NR softball clinches state bid

Published 9:48 pm Friday, June 2, 2017

The Lady Warriors softball team clinched a bid to the state tournament after a 2-0 5A South regional semifinal win Thursday.

The Lady Warriors are state bound after the shutout at Stoney Park. Nansemond River defeated Menchville High School to give themselves a chance to compete in the 5A state tournament.

“I’m so fired up,” Lady Warriors coach Gabe Rogers said emphatically. “Man I’m just so proud of these girls. A lot of people didn’t think we would be in this position. We love the fact we were underdogs all year. We talk about how it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks but only what we think.”

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It was expected to be somewhat of a rebuilding year for Nansemond River softball. They graduated seven seniors from last year’s team who were major contributors. Some of the players who have played in their shadows were getting their first chance to prove themselves in bigger roles.

There may have been people who thought the Lady Warriors could be decent this year, but some may not have thought the state level was possible.

“It’s off the charts how those girls embraced their opportunities,” Rogers said. “At first it was hard getting everyone to buy into what we were doing. However, once we started winning, things changed and we started seeing what we were doing payoff.”

Madie Rhoads, PenSouth Player of The Year, pitched a one-hitter Thursday. A diving play by the Lady Warriors, which was ruled a dropped ball, counted as a hit for Menchville. Otherwise, Rhoads could have pitched a no-hitter. In the last meeting, Nansemond River fell to Menchville in the PenSouth championship after going undefeated in the regular season.

The Lady Warriors knew what was at stake and knew they’d have nerves. However, early in the game, those nerves went away as they rolled on to a win.

“I felt I played well, considering my nerves,” Rhoads said. “I knew it was a big game and I had to get myself together. I got over my nerves after the first pitch. I am always telling myself that I have nothing to worry about — just be confident.”

“We talked each other through the nerves,” Lady Warrior Katelyn Biando said. “We pumped each other up. It was a good kind of nervous.”

Even though Nansemond River finished with the No. 1 seed in the conference this year, Rogers felt they were still not respected enough. The Lady Warriors had five players make all-conference teams but felt a few players were snubbed. They took that motivation into the postseason, and now they are state tournament bound.