RADFORD, Va. – Madison County pitcher Emily Seale’s performance on Thursday morning is one the Mountaineer faithful will not forget anytime soon.
Seale’s two-run homer and nine strikeouts pushed Madison County past Lebanon by a score of 2-0 in Thursday’s VHSL Class 2 Softball state semifinals at Radford University.
“What can you say? A two-run homer wins the game for us. She has the potential to get that big pop. That uplifted everybody,” said Madison County skipper Jesse Yowell. “Emily did a great job hitting her spots, doing what she had she had to do, working the inside, outside—the changeup was good today. She did an excellent job on the mound today.”
For Seale, the mindset for her two-run blast in the fourth was simple.
“As soon as I came across the plate, Bailey Smith was like, ‘you just reared back and smacked it, didn’t you?’ ” said Seale, the Madison County hurler. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I did.’ ”
The feeling Seale had when she saw the neon Wilson bash into the scoreboard at Radford University’s Softball Field will be one that is hard to top.
“It was pretty amazing, It’s like no feeling like no other. I knew the strike was coming. I had a full count. I was like she’s gonna pitch a strike because she had no other choice,” said the Mountaineers junior pitcher. “I know it’s coming, I just gotta get a base hit but of course I got a home run instead.”
The nine o’clock tilt began as a defensive showdown. Madison County’s Bailey Smith reached base on a single in the first before Sophia Adams reached base via the walk a batter later. Both Mountaineers were left stranded in the first to keep zeroes on the scoreboard.
Lebanon’s Abby Compton was the next base runner of the contest when she reached base on a single in the third before she also was left stranded.
During the first three frames, however, both Seale and Morrison had no problem finding their spots out of the circle for their respective squads.
Morrison fanned six of the first 11 batters she faced for the red and black, while Seale also fanned six of the first 10 she went toe to toe with.
By the time the fourth rolled around, both squads were due for a run.
Bailey Smith led off the fourth frame for the Mountaineers with a walk. Two batters later, the Madison County ace dug in with hopes of bringing her defensive success to the plate.
Seale awaited a 3-2 from her counterpart and sent it into orbit to put her squad on the board at 2-0.
The blast gave her comfort as she returned to the circle.
“They make me feel a little bit more relieved that we got some runs in. The whole game I was like, we need to get the runs on the board before they do so we are not under pressure,” said Seale. “We have been in that position quite a lot this year. We’ve been under pressure and we had to come back.”
After the Madison County home run, Lebanon looked to get some run support of its own.
Morrison, the Pioneers sophomore ace, faced the minimum in the three innings that followed the Seale dinger to cap off an evening in which she fanned eight.
However, the Pioneers were unable to capitalize on singles from Morrison and Haley Finney in the latter three innings.
As Compton’s high fly ball rested into the glove of Mountaineers second baseman Bailey Smith, the celebration was on.
Seale’s two-run shot was enough to seal the deal for the Mountaineers.
The 2-0 victory punched Madison County’s ticket to the Class 2 state championship contest today at 9 a.m. where they will face another Southwest Virginia foe, Richlands, in a rematch of the 2017 Class 2 state championship.
“The whole team is really excited. They know that feeling from back in 2017,” said Yowell. “That’s what they want again. That is what they have worked all year for.”
On a day where her two-run shot will be remembered by the masses in attendance at Radford University, Seale’s 9 K performance from the circle will not be forgotten by Madison County’s junior slinger.
“I think everything was working for me. They either stood really on the plate or really off the plate,” said Seale. “They were not touching the ball if I got it on the outside or the inside where they were not.”
Lebanon finishes its season at 19-8 and in the state semifinals for the third consecutive season.
The Pioneers skipper praised his team’s effort after the heartbreaking loss.
“Adrienne did such a great job on the mound. Things like that happen. Our kids still battled back. We had runners in scoring position twice,” said Lebanon’s emotional boss Dennis Price. “We couldn’t get a big hit when we needed it to cut into that lead. We even had a chance to tie, it just didn’t happen for us there.” We have no complaints about anything. We had every opportunity in the world. That was the difference in the game, they got the big hit and we didn’t. That’s the bottom line I think.”
Although the Pioneers came up short of their ultimate goal, Price reflected on the journey to Radford.
“We don’t wanna dwell on all the negatives. We had a great season and a great group of kids,” Price said. “They worked real hard. It is just life lessons.”