DALEVILLE — Hard work paid off for the Floyd County High School softball team Friday.
Catcher Tiara Reed jumped into pitcher Olivia Yates’ arms after the Buffaloes fended off Dan River 7-6 in the Region 2C final at the Botetourt Sports Complex.
The Buffaloes (19-4) won their first regional title in four years.
“It means everything to me, considering I have a huge life ahead of me and this is maybe the only time I get to do this,” said Reed, a junior who had two hits and one RBI. “We’re actually working this year and working hard and we believe in ourselves.”
“We’ve worked really hard for that … and it feels really good to be able to get it this year,” said senior Madison Harris, who had two hits and two RBIs.
Both teams had already clinched bids to the Class 2 state tournament.
The Buffaloes (19-4) scored three runs in the sixth to grab a 7-5 lead.
Floyd County lost to James River in the regional semifinals last year, but this time the Buffaloes got to celebrate with the championship trophy.
“It’s pretty great, honestly,” said junior Aimee Whitlow, whose two-RBI single in the sixth gave the Buffaloes the lead. “We just click together.
“We have a better mind-set than the past few years. Some of the people [before], we didn’t really click.”
This is Meaghan Funk’s first season at the helm of the Buffaloes. She served as Angela Tincher’s catcher at James River before spending her college career at Emory & Henry.
Funk, formerly a Buffaloes assistant, succeeded her ex-boss Scott Thompson after he retired.
“Winning [a regional title] as a player and as an assistant coach and now as a head coach, words can’t describe how amazing this is,” Funk said.
Thanks to Friday’s win, the Buffaloes will host a state quarterfinal game Tuesday against the loser of Saturday’s Region 2D final between Lebanon and Richlands.
It will be Floyd County’s first appearance in the state tournament since 2015.
“We’re more determined than last year’s team … for that state ring,” Reed said.
Dan River (17-7) will visit the Region 2D champ in another quarterfinal Tuesday.
The Wildcats scored four runs in the top of the fifth to grab a 5-3 lead.
Floyd County responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth. Reed doubled and advanced on a grounder. She scored on an error by shortstop Katie Moser.
The Buffaloes scored three more times in the sixth to take a 7-5 lead.
After Carly Quesinberry walked, Shaylee Gearhart singled and Hannah Vest was hit by a pitch. Yates reached on a fielder’s choice, with Quesinberry out at home.
Whitlow stepped to the plate with the bases loaded. She responded with a two-RBI single to left.
“I was a little nervous, but I knew that I had to do something,” said Whitlow, who had two hits in the game. “I had to get my mind set and be confident.”
Reed had a RBI grounder to extend the lead.
The Wildcats cut the lead to 7-6 on Rebekah Stowe’s RBI grounder in the top of the seventh. But with a runner on second, Moser hit a sharp grounder back to Yates to end the game.
Yates (19-4) pitched a 12-hit complete game for the Buffaloes. The sophomore struck out five and walked four.
“My dropball has just been really iffy lately,” Yates said. “It either drops a lot or it doesn’t drop at all, and some of them were just staying over the plate.”
Yates pitched out of numerous jams. The Wildcats stranded 12 runners.
“The story of the day is us leaving a small village … on base,” Wildcats coach Ryan Scolpini said.
Wildcats ninth grader Emily McVay (13-5) pitched a seven-hit complete game.