Lady Saints advance to championship

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, May 17, 2012

By Titus Mohler

Correspondent

NSA’s softball team will play for the Division I state championship Friday after defeating Paul VI by the score of 2-1 in Thursday’s semifinal round of the VISAA tournament.

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The Lady Saints (22-1) averaged 10.2 runs per game coming in, but the lack of offense was supplemented by stingy defense and clutch pitching by Morgan Daughtry.

“It was pretty much what I thought (it would be),” NSA coach Kim Aston said. “I mean, every year we’ve played them, I think we’ve been pretty equally matched. They’re very solid in the infield, defensively.”

Following their tendency to waste no time offensively, the Lady Saints scored all their runs in the first inning. Macy Mears got on and then Brooke Starling moved her to second with a bunt. Brooklyn Carr scored Mears with a bunt, and Starling ended up scoring later as well.

“We scored our two runs right away and then just, throughout the game, we periodically kept getting people on,” Aston said. “We moved them to third once, most of the time we had people on first and second and just couldn’t get anything across the plate.”

The close margin meant the top of the seventh inning was quite intense.

“They got a runner on first to lead off the inning and then Morgan struck out one,” Aston said. “Then they stole second and then she went to third on a passed ball and so they had a runner on third with one out.”

Then, the Lady Saints came up with two crucial outs to end the game. Nicole Turner fielded a ground ball and threw out the hitter at first. Then, Ugi Metzger caught a fly ball in left field to end the game.

Aston also mentioned the defensive efforts of Starling and Katelyn McCracken as well. In a dramatic fifth inning play, McCracken threw out a Paul VI runner at home plate from centerfield. Had the runner scored, she would have tied up the game.

The Lady Saints now advance to play the Bishop O’Connell Lady Knights for the state championship.

Aston provides some history on NSA and the state title game.

“(The Lady Saints) actually won it in ’93 which was the first year that, I think, they actually had a state tournament for the independent schools,” she said. “My sister was on that team so that’s why I know the year. And that’s the only team that’s won it.”

Since 1993, the state crown has belonged to the same team almost every single year — Bishop O’Connell. Aston explains the history that this group of Lady Saints has had with them.

“We played them two years ago and we lost to them 4-0,” she said. “They had a really good team that year and actually we played them in the semis and then in the championship game, they won the championship game 12-0 that year.”

To win, Aston feels they need to stick with what has worked.

“I think if we can just put the ball in play, we’ll have a pretty good chance because they don’t look to be as strong as they have in the past defensively, but their pitcher and catcher are very good,” she said. “So, we’re going to have to put the bat on the ball and make them make plays. I mean, basically the same kind of game plan that we had against Greenbrier Christian.”

The state championship will take place on Friday at 5 p.m. in Petersburg.