FALLING ROCK, W.Va. -- Sissonville erased the demons of two games that got away against Herbert Hoover earlier this season by jumping on the Huskies early and not letting up as the visiting Indians won the Class AA Region 4 softball semifinal game 7-3 Thursday night.
After losing each of their previous meetings by a single run, Sissonville (16-12) knew it could play with Hoover (23-4) and set out to prove it from the start of the game. Katelyn Linville started the first inning with a triple and was brought in when Bekah Baldwin blasted a long home run to put the Indians ahead 2-0.
"I knew I had two strikes and two balls on that count," Baldwin said. "I knew that it might not be a pitch to hit but it was so I just went with it."
Sissonville was back at it again in the second inning when freshman Reagan Johnson led off with her first career home run. Hoover answered in its half of the second when Zoey Carte singled to drive in McKenzie Edmonds.
Haynes doubled and scored in the third before a Karli Pinkerton double in the fourth scored Andrea Harmon and Jamie Holmes to extend the Sissonville lead to 6-1.
Sissonville played without head coach Nikki Gross, who was suspended by Sissonville principal Ron Reedy for the game after playing a scrimmage on Wednesday against Ripley after the students had WESTEST testing earlier that day. Gross told the Gazette she did not know she was breaking any rules and that she had only been told not to play games the week of May 13th.
Assistant Andrea Lewis coached the Indians in Gross' absence. She moved Baldwin to first base and brought Haynes in to pitch in the fifth inning to keep Hoover off balance because, according to Lewis, in each of the previous losses the Huskies had started to get Baldwin's timing down in the later innings.
"We have prepared so much over the last week," Lewis said. "These girls have put in their time off and put in all the little things to fix their mistakes."
Hoover scored in the sixth on a Kati Angle double that drove in Ashleigh Tignor. Both teams would add a run in the seventh inning, but when the game ended it was Sissonville that celebrated on the Huskies' field.
"It wasn't our night tonight, that's for sure," Hoover coach Missy Smith said. "They definitely looked sharper than we did both at the plate and in the field."
Baldwin said the team had talked about how the previous meetings with Hoover had ended and said they were confident in their abilities but aware that it could happen again.
"Everybody doubted us and we proved them wrong," she said. "We just talked about it. It happened in the last inning, we have to bear down because we know it can happen again. We weren't overconfident but we were confident we could win."
Huskies pitcher Allison Rager didn't have her best performance, allowing 13 hits.
"She left some pitches fat that they jumped on and they hit some good pitches, too," Smith said. "We didn't always make our outs and that didn't help."
Sissonville advances to play at defending Class AA state champion Wayne next Thursday for the Region 4 championship and a trip to the state tournament.
Reach Tom Bragg at firstname.lastname@example.org.