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Title Hopes Strengthen For Varsity Softball

Halifax County High School senior hurler Stephanie Clark admitted to not feeling well prior to the start of Friday night’s game against Franklin County High School in Rocky Mount. One could only wonder what Clark may have done had she been well.

Clark went the distance, fanning eight batters and yielding five scattered hits. She helped her own cause at the plate with a big 3-for-3 night with two runs scored to help lead the Comets to a 7-2 win over the Eagles in a key Western Valley District contest.

“I’d have hated to have seen what she would have done had she felt well,” Comets head coach Melanie Saunders remarked with a grin.

“Stephanie had a really bad ear infection and was on antibiotics. It was hot and she was out there in that heat and dealing with the medication. This was a game that we all wanted. I think that’s what she was feeling. She pitched a heck of a game for us and had one of her best days at the plate. We knew she wanted it, being a senior and playing at Franklin County.”

The win kept the Comets in a tie for first place with Patrick Henry High School in the district standings. Franklin County dropped out of what had been a three-way tie for the district lead and fell to second place in the standings.

“We knew we needed this win big time after having lost to them (Franklin County) and having had that three-way tie for first place,” Saunders said.

“We didn’t try to stress that to the kids. They knew they wanted it. I think this game really showed them what we can do and what we’re about. I think that’s going to give us more momentum to keep moving forward and keep getting better.”

The Comets have a big week ahead, facing GW here Tuesday and then facing Patrick Henry in Roanoke on Friday. Wins in both games will vault the Comets into the district lead.

“Before we can even think about Friday, we’ve got to get through Tuesday first,” Saunders cautioned.

“We’re in a better position than we were before this game, but we’ve really got to focus in and play GW on Tuesday. If we play well, play defense well and our pitchers do well, we’ll be fine.”

Timely hitting and good defensive play, which included a key double play by Jessie Bagbey in the third inning and a big play in the sixth inning by third baseman Sydney Puryear who threw out a possible game-tying run at the plate, keyed the win.

Halifax County took the early lead at 1-0 with Jamilia Smith getting a base hit with one out and scoring later in the inning when Jessie Bagbey reached base on an error.

Franklin County answered with a run in the bottom of the third inning. Jessica Franklin led off with hit and scored when Alicia Eichenlaub hit into a fielder’s choice. Chelsey Booth followed with a hit to put runners on first base and third base. The Comets got out of the inning with no further damage when Bagbey fielded a ground ball, got an unassisted force-out at second base and threw to first baseman Meagan Day to complete a double play.

The Comets took the lead at 2-1 in the top of the fourth inning when Day smacked a double with two out and scored when Bagbey reached base on an error. A run in the top of the fifth inning that came with a leadoff single by Clark and a one-out double by Jameshia Smith gave the Comets a 3-1 lead.

Franklin County scratched up a run in the bottom of the sixth inning to make the score 3-2. The Eagles would have done more damage had it not been for a Puryear’s big defensive play in nailing the Eagles’ Lauren Wimmer at the plate to prevent a potential game-tying run from scoring.

Leading 3-2, the Comets rallied to score four runs in the top of the seventh inning to top off the 7-2 win. The Comets took advantage of two hits and two Franklin County errors in the big inning. Two of the Comets’ runs coming on a two-RBI double by Jameshia Smith.

Halifax County had nine hits in the game. Clark led the team with three hits. Jameshia Smith had two hits and three RBIs with Jamilia Smith, Day, Bagbey and VeVe Brandon all chipping in a hit each.

“We hit the ball well,” Saunders said, “but we got eight hits the last time we played them. The difference then was we got them at very sporadic times. This time, we got them in situations where we needed them and could advance base runners and score them.”