Kempsville 1, Osbourn 0
In recent days, including at graduation Saturday morning at Nissan Pavilion, Osbourn High School seniors no doubt heard talk about how a lifetime of opportunities await them as they enter the next chapter of their lives.
Some of those opportunities presented themselves in the afternoon in the Virginia AAA softball championship, and the top-ranked and previously unbeaten Eagles were unable to seize them in a 1-0 loss to Kempsville at Stoney Run Athletic Complex. The Chiefs scored the game's lone run in the bottom of the seventh.
Three times Osbourn had a runner on second with one or no outs, and at no time could the Eagles get the necessary bunt or clutch hit to either advance the runner or score her.
"Execution," said Osbourn Coach Renee Leake, whose teams have made four straight state tournaments but have not won the title. "If there's a word today, we just didn't execute."
Here were the three prime scoring opportunities for Osbourn, which had won seven 1-0 games this season:
* Sophomore Cindy Moore led off the third inning with a double, and the Eagles tried unsuccessfully to bunt her to third base. She eventually got there on a passed ball with one out, but the next two batters, the top two in the order, struck out.
* Sophomore Caitlin Davis doubled to left field with one out in the fifth, but withered there.
* Senior Alyssa Kemmerer doubled to deep center field -- just a few feet shy of a home run -- to lead off the seventh. The next batter struck out, and the second out came when Kemmerer was thrown out trying to steal third.
"We were just letting it all out on the line," Kemmerer said in reference to the steal attempt. "Leave it all out on the field. We were going to try to win somehow. We were trying to be aggressive on the bases."
Osbourn (27-1) and Kempsville (27-2) needed any edge they could find. The top three batters in the teams' lineups combined to go 0 for 18. Chiefs senior Mallory Mazur notched her 17th shutout of the season.
"Some of the kids I expected to step up big didn't step up big in this game," Leake said. "You can't rely on your underclassmen who haven't been in these big games before to get the job done. We needed a little bit more leadership, I think, than what we had today."
Kempsville, the sixth Eastern Region school to win the state title in the past eight years, pulled out the victory in the bottom of the seventh. Junior Becky Pfeil, who had three hits in the semifinal win over Gar-Field, doubled to lead off the inning. With one out, sophomore Ashley Elgin hit a comebacker to Cristi Ecks, who hung up Pfeil in a rundown. Pfeil was able to finagle her way safely back to second to put runners on first and second with one out.
The runners moved up on a wild pitch, and Pfeil scored on junior Bre Whitehurst's two-out single to deep left field. That was one of the few earned runs this season scored off Ecks, an All-Met senior.
"They earned the win, and I can't take any credit away from them," said Ecks, who struck out six. "I guess I couldn't hold on for one more strike.
"You need more than luck to win a championship game. You need to be able to get the hits when you need them, and we just didn't do that today."
Said Kemmerer: "If you're going to lose, this is the game to lose it in. To make it a championship, that's pretty good."