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Softball upends North Stafford, clinches berth

South Boston News
Karina Velazquez tags second and turns to first in an attempted double play against North Stafford Tuesday. / May 30, 2019

Halifax County High School varsity softball took advantage of clutch pitching from Lauryn Chappell and Madison Barnes on the way to a 6-3 win over North Stafford Tuesday in regional semifinals action.

The Comets return home tonight, facing Mountain View at 6 p.m. for the regional finals.

The win Tuesday put Halifax into next week’s Class 5 round of eight in state tournament action.

Chappell worked four innings and Barnes finished.

Trailing 1-0 after a Comet throwing error, Halifax battled back to tie the contest in the bottom of the first inning. Karina Velazquez was hit by a pitch and a run scored in a bases-loaded situation.

Halifax picked up two runs in its half of the second.

Katie Cole sliced a hit into short left field and the Comets moved ahead, 2-1. Barnes then dropped a hard to locate infield dribbler and Halifax picked up another run.

A wild pitch got the fourth run home in the bottom of the second.

North Stafford cut the lead to 4-2 in its half of the third.

Trinity Martin drove home Chappell in the bottom of the fourth. Chappell broke on the hit immediately crossed the plate to give the Comets a 5-2 lead.

Barnes surrendered an RBI double in the North Stafford fifth.

Martin delivered an RBI groundout in the Comet sixth to finish the scoring on the night.

Then, in the seventh, Barnes clamped down and the Comets celebrated.

Halifax had several excellent defensive moments, including key web gems and the hurlers got some key momentum-sapping strikeouts.

Velazquez had a quality defensive stop in the top of the second.

Chappell later snagged a potentially tricky high chopper in in the top of the third to escape further trouble.

Halifax had five hits, including two from Chappell. Martin had two RBI. Chappell worked the first four innings, facing 18 batters. She fanned five, walked two, while allowing four hits. She gave up two runs, both unearned.

Barnes worked the final three frames, facing 12 batters. She fanned four, walked one, allowed two hits and one run.

The game was closer than the score indicated, and Halifax got some key breaks to escape trouble.

Halifax got quality pitching from Chappell and Barnes.

“I had my players behind me, cheering me on, which had me up and ready to throw strikes. I was nervous at first. Once I got the first out, I started cooling off a little bit. I felt pretty good after that,” said Barnes.

“Today we were more focused than we have been all season. We came out with the goal to win. We really wanted to win it. We showed our gumption today,” said Chappell.

Chappell said the theme of the game was unity.

Halifax coach Woody Bane said the program is blessed with great softball players. The effort starts with the parents, the middle school and the team also has pretty good talent.

The team has jelled, with solid leadership from five seniors, and some youngsters, too, like Barnes.

“Ultra talented, a lot of fun hanging out with them,” said Bane.

Halifax also capitalized on North Stafford errors, but also made key adjustments and took advantage of playing at home.

Bane said it was important to get a run on the board in the bottom of the first, after North Stafford had taken advantage of a Comet error.

Bane said Halifax played well, and he also praised a run down situation later that saved Halifax a score. Chappell and Barnes pitched exceptionally well.

“We competed. We ran bases and we did a lot of good things,” said Bane.

North Stafford coach Andy O’Brien said, “I was impressed with our top of the lineup, hitting. We hit the ball solid. What didn’t happen was the back end of the lineup getting on for them.”

But Halifax got some key breaks and took advantage of some costly North Stafford miscues.

Errors also hurt the visitors.

“Could have been a very close game, 3-1, if that didn’t happen,” said O’Brien.

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