Vinton County pitcher earned the complete game victory in a TVC-Ohio Division softball game against River Valley on Monday. (Photo Credit: Ron Butcher)
Vinton County pitcher earned the complete game victory in a TVC-Ohio Division softball game against River Valley on Monday. (Photo Credit: Ron Butcher)

McARTHUR – The Vinton County Lady Vikings still have their sights set on a share of the Tri-Valley Conference Ohio Division title.

Those hopes were kept alive Monday when the Lady Vikings fought back from an early deficit to earn an 8-4 win over River Valley.

Vinton County erased an early 4-1 deficit with timely hitting and held on for the win with superb pitching and defense.

“We had some weird things happen during the inning they (River Valley) scored four runs, but we still felt like we were in a good spot,” said Vinton County head coach Jeremy Ward. “I felt like we hit the ball well throughout the game. Even when we didn’t produce the first couple of innings, we saw a lot of pitches, and it paid off for us the second and third time through the batting order.

“Defensively, we made some nice plays and adjustments. We were fundamentally more sound than we’ve been the last couple of games, so that is a good sign. The kids did not panic in the least when we fell behind. They came right back and made things happen. That is what you expect from experienced kids.

The Lady Vikings improved to 16-5 overall and 9-2 in TVC-Ohio Division play and trail Wellston by only one game in the league standings.

These two teams will meet on Wednesday at Nancy Kibler Field in Wellston. If Vinton County wins, it will take home a share of the TVC-Ohio crown.

“We are in a good spot going into the last conference game,” Ward said. “How heavily Wellston was favored and Athens being the defending district champions, I don’t think anybody thought we would be in a position to share a league championship.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids for competing and giving themselves a chance.”

Against River Valley, Kerrigan Ward pitched a complete game to earn the win for the Lady Vikings. Ward allowed four runs (only two earned) and seven hits while striking out five River Valley batters.

“Kerrigan really relies on hitting her spots, and tonight she really wasn’t hitting them, but she was still able to manage,” said Ward. “She missed a couple of times where she put it over the plate, but then they hit it right back to us.”

Vinton County tallied nine hits off River Valley’s Abigail Hollanbaugh, led by Taylor Houdasheldt, who had a 4-for-4 day with a double and four RBI.

“When Taylor Houdasheldt is up with runners in scoring position, she has come through for us most of the time this season, and she did big time for us tonight,” Ward said.

The Lady Vikings plated one run in the bottom of the first inning. Ward led off the frame with a walk and came around to score on a River Valley error to take a 1-0 lead.

But the lead was short-lived, as River Valley scored four runs on three hits in the top of the second to take a 4-1 lead.

Vinton County closed to within a run in the bottom of the second on a two-run single by Houdasheldt to score Gracie Peters and Ward.

Both teams were held scoreless in the third inning, but Vinton County erupted for four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Ward and Breanna Sexton had RBI singles, and Houdasheldt drove in two more runs with a double to make it a 7-4 game.

The Lady Viking added an insurance run in the sixth on an RBI single by Rylee Ousley for the win.

The first pitch for Wednesday’s TVC-Ohio tilt at Wellston is scheduled for 5 p.m.