NEWPORT NEWS — In high school baseball, it's so simple: The coach says to the home-plate umpire, "Put him on." But in softball, you must go through the motions for the intentional walk, which is a little tougher given the underhanded pitching motion and the catcher being limited to certain parameters.
So, yes, Woodside was trying its best to walk Kecoughtan slugger Allyson Babinsack with a runner at second base. But Babinsack crowded the plate and crushed it anyway, and her two-run shot over the fence sparked the Warriors to a 7-1 win in the Monitor-Merrimac Conference semifinals at Stoney Run.
The top-seeded Warriors (17-1) trailed 1-0 at the time and had left six runners on base through three innings, five in scoring position. But Babinsack's blast to right-center field in the bottom of the fourth got things going Tuesday.
"I felt everybody's energy in the dugout come up," Babinsack said. "We were ready after that."
Kecoughtan added five runs in the fifth to turn what had "upset alert" written on it into a comfortable win. Pitcher Maddy Morris, who the previous day was named conference Player of the Year, struck out 13 while giving up four hits and a very uncharacteristic earned run.
The Warriors will face No. 3 Western Branch, a 4-1 winner over Grassfield, Thursday night in the final. Both teams are assured of a 6A South regional bid. Kecoughtan will open at home Monday against Ocean Lakes.
Woodside (8-11) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning on exactly what it needed to reach Morris: A bunt single, a stolen base, and two wild pitches. The Warriors left the sacks full in the first and runners at second and third in the second.
"We were just flat," Kecoughtan coach Mark Christman said. "We were missing pitches by four, five inches. The first (three) innings were kind of embarrassing."
Then came the fourth, which Morgen Salyers started with a one-out single. After she was sacrificed over to second, Babinsack came to the plate.
Woodside coach Mike Tallon wanted no part of her.
"I heard them talking about pitching around me and going to Kayla," said Babinsack, referring to the next hitter, Kayla Ehrlich. "And I didn't want that."
As catcher Savanah Murray set up as far outside as she could, Logan Walkosz's first pitch was at least two inches off the plate — but was called a strike. The second was further outside, but Babinsack stepped in and sent it over the fence in right-center field.
"That was the whole game right there," Tallon said. "That's why we wanted to put her on."
KECOUGHTAN 7, WOODSIDE 1
Woodside;100;000;0—1 4 3
Kecoughtan;000;250;x — 7 10 1
WP: Morris (11-0). LP: Walkosz (2-1). Standouts: Woodside, Francis 2-3. Kecoughtan, Babinsack 2-2 (HR, 2 RBI), Ehrlich 2-3, Salyers 2-3 (2 runs, 1 RBI). Records: Woodside 8-11, Kecoughtan 17-1.
Johnson can be reached by phone at 757-247-4649.