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VIDEO: Girls edge Battlefield 1-0; Advance to semifinals

Three key plays in the bottom of the fourth inning gave Halifax County High School all of the offense it needed to squeeze out a 1-0 win over Battlefield High School Monday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Northwest Region Softball Tournament at Halifax County High School.

Monday’s win propelled the Comets into Wednesday’s Northwest Region Tournament semifinal round where they will face Osbourn High School in Manassas. Game time at Osbourn High School will be 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Osbourn High School edged Albemarle High School 2-1 in 11 innings Monday afternoon to set up Wednesday’s contest against the Comets.

A win over Osbourn High School on Wednesday will put the Comets into the Group AAA state tournament. The Comets’ most recent state tournament appearance came in 2011.

The Comets started their half of the fourth inning with a hit from Tayler Mosley. Miyana Ross then barely got a piece of an outside curve ball from Battlefield High School pitcher Teresa Wagner and sent a slow rolling ball to the infield.

Ross was put out by a step, but while the action was concentrated on Ross on the play at first base, Mosley scampered all the way to third base to get herself into scoring position with one out.

“It was a curveball, and I tried to take it to the right side and it wasn’t a good hit,” Ross said.

“I didn’t want that hit, but it was good because it moved Tayler into scoring position.”

Megan Puckett then popped a single along the first base line, with the ball sailing just over the head of Battlefield High School first baseman Alexis Champion, to score Mosley for the Comets’ lone run of the game.

“It was an outside pitch,” Puckett explained, “so I just threw my hands out and I got lucky it stayed in fair territory. She (Wagner) had been throwing that curve ball outside all game, so I was ready for it.”

Battlefield High School (13-9 overall) managed to get runners on base in both the fifth inning and sixth inning but was unable to score. Comets pitcher Taylor Barnes then struck out the Bobcats in order in the top of the seventh inning to end the game and run her afternoon strikeout total to eight for the contest.

Monday’s win was a big one for the Western Valley District Champion Comets. The Comets had faced Battlefield in the Northwest Region Tournament in 2007, 2009 and in 2011 and had beaten the Bobcats only once in those three meetings.

“We’ve played Battlefield before and they always have a solid program,” noted Comets Head Coach Melanie Saunders.

“We didn’t expect anything different today. I told the girls coming in it would be nice to be able to even the score, and we did it.

“For this team to get to this point and beat a quality team like Battlefield says a lot for these kids,” added Saunders.

“They’ve had to work hard in every practice and every game to get here. It’s nice to see that their hard work has paid off to get them to this point.”

Battlefield High School managed to get runners on the sacks in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth innings, but the Comets’ defense and Barnes’ pitching held the Bobcats at bay.

The Bobcats took advantage of a hit and a Comets error in the top of the fourth inning to get runners on first base and second base with one out but failed to capitalize on the opportunity.

Halifax County High School managed to get runners on second base and third base in the bottom of the sixth inning, but couldn’t score.

Saunders said she knew the game would come down to a few key plays.

“It was going to be a key defensive play or a key hit with runners in scoring position, and that’s what happened,” Saunders pointed out.

“Had Tayler been on second base and Puckett had gotten that hit, all we would have done was moved her (Mosley) to third (base). We hit behind the runner and were able to get that run in.”

Battlefield High School Joe Schelzo said he was pleased with the effort of his team, a young team that has only two seniors on its roster.

“We were missing our number one hitter (Morgan Rinehart) because she had to go visit her mother,” Schelzo noted.

“We still had quite a few scoring chances even with her bat missing. It was a good credit to our players to make this trip and stay focused. My concern was that after the long trip here we might not mentally show up and it could get ugly very fast.

“The fact that we played well the first couple of innings and held the score to 0-0 was big. Once that happened, it was going to be a matter of one play here or one play there that would make the difference in the game.”

The mound battle between Barnes and Wagner was dead even. Barnes struck out eight batters and yielded one walk and three hits. Wagner fanned seven Comets batters and allowed one walk and three hits.

Mosley, Ross and Puckett each had one hot for the Comets. Champion, Ruthie Martin and Wagner had a hit each for the Bobcats.