Chantilly (June 9, 2013) – For the second time in school history, Stone Bridge High School fell shy of collecting the Bulldogs first VHSL AAA state softball title after coming up just one run short of a come from behind victory against Great Bridge, falling 10-9 at Westfield High School Sunday.
“I guess the only way it could have been a little better is if we could have got one right there and given ourselves a chance,” Bulldogs coach Billy Rice said.
Stone Bridge fought back from an 8-run, fifth inning deficit to pull within one run in the seventh.
“The Stone Bridge kids are awesome,” Great Bridge coach Kirk Clayton said. “That is a fantastic team. They had us pretty scared there at the end. They just came back: hitting, hitting, hitting, hitting.”
With one out and two runners aboard in the final frame, Stone Bridge cleanup hitter and starting pitcher Kelly McDaniel stepped up to the plate and ripped a line drive at the third baseman who caught the ball before throwing to second to double off the runner ending the Bulldogs magical season at 28-2.
“It burns, hurts, stings: nobody wants to be on this end,” Rice said. “Overall, the time with these guys, I wouldn’t trade for anything. The experience with these young ladies has been phenomenal.”
The Bulldogs finished their season outscoring their opponents by a staggering, combined 244 runs in the 30 gamees. However, in the title game they came up a run short, and possibly missed the chance to play extra innings after a questionable call went against Stone Bridge in the third inning.
“We have to play hard,” Rice said. “We have to control what we can control. We can’t control what happens outside of our own abilities and own efforts.”
Nonetheless, with bases loaded and no outs in the third McDaniel got the Wildcats No. 9 hitter to drop a bunt less than six inches from home plate. It appeared that the Bulldog’s catcher Olivia Tatara picked the ball up and stepped on the plate before turning to look for a potential double play opportunity at first base, but the home plate umpire saw the play unfold differently alleging that Tatara never touched the plate.
“I am curious how it looks on film,” Rice said. “It doesn’t really matter because it has come and gone but it would have been nice to get that run.”
Bad call or not, a clearly emotional Rice made it clear that his team worked hard all season and that he will miss all of the seniors including shortstop Niki Prince and centerfielder Sydney Broderick.
“The best part about them is the younger kids get to see how they play,” Rice said. “If that trickles down then we’re in a good spot. They are leaving a legacy. They’re two of the best to ever play here. As long as we commit to playing like they played, I think we have a chance to be back in this type of arena again. They will be missed.”
Prince and Broderick will not be the only missed seniors on the squad as the Bulldogs also have to say goodbye to their ace in McDaniel.
“Kelly is so solid,” Rice said. “It’s so nice to have someone as reliable as her: both being able to understand everything we want her to do and perform it. It’s a pleasure to coach someone like that.”
In closing Rice added of his senior class, “They’re all special because we’ve been together for so long. They’re all going to be missed.”
Prince 1-1, BB, 3 HBP, 4 R
Gibson, C. 3-4, sac bunt, RBI, CS
Broderick 3-5, 4 RBI, R, SB
McDaniel 1-5, RBI
Kenny 1-4, RBI, R
Tatara 1-3, BB
Fleming 1-3, BB, RBI, R
Sappington 2-4, 2 R
Smith 1-5, 2B, R
Paulk 3-5, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R
Carr 2-5, R
Rupe 3-4, HBP, RBI, 2 R
Ambrose 3-5, ROE, RBI, R
Parker 2-5, 2B, RBI, R
Meeks 1-4, 2 ROE, R
Strother BB, 2 ROE, R
McDaniel L 7 IP, 10 R, 3 ER, 16 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 2 K
Harless W 7 IP, 9 R, 9 ER, 13 H, 3 BB, 4 HBP, 0 K