NR softball wins 10-inning epic
Published 7:51 pm Saturday, April 16, 2016
Before the Nansemond River High School softball team faced off against visiting Grassfield High School on Friday, Lady Warriors coach Gabe Rogers spoke to his team.
He noted it was not expected to win. The Lady Grizzlies are the defending Group 6A state champions and the top-ranked team in the area.
But he added, “Let’s just go out and play our best softball and see what happens.”
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What unfolded was a 10-inning epic that featured remarkable poise from both teams and clutch play down the stretch from Nansemond River that lifted it to a 2-1 victory.
“I thought it was one of the best games I’ve ever been a part of,” Rogers said. “I know how important that game was to the girls.”
They were playing against a lot of girls that they play with in travel ball, something that always adds intensity to meetings between their school teams.
“In my opinion, it’s two evenly matched teams, and you saw that for 10 innings,” Rogers said.
Grassfield took the early lead when a triple and an error helped it go up 1-0 in the first inning.
Nansemond River did not respond until the bottom of the fourth, but it was worth the wait to fans who got to see senior Calah Savage launch a ball more than 230 feet through the air for a solo home run.
“That meant the world to me because we were down, and we really needed to get our head back in the game, and I think that did it for us,” Savage said.
It was her fourth homer of the season.
The score remained tied at 1-1 for the next five innings as both teams displayed skill on defense.
At one point in the top of the eighth, it appeared to one umpire that a Grassfield runner was safe at first, allowing a runner from third to reach home and give the Lady Grizzlies a 2-1 lead.
But a conference between umpires confirmed that senior first baseman Lauren Davis, who had been making big plays all game long, had just made another, with her foot firmly planted against the base as she made the catch.
Things did not look good for Nansemond River in the top of the 10th inning when the Lady Grizzlies loaded the bases with only one out, but the Lady Warriors came through.
Senior second baseman Jaclyn Mounie caught a fly ball, and then, when her team needed it most, senior pitcher Lauren Maddrey struck out a talented Grassfield batter.
“Lauren was absolutely phenomenal in the circle tonight,” Rogers said. “Dave (Glover) called a great game, and Lauren executed it.”
Maddrey pitched all 10 innings, getting stronger as the game went on. She finished with five strikeouts, giving up two walks and four hits.
Rogers praised his team’s defense behind Maddrey, as well, noting how dangerous of an offense that the Lady Grizzlies have.
“They’ve really scored a lot of runs against a lot of good teams, and to be able to hold them to one run for 10 innings is quite an accomplishment,” he said.
With two outs on her team in the bottom of the 10th, Nansemond River senior Maddie McGrath got up in the count and then got aggressive, hitting a deep drive to the right center gap for a double.
“I’ve got to admit, I was really nervous, but I just went in there and not thinking and just focused on every pitch that was pitched to me, and I actually prayed before that hit,” McGrath said.
Lady Warrior junior Kelly Lafferty came up next with the opportunity to win the game.
“The enormity of the situation for a lot of kids can overwhelm them,” Rogers said. Before she got her hit, he said he noticed that “she just took this deep breath and just kind of exhaled and everything calmed down.”
She hit a hard fly ball line drive to the left field line.
“You kind of knew the game was over as soon as it touched the grass,” Rogers said.
Lafferty admitted to nerves before the hit, but got herself focused, “and then when I hit it, as soon as I made contact, in my mind, I just knew (Maddie) was going home, and we had won that game.”
Lafferty, Savage, and Mounie finished with two hits apiece.
Nansemond River (10-2) visits King’s Fork High School on Monday and hosts Lakeland High School on Tuesday.