DALEVILLE — Sophie McCulley was perfect in the circle for the first four innings Friday afternoon.
But then came the fifth inning.
Dan River erupted for four runs in the fifth and beat the Highlanders 4-2 in a Region 2C semifinal at the Botetourt Sports Complex.
“They just caught up to my pitches and just started hitting,” McCulley said. “It happens.”
The Wildcats (17-6) clinched a berth in the Class 2 state tournament. It is their first state tournament bid in five years.
“It’s crazy. It’s exciting,” Dan River sophomore Riley Nuckles said.
Dan River will face Floyd County in the regional final at 1 p.m. today at the Botetourt Sports Complex. Dan River beat Floyd County in the 2014 regional title game.
Glenvar (18-4) was seeking to make the state tournament for the first time since 2016.
“I’m just disappointed,” said a teary Katherine Ward, the team’s senior catcher.
McCulley (16-4), a ninth grader, pitched a five-hitter for Glenvar.
She stymied the Wildcats with her riseball and curve for most of the afternoon. She struck out 14 batters in the game and walked none.
McCulley retired the first 12 Dan River batters — nine by strikeout.
Trailing 1-0, the Wildcats got to McCulley in the top of the fifth. All five of their hits came in that inning.
“We made a couple of adjustments in the dugout about what we needed to do at the plate,” Dan River coach Ryan Scolpini said.
Gracie Waller, a Randolph recruit, and Emily McVay singled. They advanced on a sacrifice bunt. Patrick Henry Community College recruit Kendall Meadows hit an RBI single to left.
After Lindsay Cook struck out, Madison Newman hit an RBI single to give Dan River a 2-1 lead.
Nuckles then hit a two-RBI double to right-center field.
“Once we started hitting, we got into her head,” Nuckles said of McCulley. “So then all her riseballs and everything [weren’t] the same, and we just weren’t as scared to hit her.”
McCulley righted herself, and was perfect again in the sixth and seventh innings.
McVay (13-4), a ninth grader, pitched a four-hitter for Dan River. She struck out four and walked none.
“She worked the corners on us pretty good,” Glenvar coach Lonnie Raines said. “We just [weren’t] disciplined at bat to wait for the pitch that we liked and drive it.”
“I just don’t think our bats came alive at all,” McCulley said.
Glenvar grabbed a 1-0 lead in the fourth.
McKenzie Pulliam reached base on first baseman Waller’s error. After Pulliam advanced on a grounder, Lydia Taylor hit an RBI single to right field.
Ward then singled to put runners at first and second, but McCulley grounded out to end the inning.
The Highlanders cut the Dan River lead to 4-2 in the sixth.
Justice Wilfong singled and advanced on a grounder. She moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch.
Glenvar had a runner on second later in the inning, but Ward lined out to end the inning.