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SoVaNow.com / June 02, 2014
Taylor Barnes smashed the game-changing three run double and delivered a strong pitching performance, as the Halifax County High School varsity softball team advanced in Region 5-A North action with a 5-0 win over Mountain View Friday.
Barnes’ blast, which left her bat quickly, proved the most important hit during a game when both teams struggled to find consistency at the plate.
HCHS scored all of its runs in the second inning. From there, Barnes had enough stamina in the circle to complete the seven-inning shutout.
She allowed two hits and fanned three, including the final batter of the game for MV. Barnes did have a few control issues in a small strike zone, and walked six.
With the win, HCHS, now 17-7, advances to today’s next round in region play. HCHS will travel this morning to meet George Marshall in Falls Church. If HCHS loses, the season is over.
If the Comets win today, they would advance to the regional semifinals Wednesday.
If HCHS wins the first two games this week, the Comets would make Friday’s Region 5-A semifinals, and earn a berth in state tournament play.
A loss ends the season.
Barnes generally looked sharp, and got help from her defense.
“We stayed up the whole time, and stayed on the (MV) pitcher ... I think we could have scored more runs, but five was enough for today,” Barnes said.
The sophomore hurler had a fairly routine top of the first, getting three flyball outs.
MV pitcher Taylor Levesque, a sophomore, surrendered a two-out single to Barnes, one of just four hits for the Comets. Barnes was stranded by a flyout in the bottom of the first.
Barnes got some assistance in the top of the second from her teammates.
Kirsten Doss made a nifty snag at second for the first out. Barnes lost the next batter, Keirsten Kennedy, on a walk. Katie Whitehead lofted a fly ball to right, and Comet outfielder Hannah Saunders made the catch and fired to first baseman Gabby Spainhour, and caught the MV runner leaning too far off first. That resulted in an inning-ending double play.
HCHS sealed the deal in the bottom of the second.
Cecilie Elliott drilled a leadoff single. Spainhour followed with basehit off the glove of MV’s Amber Scites, putting runners on first and third. Spainhour then took second.
It appeared that Levesque lost some control at this point, and got a bit rattled. She fired off a wild pitch and Elliott scored the Comets’ first run, sliding ahead of the tag.
Megan Watts walked to load the bases with no outs.
With one out, Kirsten Doss, batting leadoff, lofted an RBI sacrifice fly to give the Comets a 2-0 lead. Megan Puckett then reached on an infield hit to load the bases again for Barnes.
The Comet standout delivered with a well-hit shot to deep right field, clearing the bases, and lifting HCHS to a 5-0 lead. Barnes got a good look at the ball and drove it hard. The blast changed the outcome, even as the inning ended one batter later.
Barnes leveled an inside pitch, and slammed it with gusto.
“I love inside pitches. When I get them, I try to hit them as hard as I can,” said Barnes.
Barnes issued a leadoff walk to Kellen Cody to start the Wildcats’ third.
MV also had another walk and a single from Scites in the inning, but Barnes worked out of trouble, stranding one.
Halifax got walks for Spainhour and Megan Watts in the bottom of the third, but both runners were stranded.
Barnes lost Kennedy on a two-out walk in the top of the fourth, but finished with a strikeout. Halifax then went quietly in the bottom of the fourth.
Barnes caught a popup and finished the second Comet doubleplay in the MV fifth, as another baserunning mistake cost the Wildcats. But HCHS also went down in 1-2-3 fashion in its half of the fifth, with Levesque settling down.
Barnes got through the MV sixth with little difficulty, as Elliott made a nice catch to end the frame.
Halifax went down again in the bottom of the sixth, as Levesque retired the last 10 Comet batters in a row.
Barnes started the game-clinching top of the seventh with a strikeout. With a flyout to center, HCHS had two outs. Barnes then issued a walk and hit the next batter, but she focused and ended the regional opener with a strikeout.
Barnes wasn’t completely on target, but the Comets advanced. And it’d be difficult to quibble too much with the sophomore’s overall performance.
She finished with three of the five RBI, while keeping MV in check when needed. And the Comets had a solid defensive outing.
At the end of the day, HCHS advanced. That’s really all that mattered.
MV coach Bo Banglesdorf said, “We played a sound game defensively. Pitching wise, we were solid. We put the ball in play, we just hit it right to people.”
The Wildcats’ head coach lamented the Comet second.
“There was one inning where they had a big inning. Other than that, I thought we competed,” said the MV coach.
The Comets play today at 6:30 p.m.
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