Auburn’s Skyler DeHart pitched a one-hitter to out-duel Craig County ace Olivia Garman in the Conference 45 softball semifinal last Thursday. Auburn took a 6-1 win to eliminate the Rockets from post-season play.
This was a big one, as the Rockets had defeated Auburn in New Castle the Friday prior. Auburn was the host for this game and a guaranteed spot in the Region 1A West tournament was on the line. Auburn not only took that spot, but got a home game when the Eagles beat Parry McCluer in Friday’s conference championship game, 4-1.
Garman struck out five for the Rockets in her last high school game and pitched well, but DeHart was even better, allowing just one hit. Hannah Lipes had a first inning single and eventually scored on a ground out RBI by Jaci McAlwee, but that was all the Rockets could muster.
Craig started the tournament with a 9-0 shutout win over Radford in New Castle. Garman pitched a shutout and fanned seven in that one and Keiley Dudding and McAlwee had three hits each. Shaleigh Mayo and Garman both drove in two runs as that win set up the showdown between Craig and Auburn and the Eagles came out on top.
The Rockets finished the season with an 11-9 overall record. Coach Trent Lipes was hoping for better back in March, but he was pleased with how the girls played in the second half of the season.
“We started off 2-7 and finished up 9-2,” he said. “We beat Auburn, so we proved we could beat a good team, but we didn’t get consistent hitting.”
Craig will lose five seniors, including three girls who made first team All-Pioneer District. Olivia Garman was first team on the mound and Hannah Lipes and Olivia Menezes were both first team in the outfield. The other two seniors were Mayo, who was a second team outfielder, and Savannah Looney, who was honorable mention at second base despite missing a good portion of the season with an injury.
Lipes will have a solid nucleus returning, including first team All-Pioneer selections Tierrney Zysk and Kaylee Pauley. Mackenzie Hutchinson was a second team selection and other youngsters like Keiley Dudding and Jaci McAlwee came on strong at the end of the season. Maddy Oliver made the varsity as a freshman and the jayvee team only lost one game.
“The jayvee team was awesome,” said Lipes. “It’s tough to make the transition from jayvee to varsity, because the pitching is so much better, but we have some girls who could be pretty good. If we can replace Olivia(Garman) on the mound we should be okay next year.”