The posed photos with the trophy were done and the players from second-ranked South County’s state title softball team had dispersed to celebrate when a man in a camouflage hat approached senior catcher Haylea Geer.
He leaned in and told her: “You’ll remember that hit your whole life.”
Geer nodded and laughed and then, as the stranger walked away, admitted, “I have no idea who that is.” The stranger, who was most likely an outfielder’s grandfather, also most likely was right.
Geer’s solo home run in the top of the fourth proved to the Stallions they could get a hit off stingy Cosby ace Chelsea Whitcomb.
And an inning after Geer’s blast, South County pulled ahead on a three-run double by Riley Wilkinson to secure a 4-1 win at Robinson, the Virginia 6A championship and the first title in program history.
“I felt really good today, I felt really confident,” Geer said. “I knew my team was going to get ahead.”
Her home run signified to the Stallions (26-3) that as long as the defense remained solid, they could avoid going into extra innings again, as they had in the semifinal the night before.
On Sunday, ace Rebecca Martin struck out 10 and kept the Titans to one run and three hits. Back-to-back doubles put Cosby (24-1) on the board in the seventh.
“Rebecca has been absolutely amazing,” Geer said. “Her pitching has knocked every team off-balance.”
Confusion in the fifth allowed South County’s Courtney Ward to steal second also served to keep the team from becoming too comfortable. Everyone on the field had assumed the umpire called Whitcomb’s pitch as the fourth ball. So Ward, expecting the batter to walk, jogged to second. The umpire then clarified it had been a strike, and the Stallions’ dugout erupted in laughter over Ward’s nonchalant steal and puzzled expression.
Caitlin Maglich’s single then loaded the bases before Wilkinson’s hit down the left field line.
“That was one of the funniest things all season,” Geer said. “No one knew what was going on.”
South County outfielder Elyssa Dunn’s diving catch in the sixth was the play that “almost shut it down,” Martin said.
The Stallions’ roster is nearly identical from last year, which gave the 6A North region champions an edge, Geer said.
The week between the region championship and the state tournament was about mental preparation, she added. South County just had to be ready for the pressures of a state tournament — something none of the players had experienced.
“It’s exciting because a lot of people didn’t think softball could do it,” Geer said. “We fought as hard as we could to get that win, and it’s amazing for South County and for ourselves and the seniors.”