Stonewall Jackson 1, Madison 0
-- Immediately following the Virginia AAA softball final the previous two years, Stonewall Jackson's Courtney Bures had trouble rehashing the games because she was so disappointed in the losing outcomes.
After the top-ranked Raiders' 1-0 win over No. 7 Madison on Saturday night in the state final at Stoney Run Athletic Complex, she had the same problem -- with a welcome twist.
"I remember last year I had a hard time talking to [reporters], and now my jaw hurts because I can't stop smiling," said Bures, now a senior who threw a four-hitter and scored the game's lone run in the fourth inning.
It marked the school's first state team title in any sport. The game also was just the second all-Northern Virginia state final in the 27-year history of the tournament. No Northern Virginia team had claimed the crown since Centreville in 1995.
The Raiders' win spoiled a superb effort by Madison junior right-hander Lauren Frankiewicz, who had a hand in 20 of the 21 outs her team recorded, including 17 strikeouts. She aggravated an ankle injury while pitching in the fifth inning and took a shot off Bures' bat in the right hip in the sixth, yet soldiered on each time.
As it turned out, the most painful occurrence was the fielding error on a sharply hit, yet routine, ground ball that enabled Bures to reach base to lead off the fourth. Bures, the All-Met player of the year and a Mississippi State signee, swiped both second and third before any outs were recorded and instinctively broke for home when a pitch kicked a short distance beyond the catcher with one out.
"Courtney's the X factor," Stonewall Jackson Coach Jason Koch said. "She's always two steps ahead of every single player out here all year long. . . . Almost every player I go through the whole [situational] spiel when they're on third base -- this is what you're going to do, this is what you're going to do. When Courtney's on third base, I just let her play. Her first instincts are almost 100 percent always right."
The way Frankiewicz was dominating -- Stonewall Jackson (27-2) did not manage a hit until the sixth and Bures even struck out for the first time all season -- that opportunity in the fourth turned out to be the Raiders' best chance to score.
"I don't really think I could have done anything else," Frankiewicz said. "They played a great game, but in the end, I really think that we beat ourselves in that one inning. . . . That's the hard part -- we made one mistake and it cost us the game. Teams are going to make errors, but we have to back up the errors with hits and runs."
But Bures yielded just four hits -- three to Megan Wolfrey -- and Stonewall Jackson finally won a state final; the Raiders had lost in the championship game in 1996, 2002 and 2003.
"It means a lot that these seniors have been here three times," Koch said. "We have a history . . . now with these seniors with our squad that's unbelievable. The past two years we've been here we've kind of celebrated getting here. This year it definitely was a different focus. They're tired of getting here. Let's win the thing."