Bulldogs punctuate season with title

Published 10:58pm Friday, June 14, 2013

The Suffolk Youth Athletic Association Mustang softball team known as the Bulldogs used a staunch defense and great pitching from Reese Byrd to give their impressive year the most fitting conclusion.

Playing in the championship game of a Western Tidewater Softball Conference that features teams from Holland, Smithfield, Suffolk and Windsor, the Bulldogs defeated the Holland 10U squad by the score of 7-5, ending the season with a 15-1 record.

The girls produced a performance that was characteristic of what head coach Wesley Jones has come to expect from them.

“We’ve been coaching them for a long time,” he said. “They never give up. They’re always improving; they’re very coachable.”

The Bulldogs had faced this same Holland team twice prior to the title game.

“They beat us once, we beat them once,” Jones said.

They dealt the Suffolk team its only loss, 1-0. However, in the semifinals of the double-elimination season-ending tournament, the Bulldogs returned the favor with interest, winning 6-0.

Holland worked its way back and made the final, guaranteeing what former SYAA head softball commissioner David Goodman called “the game of the century” due to the pitching battle that would help determine the champion.

Suffolk naturally put Byrd on the mound, but Holland also had a strong pitcher in Taylor Cherry.

“That was probably the two best 10U pitchers around right now,” Goodman said, reflecting on the game and the season.

In the league, pitchers were allowed to throw no more than four of the six innings in a game, but each pitcher showed her strength in that time in the championship.

Jones praised Byrd, saying, “She threw four shutout innings, and she only had one hit on her.”

Byrd pitched the first, second, fifth and sixth innings.

Despite the Bulldogs’ strong defensive effort, Holland struck in the third inning and carried a 5-2 lead into the fourth inning.

Karley Wetmore provided solid relief pitching in the fourth with a shutout inning. She also went 1-for-2 from the plate for the game and scored a run.

When Cherry rested in the fourth, Suffolk was able to rally with five runs to take the lead for good.

Coach Jones highlighted Julie Jones for her defense at shortstop and her bat. She went 2-for-2 with a run batted in.

Elizabeth Hobbs drew her coach’s praise for outstanding defensive play at first base and her batting that featured a line drive to left field in the middle of the game.

Jones also noted catcher Lexy Massey, who was a nemesis to opposing base runners.

“Great defense,” Jones said. “Nobody stole on her.”

Jones credited his fellow coaches for helping lead the team to success, including assistant coach Jimmy Byrd, first base coach Steve McAdoo and hitting coach Allen Wetmore.

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