Lady Bulldogs fall to Nansemond River

Published 10:46 pm Thursday, April 3, 2014

Errors helped account for runs on both sides of Nansemond River High School and host King’s Fork High School’s clash on the softball field Wednesday evening. It was the Lady Bulldogs who struggled more, however, contributing to a 10-2 loss to the Lady Warriors.

“I’m just happy we won,” NR head coach Gabe Rogers said. “It was a conference game.”

King’s Fork continued to struggle in a similar manner that accounted for its recent 4-3 loss to Lakeland High School. The Lady Bulldogs offense sputtered, only registering three hits.

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“Anytime that you have more errors than you have hits, you’re not going to come up on the winning end,” KF head coach Richard Froemel said.

His team had the benefit of junior star pitcher Sydney Wash for four innings, though Froemel noted her back injury caused her speed to be somewhat diminished. She threw four strikeouts.

When she left the game, the Lady Warriors were up 3-2.

“When you don’t have the (2013) Pitcher of the Year in the Southeastern District in your lineup, it’s going to be hard to replace that,” Froemel said.

But he emphasized that her replacement, sophomore Kay’Lee Justice, who also threw four strikeouts, is doing a fine job.

“We’re just not supporting her offensively, and a lot of it is our own fault on defense,” he said.

The King’s Fork offense took the opportunities that came to it in the first inning, however, when Nansemond River committed three errors.

“The five games we played before that, I think we have committed just three errors in the five games combined,” Rogers said.

The sloppy start gave the Lady Bulldogs a 2-0 lead entering the second inning, and it seemed to wake up Nansemond River. Defensively, it did not commit any more errors and offensively, it became more disciplined at the plate.

Rogers praised another great job done by sophomore KateLynn Hodgkiss in the leadoff spot of the lineup. In three games holding this spot, she has gotten on base eight out of 12 times, for a .750 on-base percentage.

“Obviously, from the leadoff spot, that’s exactly what you want,” Rogers said. Hodgkiss got on base twice Wednesday evening.

Sophomore Lauren Davis had three runs batted in for the game and was instrumental in helping her team take back the lead in the fourth inning. With a 2-2 count, she hit a double to the left-center gap, bringing in the tying run.

Then, with Davis stealing third and King’s Fork junior Jasmine Holloman moving to cover third, freshman Katelyn Biando singled to the vacated shortstop area, scoring Davis.

Davis also started in a new defensive position.

“I think I did really well playing in left (field) for the first time,” she said.

Sophomore Calah Savage also got on base twice.

Rogers noted his team benefited from four King’s Fork errors in the seventh inning, scoring four runs without registering a single hit.

Nevertheless, the Lady Warriors employed small ball, in part, out of respect for the quality of its opponent. Rogers said playing against an “evenly matched team, you have to try to force action, create action, and make kids make plays,” he said.

On defense, pitcher Lauren Maddrey continued a stellar start to her sophomore season, throwing eight strikeouts.

“So far this year, she’s really thrown lights out,” Rogers said. “We’ve played six games, and in six games, she’s actually only given up three earned runs.”

After Wednesday’s game, Froemel said he told his players “we’re dealing with a two-headed monster now.”

The first is a physical problem that can be fixed by listening to instruction and practice. The second is the mental state of low confidence.

“I know you can play, but don’t start doubting yourself,” he said he told them.

Though it was hard to identify highlights in a game like Wednesday’s, he praised senior Kayla Harbin’s play, both on offense and defense.

He plans to rest Wash today when the Lady Bulldogs (2-2, 0-2) host Oscar Smith High School. At the same time, Nansemond River (5-1, 2-0) will host Hickory High School.