Exciting pitching match-ups come and go in Region 7-AAA softball, but the best one may have been saved for last.
Such was the case when the Lady Trojans ended their regular season in dramatic fashion with a 1-0 win against West Hall on Tuesday night in Oakwood.
Strong pitching and defense dominated the majority of the game, with the two teams combining for 19 strikeouts and nine hitless innings.
“It was everything we thought it would be,” North Hall coach Roger Fannon said. “The game didn’t mean anything in the region standings but we knew it would be intense.”
Much of the Lady Trojans’ (13-10-1, 3-3 Region 7A-AAA) defensive success came from the heroics of junior Megan Rogers, who struck out 12 hitters and allowed only two hits, increasing her regular-season strikeout total to 176 — a single-season school record.
Rogers was also responsible for the only run of the game off an RBI single in the sixth inning.
“It feels great to end the season this way,” Rogers said. “Hard work paid off.”
The Spartans (19-9, 5-0 Region 7B-AAA) kept the basepaths quiet for most of the game as well.
Losing pitcher, junior Emily Hammond struck out seven hitters and pitched a no-hitter through three innings.
“I knew coming into this ballgame that they were just as good as we were,” Rogers said. “They’re a very good team.”
The game began with three hitless innings that consisted of 12 strikeouts, including five in a row from Hammond over the span.
Hammond lost her no-hitter in the fourth inning when North Hall’s Brittany Smith singled to left. Smith stole second base, but was stranded.
Hammond then ended Rogers’ perfect game bid with a single of her own in the bottom of the fourth, but was also left on base.
The Lady Trojans made contact again in the sixth inning, this time with better results. After Kelsey Gibbs hit a leadoff double, Chelsea Clever added a double of her own, putting runners in scoring position.
Rogers delivered in the next at-bat with a pop-fly that dropped in a center field gap, allowing Gibbs to score.
Rogers then struck out four hitters in the last two innings to protect North Hall’s lead, including the final out of the game.
With the regular season now over, the Lady Trojans enter the region tournament as the No. 7 seed, and must win against No. 10 seeded East Hall at 5:55 p.m. Monday to advance to the next round of the tournament.
The winner of that game plays No. 2 seeded West Hall at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday.
“Tomorrow we get right back to work and get ready for our first (region tournament) game,” Fannon said.