By Randy Arrington
SHENANDOAH, June 3 — For the second time in three days, the Page County Panthers came from behind to earn a win in the postseason. Following a 3-2, walk-off win in Wednesday’s semifinal against Clarke, Page County overcame a four-run deficit on Friday to capture the Region B championship, 10-7, over district-rival East Rockingham.
The Eagles jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning and held the home-standing Panthers in check in their first two trips to the plate. Junior Jocelyn Rinker provided a two-run double for Page in the third that tied the game at 2-2.
East Rock opened the game up in the fourth with four earned runs off five hits that forced a pitching change from Page’s usual starter, sophomore Bailee Gaskins, to freshman Karleigh Austin. The Eagles held a 6-2 lead before Page answered back with two runs in the bottom of the inning off a fielder’s choice from senior Taylor Umberger and an RBI-single from sophomore Savannah Shifflett.
The Panthers put up five more runs in the fifth to flip a 6-4 deficit into a 9-6 lead. Shifflett provided a two-run double during the inning, but Page picked up three other runs off a hit batter, a walk and stealing home when Gaskins caught the East Rock pitcher nodding.
Each team added a run in the sixth, as the margin remained at three heading into the seventh. Page picked up its run off a sacrifice fly from senior Kirsten Hensley.
While Austin gets the win on the mound, Gaskins came back into the circle to finish things up in the seventh as the Panthers closed out a Region B championship.
With the win, Page County (17-7) earns the right to host a state quarterfinal next week. The Region B champion Panthers will host the Region A runner-up Cougars of Nottoway County (8-10) on Tuesday (time TBD). The Cougars fell, 8-1, in the Region A title game to the Statesmen of Randolph-Henry.
With the loss, Region B runner-up East Rockingham (18-7) will travel to Region A champion Randolph-Henry (21-2) for Tuesday’s state quarterfinal. The two other state quarterfinals feature Region C champion Appomattox (21-0) hosting Region D runner-up Tazwell (18-4), and Region D champion Central Wise hosting Region C runner-up Dan River (18-3).
Winners will advance to the VHSL Class 2 softball state semifinals at the 2022 Spring Jumbilee in Salem on Friday, June 10. Semifinal winners will square-off on Saturday, June 11 for the state championship.
Tickets for state playoff games must be purchased online through the Virginia High School League. Cost is $10 per ticket, plus a $1.50 service charge.
Tickets will NOT be sold at the gate during the state tournament.
For full schedules, rosters and standings — check out the Bull Run District website.