Extra innings tough on NR again

Published 10:51 pm Wednesday, May 13, 2009

You didn’t need to see the scoreboard after Wednesday’s Nansemond River High softball game to know the Warriors hadn’t won their Southeastern District and season finale against visiting Great Bridge. All you had to do was follow the sound of singing across the parking lot to the visiting Wildcats’ team bus.

Nansemond River’s players were understandably subdued after falling 3-1 in eight innings. But Warriors coach Tim Tarafas was upbeat, despite knowing the loss had cost his club any shot at reaching the district’s four-team, postseason tournament.

“We started the season going to extra innings against a team (Western Branch) that was touted as the best in the district,” Tarafas said of an 11-inning setback in March. “And we finished it with an extra-inning loss to what turned out to be the best team in the district. Our kids played hard and I can’t ask for more.”


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“At the start of the season, we said our goals were to restore pride to the program, to have fun and the become a true team,” the first-year coach said. “Going 11-7 on top of that means we had a successful season even though we didn’t make the tournament.”

Nansemond River, which will finish either fifth or sixth in the 10-team district, surrendered Wednesday’s first run in the seventh inning. Warrior pitcher Jenna Bryant had allowed only three hits to that point, but she gave up that many in the seventh alone. Great Bridge’s Brooke Davis smacked a leadoff double and scored when Kristen Olson followed with a triple.

Nansemond River answered in its half of the seventh with a leadoff double of its own, this one by Joycelin Ward. The next two batters struck out but Loren Daubenspeck’s squib single over first base and just inside the foul line tied the game.

Bryant allowed a leadoff single and a walk to open the eighth inning. Shortstop Stephanie Tarafas then dropped a popup but recovered to force out the runner coming into second base. However, the play still cost Nansemond River when the next batter singled home a runner from third. The Wildcat runner who had reached first on Tarafas’ error later scored on a wild pitch and three Warriors struck out in the bottom of the eighth to end the game.

Bryant allowed six hits while striking out nine batters and walking one. Tarafas praised his ace, who will soon graduate and is expected to be replaced by the tandem of Meghan Folden and Rachel Hawks.

“I don’t know that the pressure got to Jenna or she ran out of gas,” Tarafas said. “But she threw eight innings against the best hitters in the district and that’s a heck of a challenge. She’s been phenomenal all season and I wouldn’t want this game to define her.”

Kaitlyn Szczepanski allowed six hits and struck out 15 batters while walking none for Great Bridge, which improved to 17-2 overall and finished 16-2 in district play.