RADFORD — The suspense was brief.
After probing the Rappahannock County High softball defense for the better part of four innings, Auburn’s bats went to work during 10-run fifth and six-run sixth innings.
Coupled with Skyler DeHart’s no-hitter, that was more than enough for the Eagles’ 18-1 victory in the Class 1 final at Radford University on Friday.
With that, Auburn (25-3) claimed its first state title in the sport after a runner-up finish last year .
Rappahannock County (19-8) scored first with an unearned run in the fourth, but never had much of a chance once the Eagles got their sticks going.
If there was any doubt in the Auburn dugout what the outcome would be, there was no indication. Team members said afterward they believed it was just a matter of time.
“We kept getting runners on, so I felt like it was coming,” Eagles coach David Hurd said. “Not 18 runs worth, but I did feel like our kids would crack through.”
With the Eagles leading 2-1 and Tori Boyd having led off the inning with a single, Rappahannock County coach Jeff Atkins wasted no time in going to his bullpen in relief of starter Abi McClary.
Kammie Brown came in from second base to take over. Six hits, five walks, and 10 earned runs later, Auburn was six outs from victory.
DeHart, a left-hander, took it from there. She fanned the last six batters, giving her eight straight strikeouts to finish the game. She struck out 12 and walked none.
DeHart (22-2) had pitched all eight innings in the 2-1 victory over Riverheads in Thursday’s semifinal. The semifinal was postponed six days after the original play date was rained out.
“I prepared for this all week by eating right and drinking plenty of water,” DeHart said. “Yesterday was really stressful and a close game, but we knew we were the better team today.
“Still, you can’t overlook anybody.”
Rappahannock County came to the tournament with five freshmen and two sophomores. The team’s two seniors are reserves. Three of the freshmen and four sophomores started against Auburn.
“We gave Auburn four good innings, but they hit the heck out of the ball,” Atkins said. “That’s the best hitting team — the best team — we’ve seen all year.”
The onslaught added up to 17 hits. Leadoff hitter Boyd had four. Five of her teammates had a couple of hits apiece.
It was a power hitter’s day with a stiff breeze blowing to left center field. The Eagles had two home runs, the first a three-run bomb by Abby Wilson in the sixth.
The next batter, Cortney Cochran, followed with a solo blast far over the fence in left center.
“After Abby hit hers, I thought I couldn’t let her show me up like that so I had to have one, too,” Cochran said with a huge grin.
“Once we got the first hits, that really started us rolling and there was nothing stopping us after that,” Wilson said.
Wilson, who had 12 home runs this season, will next play for Radford University . Cochran, who hit her sixth blast, is planning to play for Eastern Mennonite next season.
Auburn’s entire season was geared to this outcome. It started with a beefed-up schedule.
“A lot of the teams we played were in the postseason,” Hurd said. “We beat William Byrd. We split with Richlands and they won [Class 2]. We had two wins against Floyd County. We played a tough schedule — the best of the best — and we were ready today because of it.”
What a spring for Auburn’s athletic program. The baseball team won a state title earlier in the day. The girls soccer team also was a state champion, and boys soccer was the runner-up in its state tournament. Both track teams finished second at the state meet.
The baseball and softball teams sat for a combined victory portrait on the softball field.
One potential caption was obvious. It’s good to be an Eagle.