Paul VI returns favor vs. NSA

Published 11:33 pm Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk catcher Macy Mears tags a Paul VI runner out at the plate during Tuesday’s VIS State Tournament quarterfinal at Nansemond-Suffolk. Paul VI upset the No. 3-seeded Lady Saints 9-4. The Lady Saints end the season 18-4.

Nansemond-Suffolk’s team huddle a few minutes after Tuesday’s Virginia Independent School State Tournament quarterfinal ended with the Lady Saint coaches gathering the six juniors on the team around for a second huddle.

That’s because the Lady Saints were forced to look ahead to next season by a team NSA did the same thing to a year ago in the last eight of states. Paul VI avenged a 1-0 defeat to the Lady Saints a year ago with a 9-4 win over the No. 3-seeded Lady Saints.

The sixth-seeded visitors from Fairfax did lots of slugging on the day, piling up 14 hits. The Lady Panther offense was likely enough to pull the upset on its own, but a few Lady Saint errors, with most coming at especially bad times with Lady Panthers on base, put the game out of reach heading into the last couple innings.

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“From the moment I walked on the field for warm-ups, I could tell our heads were not in it. We didn’t bring the same mindset we had versus Greenbrier Christian,” NSA head coach Kim Aston said.

The Lady Saints dropped a nine-inning 3-2 game to Greenbrier in the conference tournament final Thursday.

“We were looking past (Tuesday’s) game. We thought just by showing up we were going to win,” Aston said.

Paul VI strung three solid hits together in the second inning to move out to a 1-0 lead. The Lady Panther third opened with a runner on second and one out before a misplayed fly to left turned a threat into more, with a run scoring and the Lady Panther hitter moving around to second. The Paul VI third ended with a 3-0 lead.

Even when NSA held the Lady Panthers blanked in a frame, it took two plays at the plate to end the first and fourth innings.

In the first, a throw to third trying to get a stealing Lady Panther went awry. Shortstop Kelsey Ritter tracked down the ball in short leftfield and threw to Macy Mears at the plate in time for a tag.

To end the Lady Panther fourth, Kaitlyn McCracken fielded a bloop single in left and threw out a Paul VI runner trying to score from second.

McCracken hit a two-out single to drive in Nicole Turner to put NSA on the board in the bottom of the fourth.

The momentum didn’t last long, though, as the Lady Panthers put four runs up in the fifth with three hits, but with also an error, two wild pitches and a grounder that, while not an official error, could’ve been a force out at third helping the Lady Panthers stretch their margin.

Paul VI tacked on two more runs in the sixth for a 9-2 lead.

Morgan Daughtry pitched the first 4.1 innings for the Lady Saints. Devin Coyne came on in relief to pitch the rest of the way.

“(Paul VI) hit the ball well, but we should’ve made plays straight from the beginning of the game,” Aston said.

The Lady Saints finish the season with an 18-4 overall record.