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Defensive errors can be extremely costly in playoff softball, and the Halifax County High School varsity softball team learned that lesson Monday.
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SoVaNow.com / August 11, 2014World Series champions.
The Virginia traditional Ponytails have earned that title following a charge to the Dixie World Series crown.
Virginia, represented by the Halifax American all-stars, routed Georgia 16-3 in the finals of the World Series in North Mrytle Beach, S.C.
Virginia went undefeated all the way through district, state and World Series play. The local all-stars won nine straight in the postseason.
During a postseason break between the state tournament and the World Series, Virginia head coach Scott Martin took this team to a weekend travel tournament in Oxford, N.C. to keep the players sharp. The locals finished second out of five teams in the tournament.
Virginia collected 20 hits in the World Series finale, and seven walks.
Raegan Ridgeway pitched the first three innings, while Abby Martin pitched the fourth and fifth frames. Ridgeway returned and closed out the WS title with a strong sixth inning.
In the first inning, Ridgeway singled. Kayla Walker drew a walk. Shekeria Chandler doubled, scoring Ridgeway and Walker. Then, Kaitlyn Richardson singled, and Gracie Wagstaff and Martin singled. Wagstaff plated Chandler and Martin drove in Richardson.
Virginia had a 4-0 lead after its half of the first. Georgia scored one run in the first.
Virginia added four more runs in its half of the second.
Amanda Duffer led off with a single. Townes drew a walk and Walker slapped a double, scoring Duffer and Townes. S. Chandler followed with a double, scoring Walker. Chandler scored on a Richardson double. Georgia scored its final two runs in its half of the second inning.
In the third, Virginia added two runs. Martin led off with a walk, and Kassidy Thompson laid down an infield single. Jessica Balducci singled, and Duffer singled and drove in two runs.
Virginia led, 10-3, after three innings.
Neither team scored in the next two innings.
Moving toward the sixth, Virginia added its final six runs.
Duffer led off with a double. Autumn Younger added a single. Townes drew a walk and Ridgeway singled, getting two runs home. Walker added an RBI single. Chandler walked and Richardson singled.
Wagstaff also singled, driving in Chandler. Martin also hit a single, driving in Richardson.
Chander went 3-for-3 with a single, two doubles and walk. Martin produced a 3-for-3 outing with a walk. Wagstaff went 3-for-4 and Duffer also went 3-for-3. Richardson also had a huge night, going 4-for-4. Kayla Walker went 2-for-3 with a walk.
Ridgeway worked the first three innings, giving up Georgia’s three runs. She allowed three hits in her first stint, with two strikeouts. Martin came in during the fourth and fifth. Martin allowed one hit up the middle and fanned three in her two innings of work. She did not allow any runs.
Ridgeway returned in the bottom of the sixth.
She got the first two outs on a groundout and a flyout. Then, Ridgeway hit a batter.
Ridgeway then ended the World Series run with a strikeout.
“Two key games which set us up included the first game against Florida. We won 3-1 against very strong Florida pitching. Had we lost that game, we would have been in the loser’s bracket and would have burned up all of our pitching,” said Martin.
“The other key game was our third game against South Carolina,” said Martin, who had scouted that team during the series. “They appeared to be a little stronger than we were.”
“I was nervous ... I knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Virginia fell behind 6-0 off errors and walks in the first two innings. But Virginia chipped away. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, down by one run, Virginia rallied to win off clean hitting.
“That was the turning point,” Martin said.
“After that game ... everybody’s confidence level soared. We never looked back, hit when we needed, had great defense and great pitching. We had hitting when we needed it,” said Martin.
Virginia needed two more wins after South Carolina to lock down the Series crown, including a 9-7 win over North Carolina Thursday and then the finale against Georgia Friday morning.
In the win over North Carolina, Chandler went 3-for-3. Ridgeway went 2-for-3. Walker went 3-for-3. Martin went one-for-two with a walk. Wagstaff went 2-for-3 and Balducci went 2-for-3.
Wagstaff pulled most of the load on the pitching. She worked the first, second, fifth and sixth inning. Wagstaff allowed only two earned runs.
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