Lady Raiders repeat, too
Published 10:48 am Wednesday, May 25, 2016
For the fourth time in as many seasons, Southampton Academy and Kenston Forest matched wits with one another with the Virginia Independent School Athletic Association state championship on the line.
But while the Kavaliers won the first two title bouts, it was the Lady Raiders who captured the hardware for the second-consecutive year with a 6-2 win on Friday night.
Head coach Scott Speight admitted he was unsure if his team could repeat just three weeks ago, as the Lady Raiders had dropped three of their last seven games heading into the Virginia Commonwealth Conference Tournament. But a 4-2 come-from-behind, seventh inning win over Central Virginia Disciples Homeschool turned the season for the program.
“We found a slump in the middle of the season, but we put three runs on the board in the top of the seventh to win that game,” Speight said. “It kind of turned us around to where we started hitting well again.”
The Lady Raiders rattled off five-straight wins thereafter.
The streak was capped by a five-run first frame in Friday night’s championship game, an inning in which Southampton Academy took a 1-0 lead just two batters into the game. Shortstop Ashten Hinkle’s triple gave the Lady Raiders the lead, and a bases-loaded single to center cleared the bags. A sacrifice fly by Avery Pope extended the difference to five to give Southampton Academy pitcher Megan Vincent all the runs she would need.
“Megan just stepped into the circle and performed like a seasoned veteran,” Speight said of the junior, who replaced all-state pitcher Brooke Mizelle this season. “She had no problems taking over the reins. Tonight and in the Virginia Commonwealth Conference championship [a 5-1 win over Kenston Forest], she was lights out.”
Vincent struck out five batters and allowed only two earned runs, but more importantly held VCC Most Valuable Player and Division III Player of the Year, Brooke Mason, in check.
Mason was only 1-17 in four games against Vincent, but batted .490 with 17 RBIs in 26 additional games this season.
If Friday night’s youthful onslaught was any indication, the Lady Raiders may be talking about a three-peat this time next year.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work,” Speight said as he watched his player’s surprise Hinkle — Southampton Academy’s only senior — with a Gatorade bath, “but I definitely think we can make it back [to the championship game] again.”