The hallmark of Loudoun Valley's 2005 season has been its depth, and it was on display once again yesterday afternoon in the Virginia AA softball quarterfinals. The third-ranked Vikings got hits from seven players, including a solo home run by junior right fielder Tanya Gittings -- the first of her career -- as they defeated visiting Grafton, 5-0.
Gittings's home run led off the third inning, and senior left fielder Amy Edmondson hit another three-run home run later that same inning that seemed to clear the exact same spot over the left field fence.
"I've never seen a high school team where every kid can hit the ball like that," said Grafton Coach Dena Montini, whose team finished its season at 20-5. "Against most teams, you maybe have to worry about the first six batters, maybe. But the bottom of their lineup hit the ball even better than the top. And that's awfully tough to face."
Gittings, for example, hits eighth for Loudoun Valley (25-1) but bats .411. The Vikings have five starters who are batting .500 or better, led by senior All-Met second baseman Jessica Everhart at .568.
Loudoun Valley will play Region I champion Poquoson, which advanced by eliminating defending state champion Turner Ashby, 5-4, in an 11 a.m. semifinal Friday at Radford University.
Osbourn Hangs On
With Osbourn senior All-Met pitcher Cristi Ecks wearing an elbow brace for the first time and the Eagles' defense cracking with three errors in the seventh inning, it looked as if the unbeaten ride might end for the No. 1 Eagles. But Osbourn managed to cling to a 3-2 home win over Hanover in a Virginia AAA softball quarterfinal.
That feeling might have been heightened when yet another ball rolled toward sophomore shortstop Dana Woodsmall, who had committed two errors in the seventh to help the Hawks peck into a 3-0 lead. This time, however, Woodsmall made the play and the Eagles (26-0) advanced with a sigh and a whoop to the state semifinals at 5 p.m. on Friday in Newport News, where they will face Kellam, which beat Westfield, 3-0.
Hanover (19-7) ended Mills Godwin's unbeaten season in the first round of the Central Region tournament, and the Hawks had the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the seventh against Osbourn. They had the bases loaded when the game ended, too.
"My stomach was kind of going all over the place," said Ecks, who struck out nine and walked one. "I knew we'd come through somehow, and it wasn't supposed to end [with us losing]."
Hanover's seventh-inning rally snapped a 70-inning scoreless streak for Osbourn's opponents.
Senior All-Met Brittany Lansdowne had two of the Eagles' four hits and scored two of the runs. Junior Sarah Schultz had an RBI triple, and senior reserve Julianne Sudduth laid down a suicide squeeze bunt in the sixth that provided what turned out to be the winning run.
Madison Is Shut Down
Madison entered the Virginia AAA tournament on an offensive tear, but the Warhawks' bats suddenly were silenced in a 2-0 loss to visiting Kempsville.
The three-time defending Northern Region champion Warhawks (24-5) were held to three hits in the quarterfinal. The Madison drought at the plate didn't seem to matter, however, until Kempsville (25-2) broke through in the seventh inning.
Madison senior pitcher Lauren Frankiewicz held the Chiefs to one hit in the first six innings. In the seventh, the Chiefs put runners on first and second with two hits. Shortstop Brooke Slinger followed with a two-run double to center.
"Honestly, I think we had a brain freeze in the inning," said Frankiewicz, who finished with a four-hitter and seven strikeouts. "We felt like she [Slinger] was going to lay down a bunt. But she came through when her team needed a hit, and we weren't able to."
Madison entered the game having outscored its seven postseason opponents, 33-2. The loss was particularly disappointing for Coach Tammi Talley, who had told her players she planned to resign at the end of the season.
Staff writer Judith Evans contributed to this report.