ERHS Trails In Semifinals

Posted: May 28, 2014

ERHS’s Morgan Breeden throws a pitch Tuesday in the Conference 36 semifinals against Buffalo Gap. (Photo by Jason Lenhart / DN-R)

ELKTON — In Jody McCurdy’s first three years as East Rockingham High School’s softball coach, her teams have been eliminated from the playoffs in heartbreaking fashion.

In 2011, the school’s first year in existence, ERHS lost to Nandua 5-3 in the Group A, Division 2 state quarterfinals after allowing three runs in the seventh inning. 2012 brought a similar fate for the Eagles, a 2-1 walk-off loss to Rappahannock in the Group A, Division 1 state quarterfinals.

Last year was the closest McCurdy and the Eagles have come to a state title game appearance, losing 2-1 to Honaker in the Group A, Division 1 state semifinals after surrendering the go-ahead run in the seventh inning.

“It was very tough. One-run games are always a tough loss because you know you were right there and every single game we’ve lost in the postseason we’ve been right there,” McCurdy said Tuesday after ERHS’s Conference 36 semifinal game against Buffalo Gap was suspended because of rain.

ERHS (11-8) trailed 3-0 in the bottom of the second inning Tuesday after Gap scored three runs in the first inning off starting pitcher Morgan Breeden. The Eagles and Bison will resume play at 5 p.m. today in Elkton, assuming the weather cooperates.

The winner will secure a spot in the 2A East regional tournament. The C-36 championship game – played only for regional seeding – is scheduled for Thursday at Riverheads. The Gladiators defeated Wilson Memorial 6-5 on Tuesday.

First, ERHS needs to come back against Buffalo Gap, a team the Eagles split with during the regular season.

“You approach it like, yeah, we got punched three times and we just got to work back one run at a time and get it back,” McCurdy said.

McCurdy, a former softball player at Turner Ashby in the early 2000s and the daughter of Eastern Mennonite University softball coach J.D. McCurdy, took over the varsity coaching position at ERHS prior to the 2010-11 postseason after Sharon Sipe mysteriously resigned.

In a short amount of time, the Eagles have turned into a serious state title contender year in and year out. Built around star players Jessica Lam, Chase Raynes and Haley Life and current seniors Breeden and Melanie Kisling, ERHS has established itself as one of the top area teams.

“I think we’re a name that teams look at and say ‘we have to play our best game,’” McCurdy said.

McCurdy said this year’s team is the youngest she’s ever had at East Rockingham. Tuesday, the Eagles started just two seniors and two juniors to go along with two sophomores and four freshmen.

The Eagles might be inexperienced, but playoff experience does count. Madison Shifflett, Jaclyn Gooden and Allison Jefferson, all freshmen, played on the ERHS girls’ basketball team that lost in the 2A state semifinals.

McCurdy, who is 53-22-2 in her varsity coaching career, will take all the help she can get.

“It’s a whole different game and you’re not going to blow anybody out of the water in the postseason,” McCurdy said. “Everybody is fighting for that win. Everything gets tougher. Your competition gets tougher and you have to step up to that level and rise above it in those tough situations.”

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