Ashburn (June 4, 2013) – The Stone Bridge High School softball team has seldom had to play from behind this season, but on Tuesday night in the Virginia AAA state quarterfinals the Bulldogs found themselves behind Osbourn, 3-0, and they would have to dig their way out of to keep their season alive. Senior Kelly McDaniel rose to the occasion, hitting the go ahead 2-run home run in the fifth inning while earning the win in the pitching circle as Stone Bridge took down Osbourn, 6-3.
“[Coming from behind is] something we haven’t gone through a lot this year,” Stone Bridge coach BilIy Rice said. “I think we were out of sync a little bit today. I don’t know if it was the timing during warm-ups. I don’t know if Kelly was where she needed to be at that point in time. But that girl gave it a good run.”
McDaniel who gave up three runs, only one earned, in the first two innings, settled down cruising through the fifth, before she flat out dominated the Eagles in the sixth and seventh picking up her three strikeouts in her last two frames.
“In the first couple innings, I wasn’t as focused as I could be,” McDaniel said. “The rest of the innings I just focused a little more.”
Rice did not defend McDaniel’s first two innings saying that she lacked focus, but instead offered that she always improves with time.
“She gets better as the game goes on,” Rice said. “I always wonder if she just feels more comfortable after seeing the batters one or two times, kind of like hitters do when they want to see a pitcher: it works in reverse for her.”
Like most, McDaniel improves offensively after seeing a pitcher a few times. After grounding out in her first two at-bats, she smacked a 2-run homer to center giving her team the lead and enough cushion for herself to finish the game on top.
“That at-bat I knew we needed a run and I hit it hard,” McDaniel said. “I’m just really happy I could do that for my team.”
In the sixth, another Bulldog added some spark to the order with a home run of her own. Freshman designated player Olivia Sappington rounded third with a huge smile on her face after hitting a no-doubt-about-it-two-run-blast down the right field line adding insurance to Stone Bridge’s late lead.
“She has a sweet swing,” Rice said. “She had a good start of the season and she’s getting it going again.”
Rice hopes there is no slowing down for Sappington or the rest of his team as they take on Cosby High School on Friday, June 6 at 4 p.m. in Chantilly at Westfield High School in the state semifinal.
“They’re the defending state champions,” Rice said. “They have been there. We haven’t. We’re the underdog now. They have been sitting on top most of the season. We haven’t really seen the underdog pressure so we’re going to see what we got now.”
In May, Stone Bridge outscored their opponents a combined 162-25 finishing 12-0 in the month, and McDaniel added that nothing is changing for the Bulldogs late in the postseason.
“We’re going to do what we always do,” McDaniel said. “We’re going to go in there and play our game.”
Prince 2-4, 2B, ROE, R, CS
Gibson, P. 1-3, ROE, RBI, R
McDaniel 1-3, HR, R, 2 RBI
Tatara 2 BB, R
Bellino 1-2, sac bunt
Fleming HBP, sac fly, RBI, R
Sappington 1-3, HR, 2 RBI, R
Aviles, O. 2-4, 2B, RBI, R
Corbin BB, RBI, CS
Bradley CI, ROE
Patrick 1-3, 2B, ROE, R
Bill sac bunt
McDaniel W 7 IP, 3 R, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 3 K
Corbin L 6 IP, 6 R, 6 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 1 HBP, 0 K