Briar Woods softball pushes Great Bridge to extra innings but falls in Virginia 5A final

All season Briar Woods has lived by the motto R.I.O.T.—“run instead of talk.” It’s about “walking the [walk] and letting our playing do the talking,” said pitcher Kayla Brennan moments after she handed off the state runner-up trophy to a teammate.

Great Bridge will bring home the Virginia 5A softball state championship plaque after beating Briar Woods, 3-1, on Sunday at Robinson, but the Falcons kept with their 2014 theme by taking the Wildcats to eight innings.

“We didn’t give up till the end, and we tried to play tough all through,” Brennan said.

The Falcons (18-8) fell behind early on an RBI single by Wildcats pitcher Sydney Harless in the top of the first inning. Jordan Counts pulled the 5A North region runners-up level with a double to right field that scored Casey Forbes in the bottom of the fourth. Harless struck out 11, including two batters at the end of the fourth with runners on second and third.

Briar Woods left runners on second at the end of both the sixth and seventh innings, and Harless cashed in for Great Bridge (26-1) with an RBI double in the eighth that plated the go-ahead run. She later came around to score to provide the final margin.

“Coming in, we knew they would be a good team. It came down to who wanted it more,” Counts said. “We fought hard, but our hits didn’t fall and theirs did.”

The Falcons gathered by third base after the game and remained composed until Coach Chris Starke brought them into a huddle. He started recapping a season that started with the team’s first practice in February, and as he talked, Counts had flashbacks of memories from this year and the three before. She is one of five seniors who were part of Briar Woods’s 2011 title team, and they brought invaluable experience and advice to teammates that had never played in a state tournament.

“The way that we click — I’ve never seen a team click as much as we did, and I think deep down that’s why we got as far as we did,” Counts said.

Starke told the players throughout the season that “no team is bigger than the next,” and “this was just one of those games,” Brennan said.

Brennan, a junior, will be back next season along with Danielle Brendes and pitcher Madison Goodman. Each of the Falcons presented a quote for the week-long buildup to the state tournament, and Brennan’s was “Think practice is hard, try losing.”

“I want to be back at Robinson next year, holding the state trophy,” she said.

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