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Halifax County softball ready for regionals

SoVaNow.com / May 23, 2013
The Halifax County High School varsity softball team has a week off after earning every major distinction in the final Western Valley District run, and the Comets also won’t know their first round Northwest Regional opponent until tomorrow.

The Comets, now 21-2, will meet the winner of Battlefield-Woodbridge regional showdown. The Comets open regional play Monday.

HCHS, which won the WVD regular season and the district tournament title, had a season marked by early adjustments.

“It was a slow start, losing all those seniors last year. We lost a whole bunch of leadership,” said Comet coach Melanie Saunders. The new crop had to become accustomed to each other, learning how to communicate on the field.

“It’s been a work in progress. They’ve really started bonding well and communicating well in the field, knowing what the other one can and can’t do,” said Saunders. “I think they’ve really come together and it’s a good time to come together like this ...in the field, and at the plate. We’ve got some kids, it’s their first year of playing on the varsity level,” said Saunders.

The team had to learn what’s expected, in the field and in the classroom. “It’s been different this year. I think we’ve come together. Our unity is strong, our momentum is strong right now. We’re in a good place heading to the regionals,” said Saunders.

It’s difficult not to have a game all week, plus the weather conditions have been an issue. “We have to make the best of it, working on a lot of different hitting drills and getting a little bit more confidence at the plate. We’ve been aggressive at the plate. Some games, we’ll come in and the kids watch a few strikes go by, and I’ll remind them that aggressiveness at the plate is what’s gotten them to this point.”

Saunders said the Comet staff is preaching aggressiveness at the plate.

HCHS is trying to make improvements in the overall offense.

Halifax does have the advantage of a home game Monday, avoiding the long trip to Northern Virginia.

Regardless of the opponent Monday, Saunders is sending a message of respect for the opponent. HCHS has two Virginia state Group AAA state tournament appearances under Saunders, and the Comets would love to add a third deep state run this season.

“You get to this point in your season, all the teams are going to be good. The teams are going to have good pitching. They’re going to be able to hit, they’re going to be able to play defense. You’re not going to have any weaknesses at this level. You’ve got to come out with 100 percent, you’ve got to give all you’ve got. You’re not to get any lucky breaks, you’re going to have to earn what you get,” said Saunders.

HCHS is now in the elimination phase of its season. HCHS needs to win two games to get to the regional finals. Both the regional champion and runner-up move on to the state.

This Comet team clearly meshed well together, with some new elements for this squad coming together.

And HCHS has had excellent senior leadership again.

HCHS has been sparked by a strong season on the mound from freshman hurler Taylor Barnes.

“She’s not only a good pitcher, she’s also a good athlete. ... She kept us in games and does her job on the mound,” said Saunders.

The Comet head coach also praised catcher Ashley Watts for her role in helping keep opposing batters off balance.

Barnes also has done well in getting the Comet defense to work well behind the pitcher.

Halifax also goes into regional play without the major injury problems this program was facing at the same time last year.

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