NSA girls hope to finish strong
Published 11:29 pm Thursday, April 5, 2012
By Titus Mohler
A battle-hardened, veteran Nansemond-Suffolk Academy softball squad carries a number two Division 1 ranking and an undefeated record into the second half of the 2012 season.
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“So far, we’re doing extremely well,” head coach Kim Aston said early this week. “I wouldn’t say that I’m surprised to be 9-0. There were some games that could have gone either way, in my mind, and in the last couple years we’ve lost a couple early on that have hurt us.”
But this year, the story has been different. The 2012 Lady Saints field a team comprising six seniors, four of whom are four-year starters; the other two are three-year starters.
“We have experience, and we have leadership this year, which is something in the past three years we’ve been missing a little bit of,” Aston said. “If you set a goal, you have to do things to accomplish it. We’ve had teams that like to set goals, but maybe don’t put in exactly what’s needed to accomplish it. With this team, I feel like they’re on track.”
“They’re very driven,” assistant coach Rudy Copeland said. “This is a very driven group.”
This senior class has been led by pitcher/infielder Morgan Daughtry (4-0) who has a .636 batting average, along with 18 runs and 13 RBIs. Daughtry shares team captain duties with two other players, including fellow senior Nicole Turner.
According to the coaches, what has driven the team this year has been more than just the seniors’ leadership, but also their memories — memories of things they don’t want to repeat.
“We’ve had a couple years of coming up just shy, just close enough that I think they are tired of that experience, tired of that feeling,” Copeland said.
“We’d lost in the state semifinal game their sophomore year,” Aston said. “Last year we lost in the quarterfinals, and we shouldn’t have, and I think that that left a bad taste in their mouth — left a bad taste in all of our mouths — because we knew we were much better than that.”
The other seniors include second-base/outfielder Brooke Starling, who leads the team in stolen bases; outfielder Jordan Cipcic; outfielder/pitcher Ugi Metzger; and infielder/catcher Morgan Lokie.
There has not been a lot of turnover in students on the team, so this group has been together for a long time, and this is their last chance to reach the state championship.
“We all feel the pressure,” Daughtry said. “We have the potential to do it.”
Younger players have been instrumental as well. The third team captain is sophomore Macy Mears, who has been an impact player for the team since last year.
The closest thing to a surprise this season has been the play of eighth-grader Brooklyn Carr. She has emerged as one of the top hitters on the team with a .613 batting average, 11 runs and a team-leading 15 RBIs.
The Lady Saints were set to face archrival Greenbrier Christian Academy on Thursday. For the last three years, showdowns between NSA and GCA have decided which team wins the TCIS championship, and Aston does not except this year to be any different.
At the very least, NSA’s undefeated record would be on the line.
With great success comes the great responsibility for the coaches to keep the players focused and not let 9-0 get in their heads.
“It’s just keeping them focused on the next task, not kind of buying into the record,” Copeland said. “You still have to prove yourself every time you go out.”