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Comets softball team beats Eagles in district showdown

Comets’ varsity softball hurler Samantha Gibson admitted to coach Melanie Saunders she may have tired the last two innings of the game at Franklin County last month, where the Eagles recorded six of their nine hits in closing a 7-0 deficit to 7-5.

The junior right-hander was determined not to let that happen again in the rematch Friday at home, and Gibson was true to her word with three strikeouts and a complete-game five-hitter in a 6-0 win over the Eagles.

Gibson’s teammates backed her effort with 10 hits, including Jameshia Smith’s two-run home run in the second, the sixth different Comet to homer this season.

Smith finished with three hits and two RBI, Meg Bane with two hits and an RBI and Jill Trickey with a double and single for the Comets.

VeVe Brandon had a base hit and RBI sacrifice fly, Brittany Long an RBI single and Gibson a base hit for Halifax County, which improved to 4-0 in the Western Valley District and 15-0 overall.

“[Gibson] came over here and threw buckets and buckets of balls,” recalled Saunders.

“She said, ‘I don’t ever want to tire out again.’  They hit her some, but our defense was solid behind her today, and we jumped on them pretty quick with two runs in the first inning.”

Brandon singled, stole second and scored on a hard line drive to right field by Sydney Puryear (RBI), a ball that got by the Eagles’ fielder for an error.

Puryear scored on Bane’s RBI single to make it 2-0 and the Comets added two more runs in the second inning on a Trickey double and Smith’s two-run homer.

A 6-2-3 double play helped the Comets escape a jam in the third, when a single, walk and single loaded the bases for Franklin County with no outs.

Smith fielded a ground ball and fired to Trickey at home for the force, and Trickey threw to first for a double play before a groundout got the Comets out of the inning.

Trickey and Smith singled in the fourth ahead of Brandon’s RBI sacrifice fly, and Trickey caught an Eagles’ base runner off first base for another key out in the fifth to help squelch another possible rally for the Eagles.

Bane singled and later scored on Long’s RBI single in the fifth inning for the final run of the game.

“The biggest thing we’ve been talking to the kids about is being focused from beginning to end, and today is the first game we did that, staying up and staying focused first pitch to last pitch,” said Saunders.

“We’ve played well before, but we’ve lost focus here and there, and I told them to remember how this felt, and how we have to keep going, keep improving and keeping that focus and intensity.

“I told them to be aggressive at the plate, don’t think but relax and hit the ball, and I think we did that.

“Samantha did a good job today, moving her pitches around and keeping them off balance.

“She looked strong from beginning to end, and even with base runners on the defense was behind her.”

Franklin County coach Bryan Forbes knew his team lost a great opportunity after not scoring with the bases loaded in the second inning.

“We know sports is all about momentum, and when you lose that momentum it’s hard to gain it back,” he said.

“When you don’t score and they score it’s hard to pick it back up.

“Our kids are used to playing from behind, but we never got them on their heels.

“Other than that we played okay, we didn’t do all the things right, but we’re headed in the right direction.”

“This puts us in a bad situation, probably having to come through the tournament to get to the regional,” added Forbes.

“We may have to go the other way, but I’ve seen both Franklin County and Halifax County win the tournament and go just as far as the district winner has.”