- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Doug Ford
Monday’s loss to Loudoun Valley in the Northwest Regional Tournament only momentarily dampened a season full of success for the Comets varsity softball team.
The Comets soared to a 21-2 record, including a 7-1 record in the Western Valley District. It collected an outright Western Valley District regular season championship and a district tournament title in the process, the first time since 2001 that the Comets have accomplished that feat.
“Togetherness” was a theme echoed many times by the Comets along the way, especially from seniors Stephanie Clark, Johanna Spencer, Megan Day and Jessie Bagbey.
“It’s just been an awesome thing to watch these seniors mature, not just as ball players, but as individuals,” said Comets coach Melanie Saunders.
“Steph on the mound, we’re going to miss that for sure, that kid has been playing with us since she was a freshman.
“She was in center field when we went to the state (2007), and has gotten better.
“Jo behind the plate, that kid has battled since she was little to prove to herself and other people what she can do.
“Jessie is probably one of the most responsible and smartest kids with a heart of gold. “She’s always the one we look to for leadership and to keep us upbeat, and cheer us on no matter what the score is.
“I hugged [Megan] today and told her it was so great to see her mature as a ball player and as a person,” continued Saunders.
“She’s really done a great job for us at first base, and she’s taken that role as one of the seniors to step up and take a leadership role on this team.”
“Those four have probably been the strongest seniors I’ve had,” emphasized Saunders.
“This was a year where all the seniors were starters and you rarely have that.
“We had no animosity going on in the dugout during practices or games, and in all the years I’ve coached we’ve always had that.
“The captains weren’t going to have that and didn’t allow that.”
The Comets finished 21-2 despite facing what Saunders termed as one of the most difficult schedules in her 16 years of coaching.
Halifax County collected key early season wins at Albemarle (double header), Jefferson Forest, Tunstall and Person High in a stretch which saw the team play its first seven games of the season on the road.
The Comets later beat tough Northern Virginia teams Mountain View and Battlefield, the win at Battlefield avenging a loss in the second round of the regionals last year.
Halifax County suffered a momentary setback when it lost its district opener at home against Franklin County but won its final games to win the district title outright.
Two more wins in the tournament, the final one a comeback win over Franklin County, gave the Comets a sweep of the regular season and tournament titles.
Future Bright For Comets Softball
The future is bright for Comets softball despite the loss of Clark, Spencer, Bagbey and Day, Saunders indicated.
A number of varsity players are expected to return next season, and the varsity continues to benefit from a strong jayvee team which recently completed another unbeaten season.
“We lose four seniors and four starters and on a field of nine, four seniors like that will be hard to replace,” she explained.
“But, we have five other kids who were out here on the field with us and five on the bench who we worked in during the season,” she added.
“They didn’t get a lot of time during this regional game (Loudoun Valley), but they worked a lot of innings this year and know what to expect from the coaches.
“We’ll need somebody to step up next year and fill the shoes of the departing seniors.”