Salem High softball season comes to disappointing end

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Haellie Gordon pitches at Byrd. PHOTO BY BILLY POWELL

The wagon that is the Salem High girls’ softball team was rolling right along until the wheels fell off Monday. Salem’s season came to an end with an 11-0 slaughter rule loss to William Byrd in Vinton in the Conference 24 semifinal.

“It was a very disappointing loss,” said Salem coach Sara Beth Walton. “I was pretty upset Monday night. Byrd is good, but we’re better than that.”

Salem trailed just 1-0 before the Terriers exploded. Byrd batted around in the bottom of the fifth and Mara Strum’s grand slam home run ended the game by slaughter rule for a walk-off home run. Two errors that inning opened the flood gates and Salem never could get them shut.

Walton didn’t see it coming. Last week Salem ended the regular season with two impressive wins. The Spartans beat Lord Botetourt at the Moyer Complex in nine innings on a walk-off home run by Liz Warren. Then, on Thursday, they beat Pulaski County, 2-0, on an eight strikeout complete game by ace Haellie Gordon.

Salem opened conference play Saturday against William Fleming at the complex and Reagan Owens got the start. All she did was pitch a perfect game against the Colonels, retiring all 15 batters she faced in a 16-0 win.

So, you could see how the Spartans would be optimistic as they met Byrd on Monday with a regional berth on the line. For four innings it was a heck of a game, then the wheels came off. Salem finished the season with a 13-9 record.

“We had a good season but I wanted to go farther,” said Walton. “I think we really improved this year. We’re going to miss our seniors but we have some good girls coming up. We’ll be back in the batting cage soon getting ready for next year.”