How does Sydney Nester make up for allowing season-highs of eight hits and three runs? By striking out a career-high 21 and going 4-for-5 with a walk-off single, that’s how.
Nester’s single off the fence in left center scored Kyndall Hiatt in the bottom of the 10th inning, allowing Carroll County (16-0, 12-0 River Ridge District) to finish off an epic 4-3 come-from-behind River Ridge District victory over Blacksburg in Hillsville. The game did not finish until 10:30 p.m. as the Cavaliers completed their third consecutive unbeaten season in River Ridge District play on a Senior Night that saw Cavaliers Jena Alley, Kyndall Hiatt and Jeannie Utt honored before the contest.
“It was nice to be able to get the win with all the people that turned out, plus it being on Senior Night, the atmosphere made for a very good crowd here,” Carroll County head coach Rick Nester said. “The outcome was great for a tight game like that.”
Nester threw a whopping 177 pitches in the contest as Blacksburg took leads of 1-0 and then 3-1 in the top of the eighth with the game going into extra innings. She also walked four, but made up for it with the career-high 21 strikeouts and a huge night at the plate. Had it not been for her 10th-inning heroics, the Cavaliers would have been forced to make a pitching change soon.
“We had talked about that. She has pitched 10 innings before, but not that number of pitches. She had done that early this year (in a doubleheader) against Patrick Henry, but the pitch count wasn’t that high,” Rick Nester said. “It wouldn’t have been much longer before we had to look at making a change. But she kept us in the game with the pitching part and then turned around and had the game-winning RBI.”
Blacksburg took a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning as Brooke Anderson, who went 3-for-5 for the Bruins, reached on a bunt single, took second on an error, and then scored on Katie Currin’s RBI single to left. Carroll struggled against Blacksburg pitcher Robyn Mann, who struck out 13 and walked four in 9.1 innings of work.
The Cavs finally got on the board in the bottom of the sixth as Chasity Tompkins worked hard for a walk, then took second on a Kyndall Hiatt sacrifice bunt. With two outs, Emily Cook blasted an RBI double to center to score Tompkins and tie the game at 1-all. Sydney Nester followed with a single, but Cook was held up at third and Carroll couldn’t bring her home.
After a scoreless seventh inning, the game went into extra innings and the Bruins struck first with a pair of runs in the top of the eighth. Anderson reached on a leadoff single and took second on Alaina Lafon’s sacrifice bunt. She then scored on Currin’s RBI double before Morgan McCoy added a run-scoring single to put Blacksburg in front 3-1.
The Cavaliers refused to give up, however, and Hiatt led off the bottom half of the eighth with a double to left center. With one out, Hiatt would score on a booming triple to right by Cook. Carroll retied the game at 3-all on a Nester RBI single to left. Katie McKenzie walked and the Cavs had runners at second and third after a passed ball, but couldn’t plate the winning run.
A new tiebreaker rule in softball gives both teams a runner at second base to start the 10th inning. Anderson began the 10th at second for the Bruins and she moved to third on another sacrifice bunt from Lafon. But this time Nester whiffed both Currin and McCoy to end the inning without a run scoring.
In the bottom half of the 10th, Hiatt began the inning at second. After Cook drew a one-out walk, Nester ended the game with her rocket single off the fence in left center.
“They scored two on us to go up 3-1 and the girls responded again in the bottom of the eighth to send it into another inning,” Rick Nester said. “I thought they did a very good job of fighting back twice in late innings to keep it going, and then in the tenth inning we were at the top of our lineup. Blacksburg is a good team. They beat Patrick County in extra innings. Ever since we played them at their place, I don’t think they had lost but one or two games. Their pitcher did a good job of changing up speeds and they played great defense throughout the night.”
Nester went 4-for-5 with an RBI to lead Carroll at the plate, while Cook was 2-for-4 with a run and 2 RBI. Chloe Easter also had a hit for the Cavs. Hiatt went 2-for-4 and scored two big runs, but she also made a huge play behind the plate, gunning down Blacksburg’s Kaitlyn Heinze trying to steal second base for the third out in the seventh inning.
Bburg 000 100 020 0 – 3 8 1
Carroll 000 001 020 1 – 4 8 2
Mann and Anderson (B); Nester and Hiatt (CC). WP – Nester. LP – Mann. 2B – Currin (B); Hiatt, Cook (CC). 3B – Cook (CC).