FAIRLEA, WV- The incredible 2023 season has come to an end for the Greenbrier East Lady Spartans after a tough, heartbreaking 8-inning, 3-2 loss to the George Washington Lady Patriots on Friday, May 19 at Spartan Field in Fairlea.
GW’s Addie Armstrong hit a home run to left center field in the top of the eighth frame and it proved to be the difference and the nail in the Spartans coffin.
The stage was set for this one to be a big game, and what was most likely the biggest crowd to ever watch a game on that field, showed up on both sides.
The Patriot fans try to do their best Oklahoma State Cowboys impersonation by bringing cowbells and ringing them repeatedly. At one point, I forgot I was at a softball game and turned around to see how many cattle had escaped the barn. The Spartan parents and students filled the bleachers on the home side, and the left field fence was three rows deep with fans eager to see a Spartan victory.
Unfortunately, they were left with a sour taste in their mouths, but it was a great playoff game that was back-and-forth all evening.
East overcame a Passion Holley triple in the first inning and left her stranded at third to keep the game scoreless after the top of the first.
The Spartans then returned the favor and left runners on second and third in the bottom half after GW pitcher Alexis Adkins struck out Alanis McClary to escape their own jam.
The Patriots got on the board first with an unearned run in the top of the third after Addisyn Kelly scored on a bunt attempt that turned into an error at first base, but Ervin remained calm and got out of the inning with little damage done.
Holley drove in the next Patriot run on a sac fly to right field that brought Kelly home for her second run of the night, and at that point, GW extended their lead to 2-0.
With momentum seeming to slowly fade away, East grabbed it and brought it back to their dugout. Three consecutive singles from Hailey Ervin, Jo. Ervin and Lindsey Black set up a sac fly from Boswell that scored Ha. Ervin, and her sister, Jo. Ervin came around to score after the throw got away from the third baseman. East had knotted the score at 2-2 after five.
Neither team could break through in regulation, however, even when the Spartans had the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, but a groundout sent it to extras, and that is where the Pats capitalized.
Armstrong led off the inning and on a 1-0 count, belted her homer that gave GW the lead for good.
Black hit a hard ground ball to Kelly at shortstop who made the play, and George Washington jumped and celebrated on enemy turf.
Jo. Ervin went 3-5 and scored a run to lead the Spartans. She also pitched eight innings, gave up just one earned run and stuck out seven batters. She finished the series with 15 strikeouts in 17.1 innings.
Adkins also went the distance on the other side. She allowed just one earned run, walked four and struck out two. She pitched all 21 innings and gave up 31 hits and had just seven strikeouts. East hit her well, but could not get the timely, clutch hit when they needed it most.
East finished their season at 24-7 and will hit the field again in the spring of 2024.
The team loses three seniors in Jo. Ervin, Black and Olivia Plybon, but the Spartans have no weak links, and will be back strong again next season.