Lady Saints fall to Gators in extra innings

Published 9:43 pm Friday, May 15, 2015

Each game this year against Greenbrier Christian Academy brought Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s softball team a step closer to toppling the perennial juggernaut.

But on Thursday, in their last possible meeting this season, the Lady Saints came up short in heartbreaking fashion.

After taking a 3-2 lead in the fifth inning, they fell into a tie when the Lady Gators scored in the bottom of the seventh inning. Greenbrier Christian scored again in the bottom of the eighth, ending NSA’s season with a 4-3 loss in the VISAA Division II state semifinals in Sutherland.

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“We gave our all,” Lady Saints coach Brittany Wilkins said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the girls.”

Nansemond-Suffolk ended its regular season with a 9-0 loss to the Lady Gators on May 4. Next it faced GCA in the conference tournament championship on May 8, orchestrating a fierce rally in the fifth but ultimately falling 9-7. Then there was its performance in Thursday’s contest.

“It was the best game that we’ve played all season,” Wilkins said.

In their previous game against Greenbrier Christian, the Lady Saints took until the fourth inning to score, but on Thursday, they scored first in the first. The Lady Gators tied things up 1-1 in the bottom of the inning and then took a 2-1 lead after the second, but NSA evened things in the third.

GCA had two errors to Nansemond-Suffolk’s one, but Wilkins said she thought the deciding factor of the game was “the fact that we had seven hits, and they had eight. That eighth hit drove in the last run, and that was it.”

Similar to the conference tourney title game, the Lady Saints’ offensive production ended in the fifth inning.

But NSA’s strong performance in the May 8 game definitely helped them enter the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division II state semifinal with confidence.

“We had the mindset that it was our game to win,” Wilkins said.

Lady Saints senior Madi Glynn made a strong contribution on offense, going 3-for-4 with two runs scored, and junior Brooklyne Carr went 2-for-4 with two runs batted in.

Freshman Emerson Puzey had an RBI and a run scored, and she pitched the entire game for Nansemond-Suffolk. While she had no strikeouts, Greenbrier Christian struggled to generate strikeouts, too. Its pitcher had only one.

On Friday, reflecting on the 2015 season overall, Wilkins said, “I think I’ll remember it by the last game yesterday. We started off very slow this year, and I kept telling the girls that we had the potential to be great.”

She said that in the past two weeks alone, she has seen so much growth and maturity in the girls as they played as a team and played how she knew they were capable of playing.

“Yesterday’s game will definitely define the season to me — not the score, obviously — but how they played,” Wilkins said.

The Lady Saints finished the year with a 14-8 record overall, 6-1 within the Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools during the regular season.