Galaxy wins second straight state title

Published 8:35 pm Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Winning tournaments has become second nature for the Galaxy 10-and-under fastpitch travel team. Apparently, so has capturing state titles. The Suffolk-based squad successfully defended its National Softball Association Virginia State Championship crown June 20 and 21 in Sterling.

“It doesn’t get any bigger than this,” said manager Bill Terry. “To win back-to-back NSA state titles is just unbelievable. We’ve built quite a program here in Suffolk. Over the last two years, our 10U teams have won 97 games and 17 tournament championships. It’s something the city should be very proud of.”

The two-day tournament got off to a rainy start, with the Galaxy finally taking the field Saturday afternoon for its first game in the double-elimination tournament.

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Opening against the Leesburg Revolution, the Galaxy needed only three innings before the game was called because of the mercy rule. Saturday’s second game matched the Galaxy against RBI Inferno of Richmond, a team they had beaten in the championship game of the Colonial Invitational earlier in the month. The result was about the same, with the Galaxy collecting 10 hits en route to a 9-0 victory. In Saturday’s nightcap, the Galaxy defeated a strong Aftershock team from the Roanoke Valley, 7-3.

“We knew we had to finish 3-0 on the first day,” Terry said. “If you lose early, you’re looking at having to win seven or eight games in a row to get to the championship. Our coaching staff told the girls they didn’t want to have to go down that road.”

Unfortunately, Sunday’s first game led to that very detour. With weather again delaying play until late afternoon, the Galaxy dropped an emotional 2-1 game to the Maroon Crush of Salem.

“We were the last two undefeated teams standing,” Terry said. “So that meant they [Maroon Crush] could sit back and relax. We knew we were in for a very long night.”

Terry was right. In order to get back to the championship game, the Galaxy first had to beat the Aftershock which had advanced through the losers’ bracket.

Trailing 3-1 and with the time clock expired, the Galaxy managed to tie the score in the bottom of the fourth to send the game into extra innings. Playing under International Tie-Breaker Rules (ITB), both teams started the fifth inning with a runner on second base.

The defense held tight in the top of the fifth, keeping the Aftershock off the scoreboard. The Galaxy started its half of the inning with Carrollton’s Morgan Riddle on second base. Falyn Fentress of Bennett’s Creek battled long enough at the plate to allow Riddle to steal third base. Drew Edwards of Chuckatuck then laid down a perfect bunt, but the Aftershock was smart enough to hold the ball and keep Riddle at third.

Several plays later and with the bases loaded and two outs, Jac Mounie of Bennett’s Creek delivered a base hit to right, allowing Edwards to score the winning run. Pitchers Savannah Jackson, Lauren Maddrey and Trish Webb combined for the win.

After a 10-minute break, the Galaxy was back on the field to face the Maroon Crush.

“I’m sure they [Maroon Crush] were very confident. We were in their position last year, needing to win just one game. But Galaxy girls just don’t know how to quit. We figured we could play until midnight if need be,” said Terry.

In the first championship game, the Galaxy opened with seven consecutive hits and eventually won 7-3 to force a second game. It, too, would turn out to be a battle.

The Galaxy opened up a 4-0 lead in the first inning, highlighted by catcher Rose Gent’s third home run of the tournament. But the Maroon Crush refused to back down, eventually tying the score 4-4. The Galaxy responded with runs by Carollton’s Mackenzie and Mounie in the fourth and fifth innings, eventually giving the team a three-run cushion going into the bottom of the final inning. A pop-up first out to first baseman Calah Savage of Bennett’s Creek, followed by back-to-back strike outs by Webb, sealed the title.

“The girls basically played four straight games from Sunday afternoon until late Sunday night without ever coming off the field,” Terry said. “But that’s what we do. It sure did make that drive back from Northern Virginia in the middle of the night a lot easier.”

The Galaxy 10U has compiled a record of 39-3 this spring, winning seven tournaments including the NSA Eastern North Carolina State Championship. The team will complete its season in late July, when it travels to Chattanooga, Tenn., for the NSA Class A World Series.