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Bedford County has suddenly taken on the likeness of a pawnbroker's safe: Lots of unused diamonds.
That dynamic (or lack thereof) was a result of a rough slate of conference games which left all of our baseball teams and all but one of our softball teams on the outside, looking in.
That sole remaining team is the Liberty Lady Minutemen. Or, we should say, it was the Liberty belles. They, too, suffered the harsh reality of being bounced, though their termination came in regional play, the only county team to so advance.
Staunton River was knocked off in the first round of Conference 31 play. The Lady Eagles made it close, falling to Alleghany, 6-4.
The loss was something of a moral victory, given that River had been trounced by that same Mountaineer crew just four days previously. That score had been a disheartening 17-3.
Speaking of disheartening, Jefferson Forest saw a superb season end on the Carroll County softball field in ignominious fashion.
The Lady Cavs endured a 12-2 loss at the hands of the Carrollinians. While JF out-hit their rivals (seven to five), it was the Lady Cavs' five errors which spelled their doom.
Meanwhile, Liberty had a very tough climb in Conference 30. The Lady Minutemen, however, were up to the challenge. They took Rustburg in the conference semifinal in dramatic fashion, 4-3.
Having lost to the Rusties twice during the regular season, the win came when it mattered the most: It punched the Lady Minutemen's ticket to regional play.
The question remained, however, where they might be seeded. That came down to a conference final with big, bad Brookville, the Seminole District regular season champ.
Liberty gave the Bees all they could handle. But Mother Nature conspired to work against the Belles. Even though Liberty was hosting, they were the visiting team (by reason of seeding).
In the top of the sixth, they took a 3-2 lead. But the skies opened up, washing the teams from the field of play.
Since five full innings had been played, the game was called on account of rain. But, since Brookville hadn't batted in the bottom of the sixth, the score reverted back to what it was at the end of the fifth: 2-0, in favor of the Bees.
In the end, the affair went into the record books as a win for the unbeaten Bees. As a result, the Lady Minutemen, as conference runners-up, earned a long bus trip to Patrick County, to face the 20-2 Cougars.
There, the snake-bit Liberty lasses were topped, 2-1, in nine innings. That had to be the longest of long bus rides.
The lads? Ow-ee! The baseball teams went a collective 1-3. Liberty was bounced in a play-in game by Heritage last Monday, which was noted in this newspaper last week.
Jefferson Forest, which gamely staved off elimination at the hands of Bassett, ran out of rabbits to pull from its collective sleeve, falling to Salem, 4-3.
The Cavs, second-place finishers in the Seminole, seemed to have the ponies (and arms and bats) for a decent run. They'd also beaten Amherst, which is considered to be the favorite in Region 4A-North.
But the nine-inning donnybrook win over Bassett may have taken its toll on the Cavs, as they were unable to muster the win over the Spartans.
Staunton River had the toughest fall. The Eagles had earned the top seeding in Conference 30, thanks to a stellar 16-4 record. The team earned a precious first-round bye, meaning its arms and legs would be fresh for its playoff opener.
They got to face William Byrd on Thursday. A win over the Terriers would mean a trip to the championship game and a ticket punched to the regionals festivities.
Alas, things did not go well. Byrd punched home three runs in the top half of the first inning before weather sent the teams home.
Returning to host site Alleghany on Friday, the Eagles couldn't overcome the three-run deficit, falling to their archrivals, 4-2.
While there was certainly a strong desire across the southern part of the county to see the Eagles make a deep playoff run, there is some small salve for this wound: River graduates but two seniors from this squad, so next year already looks bright.