A throwing error in the bottom half of the sixth inning led to the only run of the game as the Magnolia Lady Blue Eagles lost their sixth straight Region One finals 1-0 to the defending Class-AA state champions, the Ritchie County Lady Rebels May 17 at Magnolia's Hydro Field.
It was another heartbreaking finish to a marvelous career for starting pitcher Tori Tharp. Yielding only two hits heading into the sixth frame,
Tharp gave up a leadoff double. She then erased the next batter on a come-backer before the wheels fell off the wagon.
The next batter bunted the ball down the third base line. Eagle third baseman Jordan Babe threw widely to first baseman Mallory Chapman, sending the ball to the outfield and pushing the only run across the plate.
Tharp composed herself, sitting down the next batter and erasing the next batter on a groundout to Dallas Mullett, who passed it to Chapman at first.
In the top of the seventh, the Eagles made two quick outs. Babe drilled a liner off the Rebel's first baseman's glove for a single, keeping the Lady Eagles' chances of a gallant comeback.
The Eagles' next batter, Makenzie Dawson, drilled a liner to right field. But the Ritchie outfielder threw her out at first base for the final out of the game.
"We knew it was going to be a dogfight, and I honestly expected the score to be 1-0," said a dejected Magnolia Head Coach Mark Batton after the game.
"This just isn't a good time right now. We had a great ride with these seniors. It's a shame they never were able to get to the state tournament, but sometimes life isn't fair."
It marked the sixth straight regional championship loss for the Eagles, beginning with a loss to Ritchie in 2007, followed by back-to-back losses to Point Pleasant and ending with three straight nail biters to Ritchie.
Tharp struck out three and didn't walk a batter, while throwing only 71 pitches in the game.
She finished the season with a 18-3 record with 197 strike outs in 146.2 innings, and a 1.35 ERA. The Magnolia infield threw out eight batters on ground outs, including one double play.
Babe paced the Lady Eagles with a single and a double, while Chapman drilled a pair of singles. Marissa Bosley walked twice for the Eagles and left three girls in scoring position.
The Eagles finished the season with a 28-4 record and a Class 3-A OVAC Title.
Ritchie will enter the state championship Wednesday with a 26-5 record.