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IWA JV softball wins 3rd straight Metro title

Isle of Wight Academy’s junior varsity softball team knew it was good when the Chargers beat Tabb from the tough Bay Rivers District, 3-1, earlier this season.

It wasn’t until Friday’s doubleheader sweep of Denbigh Baptist, though, that the Chargers could call themselves champions.

IWA entered the season finale with a perfect 12-0 mark. Denbigh Baptist, led by freshman standout pitcher Darby Deanhofer and sophomore catcher Jamie Collier, were also undefeated in Metro Conference play. IWA won the games 2-1 and 3-0.

“We’re accustomed to rolling over most teams,” said IWA head coach Bud Key. “But we knew these last two games would be different. Denbigh Baptist had only given up seven runs all season so we figured it would be tight.”

Friday’s first game was a continuation of an April 27 date postponed after two innings because of rain. The game was resumed in the top of the third with a 0-0 score.

“We spent most of Thursday’s practice working on bunting and bunt defense,” Key said. “Coach [Johnny] Webb and I were not too worried about Denbigh Baptist scoring a lot of runs. We just had to figure out a way to put the ball in play and push a couple of runners across the plate.”

IWA seventh-grader Bailey Key picked up where she left off the week before, striking out the side in the top of the third. Sixth-grader Trish Webb led off IWA’s half of the inning with a single up the middle and then scampered home on Dianne Davis’ liner to right field to give the Chargers a 1-0 lead.

Deanhofer reached base on an error to lead off the fourth. After two strikeouts, Chante Bevil looped a single to left field to score Deanhofer from second to even the score.

Brynna Burchett led off the bottom of the fourth inning with an infield single. Burchett stole second and third and with one out, sixth-grader Falyn Fentress executed a flawless sacrifice bunt to score Burchett.

The run turned out to be the game winner, with IWA retiring Denbigh Baptist in order in the top of the fifth. Key notched the win, allowing one hit while striking out 11.

“I’m not a big fan of double headers because each game is only five innings,” Key said. “But this time I didn’t mind at all. We told the girls before the game two runs would win it for us.”

The second game opened with IWA as the visitors on their home field. The Chargers got on the scoreboard in the second on a walk by Fentress followed by a two-out RBI bunt single by Deidre DeBusk. Key followed with a double to left but Deanhofer was able to escape the jam with a strike out.

The Chargers added two more runs in the third with three consecutive singles by Davis, Burchett and Fentress. Kaitlyn Mealey then drew an RBI walk followed by Chelsea Burks’ squeeze bunt single.

That was more than enough runs for Key, who pitched another five-inning gem. Backed by several outstanding plays from Webb at third base, Burks at first base and Shelbie Dashiell at short, Key spun a no-hitter while striking out eight.

For IWA, it was the junior varsity’s third consecutive Metro Conference championship. The Charger roster included three sixth-graders, two seventh-graders and only four returning players from last year’s 16-0 squad.

Davis led IWA with a .633 average that included 11 doubles and five triples. Webb, Key, Burchett and Bo Olsavicky all batted above .500.

On the hill, Key finished with an 8-0 mark with 71 strikeouts against just six hits and four walks. Dashiell was 5-0 with 29 strikeouts. Webb, as a relief pitcher, fanned 33 batters in 16 innings.