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Fauquier softball routs Nansemond River, 12-3, to make Class 4A state final

Friday, Jun. 13 | By Peter Brewington
Fauquier's entire team greets Macy Mathews as she touches home plate after her two-run home run in the 4th inning gave the Falcons a lead en route to a 12-3 win over Nansemond River in the Class 4A state semifinals Friday at Liberty University. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
It was the bottom of the seventh inning of Friday’s Class 4A state softball semifinal battle between Fauquier and Nansemond River at Liberty University in Lynchburg.

A time of nerve-wracking tension, right?

Nope, any drama had simply drifted away as the Falcons banged out six hits and seven runs in the top of the seventh to break open a close game, win 12-3, and advance to the first state softball championship in school history.

“There’s nothing to say. We’re now set in school history and I’m glad to be part of it. The kids did it. I’m just along for the ride,” said coach Mark Ott.

While Ott did have a role, pushing some key buttons, he also has a point. The Falcons played a poised complete game, banging out 14 hits off Nansemond River ace Lauren Maddrey, who came into the game with a 19-2 record and 1.47 ERA.

They also played flawless defense and got a poised mound performance from their ace Tess Miller, who allowed just one run the last six innings.

Ott said he knew little about Nansemond River (22-3) other than reading articles and concluding the team was fast. The Warriors, who feature six all-region players, did drop some bunts in the first inning and scored two runs. It was an ominous start, but Miller settled down.

“Chalk it up to nerves,” said Miller. "I made adjustments on their hitters."

The Falcons (19-7) tied the game at 2-2 on a two-run homer by freshman Jesse Goodwin in the third inning, then pinch hitter Macy Mathews delivered the biggest hit of her career with a two-run homer in the top of the fourth.

Mathews’ high arching blast to deep left gave the Falcons a 4-2 lead and turned out to be the game-winning hit.

“It was right down the middle. It was perfect,” said Mathews describing a pitch in her wheelhouse.

Fauquier finished with 16 hits. Leadoff hitter Leann Brown was 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI. Goodwin was 3-for-4 with a homer and three RBI, and Rachel Taylor was 3-for-4. Mathews was 2-for-2 with the homer and two RBI and two runs scored. Apryl Nalls was 2-for-3 and Ashtyn Foddrell was 2-for-4.

After Mathews’ clout, Fauquier made it 5-2 in the same inning when Leann Brown tripled and Goodwin hit a sacrifice fly.

Nansemond River cut it to 5-3 in the fifth and figured to have their 1-2-3 hitters bat in what figured to be a thrilling bottom of the seventh, but the Falcons' seven-run top of the seventh accounted for the 12-3 final.

Big hits in the top of the seventh came from Rachel Taylor, who drilled a double up the left field line, and Apryl Nalls, who doubled off the center fielder's glove to score Taylor. It escalated after that as Angelle Marshall smashed a run scoring singfle off pitcher Maddrey's shin to score Nalls. Brown later added a bases loaded single to right to score Marlee Ott and Shelby Hightower.

Maddrey was later lifted in favor of Jesse Rodgers and the Falcons added the seventh run of the inning off her.

When Miller took the mound for the bottom of the seventh she had a nine-run cushion that was too big to blow, but she still respected the situation. “It was tight. Even though it was 12-3 it isn’t over,” said Miller.

“I felt the pressure, it’s better now,” she said about the biggest game of her life.

Although practically every Falcon came through, the ultimate game-winning hit was delivered by Mathews, a tall junior who rarely starts, but whose bat is respected by Ott.

“She kills it in practice. She was sick in the middle part of the season," explained Ott, who says he tries to decide when to use her. "I save it for times we need it."

“We were all excited for her. It felt like we hit it we love her so much,” said Marshall of Mathews.

Mathews wasn't the only Falcon to blast a ball beyond Liberty's 210-foot fences. Goodwin’s homer got the Falcons rolling. She delivered on a 3-2 pitch and it cleared rapidly on a line drive. “It seemed right down the middle,” said Goodwin of the pitch. “It came off the bat good and had some pop.”

With steely resolve the Falcons now prepare for Woodgrove in Saturday's final.

The Wolverines loom as the favorite after making the last three state finals and winning in 2012. Asked the key to reversing their 7-4 loss to Woodgrove in the North Region championship, Miller said, "Get up early and stay ahead."

One thing the Falcons have in their favor are two key freshmen - Brown and Goodwin -- at the top of the lineup. “They’re amazing. They’re going to be pillars of the team for another three years,” said Miller.

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