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Comet gilrs come up short in regional title game

Comets’ softball senior catcher Jill Trickey managed a smile and remained upbeat Friday, even after her team’s first loss of the season, a 3-0 setback at Battlefield High School in the Northwest Region softball tournament championship game. “We never really give up and we keep fighting, we just need to hit a little more,” said Trickey.

“We need to hit them where they aren’t, because we definitely hit them to where they were today.”

Battlefield got five of its seven hits in the fifth inning to break up a pitcher’s duel between the Comets’ Sam Gibson and the Bobcats’ Miranda Kemp, with Bailey Liddle’s two-run hit making it 2-0.

Liddle scored on Tyler Welch’s sacrifice fly for what proved to be the final run of the game.

Halifax County (23-1) managed three hits off Kemp, two-out singles from Jamilia Smith in the second inning and VeVe Brandon in the third inning, and a one-out single by Meg Bane in the seventh inning, but the Comets could never get the bats going against Kemp.

“We were on her, but we hit it to people and I think they wanted it so much and sometimes they tried too hard,” summarized Comets’ coach Melanie Saunders.

“Their pitcher worked us really good with that rise ball, and she realized we were on that, so she started throwing the off-speed pitches.

“You expect that at this time of the year, and we hadn’t seen that early on.”

Battlefield coach Joe Schelzo said his team made adjustments at the plate as the game wore on, and he pointed to Liddle’s at-bat as a turning point in the contest.

“It takes that one key hit,” commented Schelzo.  “We’d just played yesterday and it was a completely different pitcher.  It took awhile to adjust, and Bailey’s at-bat was huge.

“She was down 0-2, battled back and got a hit.”

Although the Bobcats didn’t hit the ball very hard off Gibson, they found the gaps, according to Saunders.

“They were getting the bat out there and meeting the ball,” said Saunders.

“With runners on, those hits can hurt as bad as anything else, and that one inning they got the runners on and the hits fell through.

“Sam (one strikeout, no walks) still did a good job.  They weren’t hitting her all over the field, it wasn’t that, and had we gotten those hits with runners on, it would have been the same thing on our side.

“We got runners on with two outs, and I told the girls early in the game they had to get runners on with less than two outs and manufacture some runs,” added Saunders, who noted her team must now look ahead to Tuesday and their state quarterfinal game at Lee Davis High School.

“We knew we still had Tuesday even though we didn’t come out on top in this one.”