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Comets softball team wins district championship

The Halifax County High School softball team is the Western Valley District regular-season champion.

Staging a workman-like performance, the Comets beat Franklin County High School 3-0 on Tuesday night at Averett University in Danville in a playoff game to determine the district championship.

With the win, the Comets earned the district's top seed for the Northwest Region Tournament and a home game in the regional tournament quarterfinals.

The Comets will be in action again Wednesday afternoon, playing a Western Valley District Tournament semi-final game at Halifax County High School. They will face the winner of a play-in game between GW and William Fleming High School that will be played at Halifax County High School Wednesday at 4 p.m.

Halifax County High School will play its tournament semi-final game at 5:30 p.m.

"We were just excited," Comets senior second baseman Meg Bane said of the team's demeanor heading into Tuesday's district championship game against Franklin County High School.

"We were ready to come back and show Franklin County we could do this. It's awesome. This is exactly where we planned to be from the beginning of the season. We finally came together and we're here. Everybody was focused mentally and we finally came through."

Bane slugged a two-RBI triple in the top of the fourth inning, scoring teammates Miyanna Ross and Megan Puckett, to give the Comets a 2-0 lead.

"She (Franklin County High School pitcher Hali Saul) threw me in and then threw a change up that I knew was going to be outside," Bane said of the pitch she laced for the run-scoring hit.

"I just took it that way."

Cecilie Elliott followed with a base hit to plate Bane and produce the final run of the game.

Comets Head Coach Melanie Saunders said the game was a big one for her team.

"After losing to them (Franklin County High School) 1-0 at home it let the steam out of us a little bit," Saunders explained.

"We've been trying to get our momentum back up. Every game we've been picking up little by little to get back here."

In winning the championship, the Comets will be noted as the last Western Valley District champion. The Western Valley District will no longer exist after this season, with the Comets, Franklin County High School and GW all joining the Piedmont District this coming fall as part of the new Virginia High School League re-alignment.

"It feels great to be the last Western Valley District champion," Saunders said.

"I told the girls that we very rarely want it as coaches because we coach for the girls. To be honest, we're a little selfish today because we wanted this championship for the Comets' softball program. We've been competitive and been near the top for awhile, and we wanted to go out on top in this district and Franklin County was the team that could have knocked us out. Our girls stepped up and came up here and did what we needed to do."

Along with the timely hitting, the Comets got a solid defensive effort that included a pair of double plays, one in the top of the first inning and another in the top of the second inning, both of which started with Franklin County High School getting a lead-off hit.

Comets pitcher Taylor Barnes had a good day as well, striking out 10 Franklin County High School batters. She allowed five scattered hits but did not walk any batters.

"I was feeling really confident today," Barnes said.

"I was ready to beat them and I was "on." I rely on my defense a lot and they played great behind me."

The Comets had four hits in the game, with Bane, Elliott, Cori Campbell and Ashley Watts each getting one hit.

Logan Barbour led Franklin County High School with two hits. Sierra Naff, Taylor Greenway and Becky France each had one hit. Unfortunately for the Eagles, the hits didn't come at the right time.

"I applaud our girls' effort," said Franklin County High School Head Coach Bryan Forbes.

"You can't say enough about the effort of both teams. There were plays made today that you don't see a lot of high school ladies make. We just didn't get that timely hit. They (Halifax County High School) did and they deserve the championship. They are a class act, and hopefully we will get another chance at them Friday in the district tournament championship game."