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Lady Comets win WVD regular season
SoVaNow.com / May 16, 2013Halifax County High School varsity softball collected a 3-0 shutout over Franklin County Tuesday in Danville, collecting the final Western Valley District regular season championship, the no. 1 seed for the WVD tournament, and a no. 1 seed in the Northwest Regionals.
The Comet softball squad improved to 19-2 this season. This Comet program has put together the best four-year run in the history of all HCHS sports, an 85-8 run over the past four seasons.
The Comets, who have now taken two of three games from FCHS this season, were back in action Wednesday at home against the winner of GW-William Fleming. Those teams played Wednesday afternoon with the winner playing the Comets. HCHS is hoping to stay at home and host the WVD tournament final Friday, with a possible fourth FCHS-HCHS showdown coming in the WVD tournament final.
The Comets secured a no. 1 regional seed with Tuesday’s shutout win over the Eagles. Halifax also gets a first-round regional bye and will play at home on Memorial Day.
Halifax got another superb pitching performance from freshman Taylor Barnes and enough timely hitting, sparked by senior Meg Bane, to slip past Franklin County. HCHS now has a pair of 3-0 wins over FCHS, while the Eagles recorded a 1-0 win at HCHS in regular season play.
The decisive Comet rally came in the HCHS fourth in action at Averett University’s North Campus, site of the playoff.
Miyana Ross walked to lead off the inning, and Megan Puckett reached on an error. That set the stage for Bane, who blistered a triple to the left center fence. Bane delivered two RBI on the hit.
“We now get a home game for the ... regionals. Everybody was focused, everybody was ready. They knew what to look for, and we did it,” Bane said.
Cecilie Elliott followed with a crisp hit past shortstop to get Bane home, and that’s all Barnes needed.
Barnes throttled FCHS on five hits, while striking out ten. FCHS stranded five runners, including two runners in scoring position in the sixth. HCHS helped its cause defensively with a pair of double plays.
“We did really good. I’ve always wanted to beat Franklin County. “My inside fastball was really good, and my drop curve,” said Barnes, who said she was a bit tired pitching in the seventh.
She remains confident with the Comets moving forward in the postseason.
“I think we can go a long ways if we work together and stay up and have a lot of endurance,” said Barnes.
HCHS did not have all that much success against FCHS pitcher Hali Saul, as the Comets got four hits. But HCHS got the key offense it needed against FCHS.
Halifax fanned one time against Saul.
Halifax had an early scoring opportunity, as leadoff hitter Tayler Mosley walked and eventually got to third, before being stranded. Ross, batting no. 2, had a nice bunt to help Ross along, but she could not get home.
Cori Campbell singled to start the Comet fifth, but she was thrown out at second. Ashley Watts also eventually got to second after a base hit, but she was stranded.
Franklin County made it interesting in its last at-bat in the seventh inning, as Barnes appeared to lose some of her sharpness on the mound.
With two out, Becky France came on to pinch hit, slapping a single to keep the Eagle hopes alive. Barnes, however, cleanly fielded a dribbler and threw to first baseman Campbell for the final out.
That sparked a brief celebration, as the Comets capped another stellar season under head coach Melanie Saunders.
Saunders has directed HCHS to another title and a favorable situation as far as the regionals go.
“Today, our game plan was to come out here and be aggressive at the plate. She (Saul) has good control, she’s got a good changeup obviously, she got us a couple of times on that. She kept us off-balance at the plate, that’s what a good pitcher does.
“We just kept battling,” Saunders said.
“It was a big game for us, after losing at home 1-0 (to FCHS). That let the steam out a little bit, and we’ve been trying to get that momentum back up, and every game we’ve been picking up little by little to get back here.”
Saunders expects tougher competition ahead, and she’s proud to claim the final WVD softball title. “We really did want it for the Comet softball program,” said Saunders.
Barnes also pitched well, and HCHS refused to get down.
Barnes “is really keeping us in the ballgame, and the kids get the kids behind her. She does the job on the mound for us, and we couldn’t ask more of her. But we couldn’t do it without the kids behind her. She puts the ball up there for them, and let’s the defense play,” said Saunders.
“This is the same type of game we played at Halifax,” FCHS head coach Bryan Forbes said.
“They got their ... hits together,” said Forbes. “The rest of the game, our pitcher did as good a job as their pitcher keeping runners off.”
Forbes said the Comets had more timely hitting. FCHS also missed some timely opportunities early.
“We didn’t make the necessary play, and didn’t execute well. And when you don’t execute, when you have opportunities against a good team, a lot of times it comes back to bite you. I applaud our girls’ effort, we played well defensively. We put the ball in play, we just didn’t get that timely hit. They did, and they deserve the championship. They’re a class act, and hopefully get another chance at them Friday (in the WVD tournament final),” said Forbes.
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