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Valiant Darlings fall to Amherst in state title game / July 23, 2018
The Halifax Darlings battled valiantly, but fell to Amherst last week in the deciding game for the Dixie Softball state title in Farmville.

Halifax had to defeat Amherst twice to win the state Tuesday. Halifax won the opener, 9-4, before dropping the final, 10-9.

“This is where the tournament got interesting and proved what kind of softball players are on this Darlings team. We had proven we could hit and play defense with the best of them, but we had not shown that in the first game against Amherst,” coach Shannon Salley said.

“The girls came out in the first game of the night with bats blazing and gloves in the dirt,” said Salley.

Halifax shocked Amherst with a 9-4 win.

Emmerson Salley and Hayden Rudder went 3-3 at the plate. Lily Hammock, Kyndall Richardson, Ashlyn Epperson, and Aliyah Norwood each added two hits. Ella Seamster, Kennedy Bowen, Avery Crenshaw, and Kynnedy Riley had one hit apiece.

Defense was on point as well with our infield and outfield making plays. “I had stressed to the girls that outfield would win us ballgames and that proved true,” said Salley.

That set up a decisive second game, with Amherst winning.

“This game was just as exciting as the first one. We took the early lead but Amherst answered. The game went back and forth.

“We were tied 9-9 in the bottom of the fifth inning when Amherst hit a deep ball to left field which scored the go ahead run,” said Salley.

Allie Payne, Emmerson Salley, and Hayden Rudder went 2-3 at the plate. Ashley Epperson, Aliyah Norwood, and Lily Hammock were 2-2. Ella Seamster, Kennedy Bowen, Kyndall Richardson, Avery Crenshaw, and Kynnedy Riley also had a hit in the game.

“It was a disappointing loss for the girls and coaches, but the girls showed heart, spirit, and perseverance throughout both games. In the grand scheme of things, that will do more for them in life than whether or not they won the state tournament in 2018.

“Would we have liked to have gone to Louisiana to represent Virginia? Absolutely. However, this team represented our community in such a positive way. We, the coaches, could not have been more proud of them,” said Salley.

“Coaching can sometimes be a hard job, but with this group of girls, and their families, it was such a joyful and rewarding experience. The parents let me coach the girls. If I needed to be tough, they supported that. When we were down and out after the first loss to Amherst, the parents were there to encourage the coaches and the girls. So I would like to thank them for that,” said Salley.

In earlier action, Halifax fell to Amherst on July 15, 12-1. The local all-stars rallied for a 9-6 win over Crewe-Burkeville on July 16.

Allie Payne, Emmerson Salley, and Ashlyn Epperson went 3-3 at the plate. Ella Seamster, Hayden Rudder, Kennedy Bowen, Kyndall Richardson, Avery Crenshaw, Lily Hammock, and Aliyah Norwood also were productive at the plate with one hit each.

“Our defense bounced back and had a strong performance as well, holding Crewe scoreless until the third inning,” said Salley.

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