three games this week, the Panthers outscored their opponents 20-0 during the region tournament. Since their last loss on April 18, Page has recorded nine shutouts and only allowed a total of 14 runs in the last 15 games, while scoring 120 runs themselves during that same stretch.
The Panthers now advance to the VHSL Class 2 state tournament, which begins June 6. On Tuesday, Page will host Region A runner-up Poquoson at 5 p.m. in a quarterfinal round matchup. Tickets to state tournament games must be purchased in advance from VHSL.
During Friday’s Region 2B championship, Page held the lead the entire way. The Panthers got on the board in the first inning off a sacrifice fly from junior Baliee Gaskins, and then added three more in the third off a two-run home run from Rinker and an error. Rinker struck again in the fourth with her second, two-run home run to give Page County a 6-0 lead after four innings.
With the exception of one walk, no Strasburg batters reached base until the fifth inning, when junior relief pitcher Kiersten Wiseley broke up Gaskins’ no hitter with a single to shallow left field. The only real scoring threat the Rams posed came in the sixth, when they posted three of their four hits for the game. However, Strasburg would strand two of three runners for the day.
Gaskins recorded her 11th shutout of the season, allowing only four hits, while striking out eight and walking one. Sophomore Emma Lucas continues to be a consistent contributor at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double and a single. Page recorded a total of six hits and left four runners on base during the game. While the Panthers played flawless in the field, the Rams had trouble with some misplayed balls in the outfield.
Page won all three contests with Strasburg this season, with the closest decision being 2-0 on April 21.
Strasburg (16-8) also advances to the state tournament next week and will travel to Region A champion King William on Tuesday, June 6. The state semifinals and finals will be held in Salem on Friday and Saturday, June 9-10. Tickets to state tournament games must be purchased in advance from VHSL.
Visit the Softball page on the Virginia High School League (VHSL) website to learn more information about the state tournament, including ticket information.