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Comets Clip Eagles For Western Valley District Tournament Title

Jamilia Smith’s base hit in the bottom of the eighth inning scored Johanna Spencer with the run the Halifax County High School varsity softball team needed to clip Franklin County 3-2 Thursday for the Western Valley District Tournament title. Halifax County, which swept both the district regular season and tournament titles in the same year for the first time since 2001, hosts Loudoun Valley today at 2 p.m. in the first round of the Northwest Region Tournament.

Franklin County scored twice in the second inning off a triple by Lauren Wimmer sandwiched between a pair of Comets’ miscues and led by that same margin until the sixth, when a walk to VeVe Brandon and RBI double by Jameshia Smith cut the Halifax deficit to one run.

Halifax County tied the score in the bottom of the seventh when leadoff batter Megan Day stroked a base hit.

Jessie Bagbey hit a bunt single to put runners at first and second, and Jill Trickey reached on a fielder’s choice before Stephanie Clark plated Day with an RBI single.

The Comets got out of a two-on, two-out situation in the top of the eighth, and they won the game in the bottom of the inning, starting when leadoff batter Spencer drew a walk.

Sydney Puryear laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Spencer to second and a wild pitch moved her to third, bringing Jamilia Smith to the plate.

Smith, who had struck out in two of her three earlier plate appearances against Eagles’ starter Chelsey Booth, fouled off several pitches from reliever Brooke Williams before sending a single over second base to score Spencer and win the game.

“I wasn’t doing too good earlier, but I believed in myself at the end,” said Smith after the game.  “I choked up (on the bat) a little bit and moved up in the batters box.

“I believed in myself more than I had in my earlier at-bats,” added Smith, who made a sterling catch of a hard-hit fly ball in left field during the game.

The Comets finished with eight hits for the game, including Jameshia Smith’s RBI double, Jamilia Smith’s RBI single and Clark’s RBI single.

Jameshia Smith, Brandon, Spencer, Day and Bagbey added hits in support of a complete-game one hitter by Clark, who fanned 12 batters and walked one in eight innings.

“Our team came through at the end and that’s what I tell my kids from the very beginning, having heart and being together,” said Comets coach Melanie Saunders.

“It just so happened Jamilia struck out two times before that bloop hit, and that was enough to score that run.

“We were even thinking of pinch-hitting for her, but she made that awesome catch in the field.

“It’s not what you do but what the team does for each other, and you never give up.”

Games like this help both teams prepare for the regionals, despite the seedings having already been determined prior to Thursday’s game, according to Franklin County coach Bryan Forbes.

“These games only help us,” said Forbes. “One parent questioned why we play this game, but it gets us ready for the regionals.

“I told my girls we didn’t lose this game, Halifax won this game,” Forbes continued.  There’s a difference when you play this hard and lose because you didn’t make a play.

“They won it, we didn’t lose it.  We scored in one inning and couldn’t put it together the rest of them.

“This will make us better.  I told my girls, look, we’ve beaten Halifax once and we’re going to a place where Halifax has won (Battlefield).

“I hope they buy into the fact that Halifax is a great team and we hung right in there with them.”

“Coming into the seventh inning down by one run, we just don’t give up, and that’s what this team’s been about all year long,” noted Saunders.

“We were flat all game until the very end and it seemed we just couldn’t get our wheels under us.  No matter what I said and no matter what the seniors said, we just couldn’t get our momentum going.

“But, you could see a little bit of a different look in their eyes the last inning, and when Jo got on and somebody (Puryear) moved her over, I knew someone would come through for us.

“You could see it in their eyes and it was all about having heart.”