The Halifax National Angels all-star team needed to defeat unbeaten Amherst twice on Wednesday to win the Virginia Dixie Softball Angels state title.
It came as close as it could, finishing as state runner-ups after an 8-7 loss to Amherst in the state title game.
Halifax National defeated Amherst 6-5 earlier in the evening to force a deciding game for the state title.
“I am proud of the heart shown on the field the entire tournament,” said Halifax National Manager Mashonda Richardson.
Halifax National had a solid defensive effort each game but struggled offensively against Amherst’s strong pitching staff, according to Richardson.
In three games against Amherst, Halifax was out-hit by a 24-7 margin, while Halifax pitching struck out seven batters, compared to 30 for Amherst, Richardson pointed out.
“Bunting was the reason we stayed in the game,” explained Richardson.
“As a coach, I had to use the strategy of small ball, and it helped us stay in the game.
“I would like to thank all of the support from parents, grandparents and the community.”
Halifax National 7
Halifax finished with seven hits, including two hits apiece from Allie Payne and Kyndall Richardson, a double from Hayden Rudder and singles from Avery Crenshaw and Emmerson Salley, but a last at-bat rally fell just short in an 8-7 loss to Amherst.
Hits by Salley and Payne, and walks to Lily Torian, Ashlyn Epperson and Kendra Hamlett helped give Halifax a 4-1 lead after one inning, but Amherst plated a run with the help of a base hit, walk and groundout in the third inning and added four runs off a double, two base hits and a walk in the fourth inning.
Amherst added two runs off two base hits and a walk in the top of the fifth inning to take an 8-4 lead, and Halifax rallied with two runs in its last at-bat on singles from Payne and Richardson and a double by Rudder.
A groundout and strikeout ended the rally with Halifax County falling just short of a state title.
Salley, Torian and Rudder pitched for Halifax in the state title game, with the three hurlers allowing seven hits with four strikeouts and four walks.
Halifax National 6 Amherst 5
Halifax took a 4-0 lead in the second inning and held on for a 6-5 win in the first game.
National finished with two hits for the game, including a two-run double by Hamlett and a single by Salley.
Richardson, Rudder, Ella Seamster, Torian, Epperson and Hamlett reached base via the walk during the game for Halifax National, which recorded 11 stolen bases.
Hamlett stole four bases, Richardson and Rudder two bases apiece, and Salley, Seamster and Kennedy Bowen each stole a base.
Rudder pitched all five innings to get the win, allowing three earned runs while scattering nine hits.