By John Shifflett / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
Jordan Aylor delivered another stellar performance on the mound and the Madison County softball team used solid defense and timely runs to defeat Rappahannock County 5-0 in the Bull Run District semifinals on Wednesday night in Madison.
Aylor pitched a complete-game two-hitter and was backed up by a Madison defense that played error-free ball in dispatching the Panthers. Aylor helped herself by throwing out several batters who tried to reach base on bunt attempts.
“She pitched well,” said Madison coach Jesse Yowell, whose team improved to 17-4. “She hustles well and she kept (Rappahannock) down.”
Aylor used a potent combination of blazing fastballs and knee-buckling off-speed pitches to strike out five batters and stymie the Rappahannock order. When the Panthers did make contact, the ball rarely got out of the infield. Aylor registered nine groundouts as well as several short fly outs. The junior took a perfect game into the sixth inning as she improved to 16-4.
While Aylor and the Madison defense sizzled, the Mountaineer bats were cold at times. Madison managed just six hits off Rappahannock pitcher Megan Early.
“We didn’t hit the ball again,” Yowell said. “We haven’t been hitting the ball as well as we could the past few games.”
The Mountaineers were able to make the most of their on-base chances thanks to savvy base running and several Rappahannock miscues.
Madison delivered a decisive blow in the first inning when it was able to plate two runs on a sacrifice fly from Amber Robson. Robson’s deep hit to the outfield allowed Casey Racer to score from third, but an error by the Panthers allowed Aylor to come around from second base and add a second run. The play immediately put Rappahannock in a 2-0 hole and on its heels.
“It’s important,” said Yowell of getting an early lead. “It relaxes the players and puts pressure on the opposing team.”
The Panthers never threatened as Madison added a pair of runs in the fourth inning and another run in the sixth.
Now a date with Clarke County in the Bull Run District tournament championship awaits the Mountaineers on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Madison. The Mountaineers and Eagles split their regular-season series. Madison defeated Clarke County 11-0 in Madison but lost 5-2 to the Eagles on the road. The loss to Clarke County was Madison’s only blemish in district play.