BEDFORD — Bre Bosley, Olivia Cook, Cana Davis and Kierstin Roadcap stood in a small group Saturday evening at Liberty High School after their Turner Ashby High School softball team lost its first game of the season and discussed what happened.
The Knights’ catcher, second baseman, center fielder and first baseman attributed the 5-2 defeat to Brookville in the 3A West regional championship game to two things: 1) Brookville’s pitcher, freshman Jordan Dail, who tossed a one-hitter and, 2) TA not recovering from a calamitous first inning in which the Bees sent nine batters to the plate and, thanks to three hits and TA error, went up 4-1.
“Previous games when we were down, we turned the page and went to the next inning, next play, next strike, whatever,” said Roadcap, who had the Knights’ lone hit, an RBI single in the sixth inning. “But we just stayed in the first inning this game and we didn’t move on from it.”
Turner Ashby (24-1) whiffed on winning its first regional title since 2009 but it can still get a state title. The Knights clinched a berth in the 3A tournament by reaching the regional championship game and will play Brentsville noon Friday at Liberty University in the state semifinals.
In the new six-classification system, state tournaments are reduced to two rounds from the three of the old three-class format.
“It would have been great to be region champions,” Bosley said. “But we’re going to states.”
If the Knights beat Brentsville, the 3A East region champion, a rematch with undefeated Brookville (25-0) is possible. And that means facing Dail (21-0), a diminutive left-hander, who her coach, Gary Ferguson, described as “effectively wild.”
Before Saturday’s game, Dail probably wouldn’t have been classified as a control pitcher. But she harnessed her low-60s fastball, locating it and using an effective rise ball to get the Knights to chase, especially up in the strike zone. TA never really made solid contact, and both its runs were unearned.
Ferguson said Dail is at her best when she’s locating her fastball.
“She spots the fastball very well,” he said. “Her breaking balls are good, and she does a throw a rise. She’s got a good repertoire of pitches that she can throw and she did a great job today. … She spotted the ball really well, probably the best she’s spotted it all year.”
Senior shortstop Morgan Bruce — who is going to Division II West Virginia Wesleyan and went 2-for-2 Saturday with her sixth home run of the season and three RBIs — said Dail’s control has gotten better in the playoffs.
“She’s wild sometimes; she hits people sometimes, but the last couple of games, she’s definitely settled down because she’s a lot more focused during these postseason games,” Bruce said. “She’s really proving that she’s a ninth-grade prodigy.”
TA went ahead 1-0 in the first inning when Cana Davis — who reached on an error — scored from second on an error.
Then the bottom of the first happened, and the Knights never rebounded.
“We didn’t stay in the moment,” Davis said. “We stayed in the moment that happened before.”
The Knights added a second run in the sixth inning when Roadcap singled to left field to score Cook from second. Cook reached on an error — one of five made by the Bees.
TA got the tying run to the plate in the top of the seventh with one out but couldn’t score. Katrina Martin reached on an error and Alexa Sheets walked, but both were stranded.
“I think we finally started adjusting and attacking pitches instead of sitting back on our heels like somebody was supposed to come get us,” TA coach Laura Bowman said. “I just felt like we stayed on our heels the whole entire game.”
After giving up that run in the top of the first, Dail cruised through the next four innings. Starting with the last batter of the first, she retired 14 of the next 15. It would have been 16 of 16, but Brookville made two errors in that stretch.
“I felt like they put a lot pressure on [us], and we added to that pressure by not doing little things, like getting ahead in the count batting and not being aggressive,” Bowman said. “Just taking first pitches every single time we were at bat.
“... I don’t think we swung hard. Like I said, I think we just put pressure on ourselves. That did not look like us at all today.”
Turner Ashby 100 001 0 — 2 1 1
Brookville 401 000 x — 5 6 5
Helmick and Bosley; Dail and Dray. W — Dail (21-0). L — Helmick (22-1). HR — Brookville: Bruce (6).