NR sweeps city rival

Published 10:35 am Saturday, May 2, 2009

Earlier this season, the Nansemond River High softball team routed city and Southeastern District rival King’s Fork by a dozen runs. Friday, the Warriors won 4-1 and in a different fashion.

This time the hosts used fewer hits but delivered them at key times, combining that opportunistic offense with outstanding pitching and defense to seal a regular-season sweep of the Bulldogs.

“What we had today was the power of the base hit,” said Nansemond River coach Tim Tarafas, whose team improved to 9-5 overall and in district play. “Jenna Bryant pitched phenomenally. She kept them off balance and defensively, we played very well.”

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Bryant threw a three-hitter with eight strikeouts, although she uncorked a pair of wild pitches in the seventh inning that ruined her shutout bid. At season’s start, Bryant would likely have been considered a notch below King’s Fork starter Lindsey Holloman, but she was clearly the better pitcher Friday.

Holloman, who has committed to play at UNC-Charlotte next year, allowed five hits while striking out six in an uncharacteristically mediocre performance. The senior has battled illness lately and looked tentative and uncomfortable at times, but Bulldogs coach Richard Froemel said he thought Holloman’s troubles were more mental than physical.

“I think she’s more frustrated than anything,” Froemel said, noting that Holloman shut out Deep Creek on a one-hitter earlier this week. “She’s usually good at focusing mentally but she wore her emotions on her sleeve a bit today.”

Nansemond River seized the upper hand early when Bryant got all three first-inning outs on strikeouts and Warriors leadoff hitter Stephanie Tarafas doubled. Kayla Coburn sacrificed Tarafas to third and Alex Keiser’s groundout to second opened the scoring.

Nansemond River got two more runs in the fourth. Keiser tripled and scored when the next batter, Anna Cain, hit a sacrifice fly to right field. Joycelin Ward then singled, took second on a wild pitch and scored on a Bryant single.

The Warriors earned their final run in the sixth. Ward hit a line drive to the right side and charging King’s Fork right fielder Megan Blythe had the ball kick off her glove and roll far behind her. Ward wound up on third and scored on a passed ball.

“She tried to field the ball off to her side and then any throw from right field is going to be a long one,” Froemel said of Blythe’s error. “She’s young and she’ll learn and bounce back.”

King’s Fork got on the scoreboard in the seventh. Nicki Cuevas singled, moved to second on a wild pitch and to third on a Melanie Williams groundout, then scored on another wild pitch. Avoiding the shutout was only a silver lining, however, and Friday’s loss means King’s Fork probably needs to sweep Grassfield next week in a home-and-home series on consecutive days if it’s to qualify for the district’s four-team postseason tournament.

“This didn’t help at all,” Froemel said. “We were looking to get this one and give ourselves some breathing room to maybe only have to win one of those two against Grassfield. Now, we’ve just got to strap it up and play with desperation both days.”