By Owen Gotimer
Purcellville (May 28, 2015) – A slow start to the Vikings’ offense exploded in the sixth inning, when No. 1 Loudoun Valley High School scored eight runs on eight hits to run-rule No. 4 Skyline High School, 12-2, in a Conference 28 softball semifinal in Purcellville on May 27.
“It’s a pitcher they’ve never seen before so they just needed to get their timing and pitching rotation down to see what she was pitching,” Loudoun Valley head coach Kristin Thurston said. “Once they caught on to it, it was obvious they did a good job.”
Viking freshman Tressa Kagarise got the scoring started in the sixth when she singled and scored on an error two batters later. Loudoun Valley freshman Reagan Brill ended the scoring in the sixth when she singled in the Vikings’ eleventh and twelfth runs.
“We need to jump on them offensively quicker,” Thurston said. “Once you jump on someone offensively you usually get momentum and waiting until the sixth inning is a little bit too late.”
Luckily for the Vikings, Kagarise settled in in the circle after a textbook first inning for the Hawks – leadoff single, followed by a sacrifice bunt, followed by an RBI single – and didn’t need much run support all game. The freshman ace scattered seven hits over six innings, allowing two earned runs while striking out six Skyline batters.
What really stands out about Kagarise isn’t her dominant speed, movement or control, but her poise at such a young age.
“We have a great catcher that will slow down the game for her and let her actually run the game. She’s a hard-nosed pitcher,” Thurston said. “She finds the spot that the umpire’s going to call, and they’re not going to swing: we saw that low pitch tonight, and she just stuck it there. She’s a really focused kid and much more mature than her grade level.”
Skyline freshman Tamara Grayson controlled the Viking hitters through the first two innings, striking out the side in the second, but Loudoun Valley home runs by junior Erika Elias in the third and senior Kailey Liverman in the fourth opened up the flood gates.
“She’s a freshman, and she was one of the better pitchers we faced,” Thurston said. “She did a good job.”
With the win, Loudoun Valley improved to 17-3 on the season and earned a chance to play for the Conference 28 title against No. 3 William Monroe High School on Friday, May 29 in front of a home crowd in Purcellville.
“These girls are the hardest working team I’ve ever had. Their talent level is great, but their work ethic is amazing,” Thurston said. “They’re so close. I’ve never met a team that doesn’t have drama with twelve girls and that’s why they’re winning: their attitude towards each other.”
Elias 2-4, HR, 2B, ROE, 3 R, 2 RBI
Kopf 1-4, ROE, R
Holtz 2-4, R, 2 RBI
Liverman 1-4, HR, R, RBI
Hays 3-4, 2B, 2 R, RBI
Fisher 0-2, HBP, BB, R
Kagarise 2-3, 2 R, RBI
Cheskiewicz 0-1, SB
Coles 2-4, RBI
Brill 2-4, R, 2 RBI
Sims 1-4, R
Grayson 2-3, sac bunt
Dawkins 2-3, RBI
Brown 1-2, HR, HBP, R, RBI
Craig 0-2, BB
Grim 0-1, BB, sac bunt
Colton 0-0, 2 BB, sac bunt
Kagarise W 6 IP, 2 R, 2 ER, 7 H, 4 BB, 1 HBP, 6 K
Grayson L 5.2 IP, 12 R, 6 ER, 15 H, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 4 K
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Syracuse University where he earned a degree in broadcast and digital journalism. Before attending SU, Owen graduated from Heritage High School in Leesburg. Follow LoCoSports on Twitter (@LoCoSports) for up-to-date news and scores from around Loudoun County.