Keyser defeats Bluefield 17-14 in Class AA state opening round

May 22—south charleston — Two key takeaways from the opening round of Bluefield's AA state tournament softball shootout with Keyser Wednesday at Little Creek Park: 8 and 17.

The Golden Tornado used an eight-run first inning explosion to topple the Beavers 17-14 in a game that featured a little bit of everything and a whole lot of frustration for Bluefield (17-6) making its first-ever tournament appearance against a talented Keyser (26-9) squad making only its second appearance and first in a dozen years.

Although the BHS attack outhit Keyser 15-9, nine errors and 12 walks doomed the home team.

Keyser, using number 2 starter Leighton Johnson, a freshman, took maximum advantage of it all in a 39-minute first inning punctuated by Tayler Likens three-run homer, a line shot down the left field line. Her 18th round-tripper of the season put the Tornado in front. Likens was 3-for-4.

"Tayler is one of the top hitters in the state," beamed Coach Colton Jones, "and one of the reasons I am happy we made states is so that more people could see that talent. We have not been down here (tournament) and so she has been a hidden gem over much of the state."

However, if Keyser looked in the rear view mirror they would have seen Bluefield coming back all game long.

Scoring in every inning except the fifth, the Beavers put up four runs of their own in the opening stanza.

Abby Richardson, who went 3-for-6, singled in front of Taylor Mabry's hit and went to third when Mabry stole second. Grace Richardson walked to load the bases before Madison Lawson walked to force in Abby Richardson. Izzy Smith's walk brought Mabry home and Grace Richardson scored on a ground out before Lawson scored when Abby Matthews was hit by a pitch. After plating four in the inning, Bluefield left the bases loaded three of the 12 runners BHS stranded.

"That first inning was not something we do," said Grace Richardson.

"It was hard to battle through that, but I am pleased we came back the way we did. Our team never quits, they did not quit in this game and we will play hard in the next game. That's who Bluefield is."

Keyser answered with five second inning runs, another long inning (32 minutes) with long stretches of walks and couple of hits for KHS. Cosenza had another single, along with Felton and loaded the bases as the Tornado just kept a foot on the gas.

Once again, Bluefield answered in the bottom of the inning. Grace Richardson ripped a triple to the wall in right center, driving in Mabry and Smith plated Richardson with a sacrifice fly.

After the opening salvo, Bluefield actually outscored Keyser 14-9 in the see-saw battle.

"It is tough to try to come back when you get down by eight runs before even having a chance to bat but our girls, as they always do, played their hearts out and battled down to the very last out," noted Beaver head coach Justin Hall.

Smith settled down in mid-game, holding Keyser scoreless in the third, fourth and fifth innings. The Golden Tornado broke through for four runs in the sixth but Bluefield answered with a four-sport of its own and scored the final run in the bottom of the seventh.

Mabry was 2-for-4 for Bluefield and Izzy Smith was 2-for-3 with 2 runs batted in. Sophie Hall added a pair of hits for the Beavers.

Riley Felton had a strong day for Keyser with two hits, three runs scored and a pair of RBIs.

Johnson walked 10 but earned the win, learning just before game time she would start for Keyser.

"Leighton did a great job," said Cole. "Our potential starter, Rylee Mangold, had a hand issue so we made the decision and Leighton hung in there to give us a chance. I am so proud of her."

Keyer stayed in the winner's bracket while Bluefield awaited the winner of the Herbert Hoover-Winfield contest.

At Little Creek Park

Keyser.........8 5 0 0 0 4 0 — 17 9 0

Bluefield......4 2 1 2 0 0— 4 15 5

WP — Johnson. LP — Smith. HR — Keyser, T. Likens.