RICHMOND – Richmond-Burton junior catcher Taylor Davison held her thumb and index finger less than an inch apart when describing her second at-bat in Tuesday’s Class 2A Richmond-Burton Sectional semifinal.
“I missed that one by that much,” said Davison, who lined out to deep center field in her fourth-inning plate appearance. “I wasn’t going to miss another one.”
She did not.
In her third at-bat against Oregon’s Mia Trampel, Davison crushed a first-pitch home run to right-center field to break a 1-all tie and propel R-B to a 2-1 victory, sending the Rockets into Friday’s sectional final. R-B will face the winner between Marengo and Stillman Valley in the championship game at 4:30 p.m. Friday.
“I knew I didn’t want to pull the ball,” said Davison, who now has 12 homers. “I wanted to go to right field to give me the opportunity to run. [Trampel] pitched me in the whole game, so I adjusted, and when I hit it, the ball just took off.”
Davison’s heroics in the bottom of the sixth inning could not overshadow an equally dazzling performance by pitcher Hailey Holtz. The unflappable freshman tossed a no-hitter and struck out 19 batters as the Rockets improved to 19-5.
“My fastball had a lot of tailing motion on it tonight, but once I focused on my release point, the control came back and I was able to mix in some rise balls,” said Holtz, who surpassed 200 strikeouts for the season in the win. “This team just never gets down for long, we are constantly picking each other up.”
Oregon finished its season at 25-10.
“We batted .400 as a team this year, and we hit 19 home runs, but [Holtz] was just lights out,” Hawks coach Nate Rogers said. “She shut us down. They’ve got a great program, they play great defense, and this game came down to one mistake to the wrong hitter. I thought about walking her given what she had done the previous time, but she jumped on the first pitch.”
The Rockets jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first on a triple by Lyndsay Regnier and an RBI single by Holtz. The Rockets held that lead until the fourth. Oregon’s Bella Koertner walked and, after two strikeouts from Holtz, moved to second on a walk to Jesse Suter. Koertner then stole third and came around to score on a double steal.
Both Holtz and Trampel kept the offenses at bay until Davison’s late-game heroics.
“We have a few themes on this team. One of them is ‘One more.’ We look for one more hit, one more pitch, and tonight it was one more home run,” R-B coach Tylar Stanton said. “Taylor has had huge at-bats for us all year. We are lucky to have her one more year behind the plate.
“We had a couple of mistakes in the field tonight, but when you have Hailey, who was able to put down 19 of their hitters, that makes up for a lot. She’s just a workhorse. Had we needed to go eight, nine, 10 innings, she would’ve wanted the ball.
“She and this team never quit.”