NSA clinches softball title

Published 9:00 pm Saturday, May 12, 2012

NSA’s Morgan Daughtry pitches against GCA as shortstop Brooke Starling adjusts during the TCIS Championship game on Friday. The Lady Saints won 1-0 over Greenbrier Christian Academy.

By Titus Mohler
Correspondent

For seven NSA seniors, the chance for a TCIS softball title was their last, the opponent was their archrival, the archrival was the champion nine years running, and the one loss this season was from them, but for the 2012 Lady Saints, the lining was silver.

The team’s stars helped bring home a 1-0 victory over Greenbrier Christian Academy in the TCIS championship game on Friday evening.

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“I can’t even describe how great I feel right now!” NSA pitcher Morgan Daughtry said. “Since I’ve been playing since my freshman year, we’ve always made it to the championship and this is the first year we’ve actually pulled it out. We’ve always played Greenbrier and this is the first time it’s ever happened and it’s unbelievable.”

Morgan Daughtry simply did everything a team’s premier player is supposed to do in a championship game. She pitched a shut-out against NSA’s biggest rival for the past two decades, hit the double that brought home the winning run, and won the tournament MVP award.

The score was 0-0 going into the fourth inning. Sophomore catcher Macy Mears singled to right field and senior shortstop Brooke Starling followed up with a bunt single.

“I thought Brooke and Macy — you know, if I can get both of them on, I feel pretty good because we have good speed on the bases,” head coach Kim Aston said.

Then, Daughtry came up to bat.

“Morgan Daughtry hit that ball to centerfield and I just sent (Mears),” Aston said.

“I just had to run hard,” Mears said. “I saw Kim waving us on and just kept on running.”

“I didn’t even realize,” Daughtry said. “As soon as I hit it, I thought the pitcher caught it, so I was just running it out and then Kim told me to go (to second base) and I was like, ‘What is happening?’”

“I thought if the centerfielder came up and threw to home it was going to be a close play and they cut it,” Aston said.

“I was thinking, ‘This is our chance, it only takes one run,’” Mears said, “and after all, it did only take one run.”

The rest was defense. Daughtry threw five strikeouts, several of which came at crucial points late in the game. She had plenty of help, though. Senior second baseman Morgan Lokie had key catches for outs and senior third baseman Nicole Turner ended the third inning with a dramatic last-second throw to first.

Particularly clutch down the stretch was Brooke Starling. An injury on the team forced her to learn a new position this year. While she committed a few errors in the first inning on Friday, they only made her late-game heroics seem more remarkable by contrast.

The outs for the bottom of the seventh went like this: a batter hits a grounder, Starling throws her out at first; the next batter hits a grounder, Starling throws her out at first; a batter hits a pop fly to centerfield, junior Katelyn McCracken catches it to end the game.

“As soon as it hit and I knew it was going out to the outfield,” Daughtry said, “‘I was like, ‘This is over. Katelyn’s got it ‘cause she always goes so hard for the ball.’”

NSA begins round one of the state tournament at home on Tuesday, but the significance of this particular game was clear.

“I’ve been waiting four years for this and everyone played so well and I’m so proud of everyone,” Starling said.

“I wanted it for our seniors, our seven seniors,” Mears said.

And they brought it home.