Princeton Tigers...

Princeton Tigers

BECKLEY — For a team that suddenly finds itself under the weight of expectations, it was important for Woodrow Wilson to get its first sectional win out of the way.

And with the talk of severe thunderstorms dominating weather forecasts for days, the faster the better.

That’s the way it went down.

Starter Taylor Scott didn’t face trouble until the fifth inning, but by then Princeton was already down 10. Scott settled for a three-hitter and a 10-1 victory in five innings Tuesday in the first round of the Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 tournament in Beckley.

The top-seeded Flying Eagles will host No. 2 Greenbrier East in a winners bracket game Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.

“It feels good to get the butterflies out of the stomach a little bit,” Woodrow coach Pam Davis said.

“I’m really happy to be playing in sectionals, really happy we won,” Scott said. “Our team batted well and fielded well. We came together. We’re good.”

Scott was in control from the start. She took a no-hitter into the fifth and had only allowed two baserunners to that point. The Tigers got all three of their hits and scored their lone run but faced too steep of a challenge.

“Unfortunately, sometimes that happens,” Davis said. “But the girls helped her out and kept them from scoring, except that one. Taylor did a great job.”

Scott struck out four and walked one. Her defense did the job behind her, and the Tigers didn’t get the ball out of the infield until the fifth.

“My job as a pitcher isn’t really to strike everybody out, anyway,” Scott said. “I just have to make it to where my fielders can field the ball. No line drives, try not to hit gap shots.”

She said that happened in the fifth, but most of the night she got the Princeton batters to do what she wanted with an assortment of pitches.

“My changeup — I love my changeup — and my curveball,” she said. “Of course my fastball. I usually pitch it high on 3-2 counts, something like that.”

Meanwhile, the Flying Eagles lineup was strong throughout, pounding out 11 hits over four innings. They scored four runs in the third inning and again in the fourth for a 10-0 lead to set the mercy rule in motion with two runs to spare.

Ava Mullins was 3-for-3 and scored twice, sisters Kayla Bird and Brooklyn Bird went a combined 4-for-6 with a doubles and two runs batted in and Jayden Shrewsbury smoked a triple in the second and drove in a run in the fourth.

“We do hitting practice every day we don’t have a game,” Shrewsbury said. “If it’s raining, we do it in the gym. Today we got here early to get extra hitting practice, and we worked really hard offseason. We’ve never really had time to hit before, but this year we’ve been on it.”

Woodrow got a little bit of help from Princeton, which committed four errors behind starting pitcher Emma Johnson. Three of those came in the third and Woodrow took advantage to go ahead 6-0.

“We can never get ahead of ourselves,” Princeton coach Craig Johnson said. “Errors early in the game, it just gets you down and you’re done. You give them a couple of runs, they’re a good team. You can’t get down on yourself or down on them. Because I thought even after we went down 2-0 — which was off an error — we still had a chance. But that third inning, we had three errors in a row, I think, and it was over then. I knew that.”

Johnson pitched well around the errors for the first three innings, but Woodrow got to her for five hits in the fourth. Her last batter faced was her eighth strikeout of the night.

Mullins singled off Johnson’s glove with one out in the fourth and Kayla Bird followed with a single. One out later, Kendall Dooley drove them both in with a double to center field. A single by Shrewsbury drove in Dooley, and Shrewsbury scored on a double by Taylor McDaniel.

The Tigers did give it one last shot in the fifth, needing three runs to keep the game going. Their first hit of the night was a one-out single by No. 9 hitter Gracie Meadows, who took second on an error. After Mullins caught a liner for the second out, back-to-back singles by Johnson and Abbi Jenkins allowed Meadows to score.

Scott then got Skylar Rice to ground out and end the game.

Princeton will visit Oak Hill Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in an elimination game. The winner will face the Woodrow-Greenbrier East loser in either Beckley or Fairlea on Thursday, with the winner between the Eagles and Spartans moving on to Friday’s championship game.

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