NRHS gets small ball revenge

Published 10:54pm Friday, May 17, 2013

Nansemond River High School’s Lady Warriors paid back a loss earlier in the season to Western Branch High School by eliminating them from the Southeastern District tournament in Friday night’s opening round.

Using bunts and savvy hitting, No. 3 Nansemond River’s softball team eliminated No. 4 Western Branch by the score of 9-5. The players capitalized on the message head coach Gabe Rogers hammered home all week long.

Nansemond River senior Jazmine Card connects with the ball during the Lady Warriors' 9-5 victory over Western Branch High School in the opening round of the Southeastern District tournament on Friday at Nansemond River High School.
Nansemond River senior Jazmine Card connects with the ball during the Lady Warriors’ 9-5 victory over Western Branch High School in the opening round of the Southeastern District tournament on Friday at Nansemond River High School.

“I said, ‘Look, we’re going to commit to playing small ball,’” he said. “‘We’re going to put their team in motion — make them make plays, and we didn’t do that last time.’ And tonight, we made them make plays.”

Rogers explained that in the recent 11-1 loss to Western Branch, his team was looking to slam the ball, rather than rely upon shorter, smarter hits that would let it take advantage of its speed to get on base.  It ended up hitting right to the other team.

Rather than get itself in a hole on Friday, the Lady Warriors struck in the first inning thanks to the bat of Maddie McGrath.

“We don’t ever do anything passive,” Rogers said. “If it’s a pitch you know that you can handle, and you can put it in play, you do what you’ve got to do. And she came up with a big two-out hit that scored two RBIs, and that’s what gave us that 3-0 lead. That really took a lot of pressure off of us.”

McGrath went 2-for-4 with three RBIs for the game. She summed up what enabled her to make such an impact.

“I was just focused the whole time, and I was really hyped for this game, and I guess I just wanted to win really bad,” she said.

One thing that had Lady Warriors coaches and players filled with pride was the team-oriented nature of the win. The team produced 15 hits coming from eight different girls and scored nine runs by six different players.

Sydney Glover was among the big contributors, going 3-for-4 with one run scored and one RBI.

“I was really proud of my entire team,” she said. “I knew coming from the last game, we knew we just had to be focused to beat them. We knew they could hit. So, I think just some of the plays we made defensively were amazing, and then just having the entire team contribute so many hits, it felt so good to see everybody stepping up and doing what they had to do and just working as a true team.”

Jazmine Card went 2-for-4 and Jac Mounie went 2-for-3 with three RBIs. Mounie was particularly stellar on defense, with eight put outs. Among them was a diving play that ended the sixth inning and a momentum-stunting second-out catch in the top of the seventh with the bases loaded.

“I just did what I had to do out there,” Mounie said.

Nansemond River now advances to play No. 2 Hickory High School, a team it has lost to twice this season, but Rogers likes what his team is up to after Friday.

“We’ve got to continue to do what we did tonight,” he said.

KateLynn Hodgkiss, who went 3-for-4 with three runs scored, expressed confidence about the rematch with the Lady Hawks.

“I think we’re ready for it,” she said. “We’ve always been able to beat them, we’ve always had the mentality that we could, now we just got to go out there and show it.”

The Lady Warriors will face Hickory on Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at Nansemond River High School.

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