State Champs - Grottoes tops Mechanicsville, 1-0, to win the ages 9-10 softball crown

BRIDGEWATER – Grottoes Little League’s ages 9-10 softball all-stars captured the Virginia state title with a 1-0 win over Mechanicsville Little League last Wednesday afternoon at Oakdale Park.

Grottoes completed its run in the state tourney with a 7-0 record and claimed a spot in the regional tournament in Tennessee.

To get there, Grottoes, which rolled past Gate City, 12-1, in the semifinals, had to get past a tough Mechanicsville team and ace pitcher Adrienne Smith, who had combined to outscore opponents 56-3 in pool play and topped McLean, 8-3, to claim a slot in the title tilt.

Grottoes’ starting pitcher, MaDee Arbaugh, worked around a one-out error in the top of the first, getting the hard-hitting Smith, Mechanicsville’s No. 3 hitter, to ground into a fielder’s choice at second. Arbaugh then induced cleanup hitter Julia Cuozzo to ground out to first to complete the inning.

The local squad plated the contest’s lone run in the bottom of the frame. Arbaugh led off with a single to center. Smith followed up by striking out the next two batters, before walking Taelor Ware and Makenna Miller to load the bases. Kendall Morris then blooped a single to left field to drive home Arbaugh for a 1-0 lead.

Mechanicsville threatened in the second, when, with one out, Arbaugh hit Courtney Wash. Hannah Perkins grounded into a fielder’s choice, but Kinsley Bajer reached on an error to put two runners on base. Arbaugh, however, struck out Bennett Carlton to escape the jam.

Both pitchers settled in after that, with Smith not allowing another runner until Morris reached on a one-out walk in the fourth. Smith, however, got a strikeout and groundout to strand the Grottoes runner at second.

Arbaugh allowed a leadoff single to Cuozzo in the top of the fourth, but retired the next three hitters to keep her shutout going.

A lengthy rain delay halted play at the start of the fifth. When play resumed, Mechanicsville’s Camryn Christian reached on a two-out infield single, but was left on base when Gabby Howard flew out to left field.

After Smith retired the Grottoes batters in order in the bottom of the fifth, Mechanicsville came to the plate in the top of the sixth for its last chance to rally.

Smith led off with an infield single in the hole between first and second base. Cuozzo then grounded out, allowing the tying run to advance to second. Ashley Owens then stepped to the plate and lofted a soft liner to center field, where Carly Ryder made a sliding catch and threw to second to double off Smith and secure the state title for Grottoes,

For the game, Grottoes managed just two hits and only put one runner on base after the first inning. None of that mattered, as Mechanicsville tallied just three hits and could not score against Arbaugh.
Grottoes 12, Gate City 1

The local all-stars’ bats were much hotter during the semifinals, when Grottoes rolled past Gate City, 12-1.

Ware’s RBI single in the first, scoring Arbaugh, gave Grottoes a 1-0 lead.

Morris, who got the start in the circle, worked around an error and a single to keep Gate City off the scoreboard in the bottom of the inning.

In the top of the second, Abby Campbell walked and Sara Turner singled to open the at bat. Two outs later, Ryder’s single to right plated both runs for a 3-0 edge.

Gate City threatened again in the bottom of the inning, with Sophie Dean reaching on an error and Maddy Wood on a fielder’s choice. Ryder, however, made another sliding catch in center, on a liner from Victoria Fansler, to potentially save a run or two. Following a walk, shortstop Bria Berricochoa made a nice backhanded play in the hole to cut down the runner at third base and keep the cushion at three runs.

The advantage moved to 4-0, when Miller singled and later scored when Gate City made an error on Campbell’s grounder.

Grottoes then took a commanding lead with four more runs in the fourth. Makenzie Dooms led off with a bunt single, Arbaugh reached on an error and Ryder blooped a single to left to load the bases. After a foul out, Ware delivered a three-run double off the base of the fence in right center. Morris added a RBI groundout on a bunt to third for a 8-0 Grottoes lead.

That would be more than enough for Morris, who picked up the win for Grottoes, which cruised to the 11-run victory.

The Grottoes squad, managed by Larissa Ware and coached by Melissa Alger and Richard Miller, also includes (not mentioned above) Madison Doss, Elizabeth Kurtz, Sierra Custer and Jayla Whetzel.

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