Instead of laying back and concentrating on the batter, the Bulldogs sensed weakness and pounced.
“Kind of end with a bang, you know?” Tatara said while lugging the championship trophy, a bucket, an ice pack and two gear bags to the parking lot. “That’s an especially good way to win a championship.”
Said Stone Bridge Coach Billy Rice: “Our mantra the whole year is that we never take a pitch off. If somebody else does, we’re going to do our best to take advantage of it. We live by it. I think that’s why we’re here, honestly. Sometimes I think some of these young ladies aren’t pushed enough, so we just open the door and challenge them each day in practice.”
Stone Bridge will host Northwest Region runner-up Osbourn in a state quarterfinal Tuesday. Madison will play at the Northwest champion, Orange, which beat the Eagles (18-6), 3-2.
The Bulldogs took advantage of just about every opportunity in becoming the region’s first repeat region softball champion since Madison won three in a row from 2003 to 2005.
They went up 1-0 in the first when senior Nicole Prince singled, stole second, took third on a sacrifice and scored on a throwing error. In the fourth, senior center fielder Sydney Broderick reached on an error to open the inning, was bunted to second, took third on a groundout and stole home.
Stone Bridge tacked on two more runs in the fifth, aided by a hit batter, two wild pitches, an error and an RBI double from senior left fielder Courtney Gibson.
“They make you pay for every mistake you make,” Madison Coach John Schneeberger Jr. said. “We made a few here today, and you pay for it, immediately.”
Both Stone Bridge senior Kelly McDaniel and Madison senior Kelsey Ross threw three-hitters. Madison went without a base runner until the fourth, when junior shortstop Kat Olson reached on an error, and without a hit until the sixth, when freshman Ally Fogel singled with one out and sophomore Jackie Yahner did likewise one out later.
The Warhawks’ only other hit came in the seventh, and that runner got picked off to end the game and start the Bulldogs’ second consecutive region title celebration.
“I think it was a really big accomplishment because it’s really hard to stay on top,” said Prince, who wore the region championship banner like a cape and flapped around after the awards presentation.
“I think that’s where they set their goals,” Rice said. “They didn’t say it outright. You could tell by the way they’re playing the way they wanted it.”
Madison and Stone Bridge, Liberty District mates, have combined to win seven of the past 11 region championships.
“I think it was good that at first we weren’t hitting the ball that hard but we were still able to manufacture those runs and get them when we needed them,” McDaniel said.
●●WOLVERINES PREVAIL: Woodgrove (24-2) defended its Virginia AA Region II title with a 6-0 victory over host Powhatan. By winning the region, the Wolverines will host Tabb on Tuesday in the state quarterfinals.
Coach Joe Spicer rested ace Jazmyn Rohrer, and Corrinne Vennitti pitched a one-hitter. Catcher Rachel Harris went 2 for 4 with three RBI.
“It’s nice to have a championship,” Spicer said. “We don’t have to ride on that bus.”