- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
The Halifax County High School varsity softball team is entering the first round of the Northwest Region Tournament today on a high note, with the Comets having completed a sweep of the regular season and tournament titles in the Western Valley District. Halifax County, the one seed in the Western Valley District, takes on Cedar Run District two seed Loudoun Valley today at 2 p.m. at Comets’ Softball Field.
Loudoun Valley (15-6), last year’s State AAA runner-up is also entering the tourney on a high note, riding an eight-game winning streak into the region tournament, including wins over Cedar Run District regular season champion Battlefield (18-3) in the district tournament championship game last week.
Halifax County and coach Melanie Saunders have bad memories from the last time the teams met in 2008, with the Comets getting only five hits in a 11-0 loss to the Vikings at home in the second round of the regional tournament.
Even with the regional seedings already decided heading into the district tournament, Saunders wanted her team to focus and treat each game like one it had to win in order to advance, and the Comets responded with two wins, including the 3-2 eight-inning thriller Thursday over Franklin County for the tourney title.
“We wanted to take positive momentum into Monday even though it really didn’t matter who won or lost,” explained Saunders, adding it felt great to be 21-1 on the season.
She recalled what happened against Loudoun Valley two years ago after the Comets had defeated Stafford High School in the first round of the regionals.
“I remember what happened a couple of years ago. They’re (Loudoun Valley) tough, and they just beat Battlefield (2010 Cedar Run District Tournament),” said Saunders.
“But, you know this team we have this year has been exceptional all year long.
“They’ve played together and when you play together great things happen, and that’s why we’ve come out on top so far.”
The Comets have put together a pair of winning streaks themselves this season, winning their first 11 games before a loss to Franklin County on April 20.
Halifax County has not lost since then, winning seven games in a row to wrap up first-place in the regular season standings before adding two more wins in the tournament.
For that momentum to carry over into a win today, the Comets must play with an intensity and focus from the first pitch to the final out, and Comets senior Johanna Spencer sounded a note of confidence as her team prepared to face Loudoun Valley.
The whole year we’ve been practicing togetherness and playing together as a team,” she noted.
“When one of us was down the entire team was there to pick us up.”
That has been the difference this season, and it was a key to the Comets’ comeback against Franklin County in the district tournament championship game, added Spencer.
“If we hadn’t been practicing togetherness the whole year we would not have come back and won this game,” she said.
“We’ve never had a team like this and I think we’re ready for anything they (Loudoun Valley) throws our way.
“As long as we play together and stay the way we are, we’ll be fine.”