Softball: Kayla Brennan works around trouble to pitch Briar Woods into Virginia 5A final

June 14, 2014

Briar Woods pitcher Kayla Brennan spent nearly all of her Saturday afternoon in hot water, surrounded on one or two or three sides by Prince George runners she’d allowed to reach base.

Starting for the Falcons for the first time in five games, the junior was far from perfect, but when it mattered most, she delivered to help lead Briar Woods to a 5-3 victory in a Virginia 5A state semifinal at Lake Braddock. Brennan scattered 10 hits but maintained her poise, stranding 12 Royals runners in the complete-game victory.

Briar Woods (18-7) advanced to Sunday’s 5A title game against Great Bridge, which shut out Patrick Henry-Ashland, 2-0, in the earlier semifinal.

“I wasn’t on 100 percent this whole entire game,” Brennan said. “I think it was just the nerves of playing in the state semis for the first time with this group really got to me. My defense totally helped me out the whole entire time.”

Through the first four innings, Brennan’s escape routine worked to perfection. She danced around two-on threats in the second, third and fourth innings, frustrating a Prince George lineup that hit the ball hard all afternoon in Burke. After surrendering two runs in the fifth, Brennan left the bases loaded in the sixth and struck out the final Royals hitter with two runners in scoring position in the seventh.

Prince George’s inability to solve Brennan and the Falcons’ defense also marked the end of a 34-year career for Royals Coach Pat Waguespack, who announced that this season would be his last.

“Maybe they were [frustrated],” he said. “The game is, you keep on putting ’em on base and maybe you get it done and maybe you don’t. . . . We struggled with a little bit of her pitching, and I think she did a good job of pitching to us in those clutch situations.”

While Brennan fought her way through the bottom half of innings from the circle, her teammates struggled early in the batter’s box. The Falcons didn’t get on the board until the fifth inning when Madison Goodman produced an RBI single. But Briar Woods’ bats came alive in the sixth inning as the Falcons plated three runs on four consecutive base hits, including a triple down the right field line from sophomore catcher Alexa Binckes.

“I saw up and out and I was going to drive it,” said Binckes, who had two extra-base hits. “Nothing’s going to get past me, and I’m going to hit like I do.”

“I can’t even believe it. We worked all season for this, and just getting there, to that moment, it doesn’t feel like anything else,” Brennan said. “Except probably winning a state championship.”

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