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SOFTBALL NOTEPAD: No Brandts, no worries for Nalls-led Foxes
King George softball coach Renee Parker isn’t surprised to see her Foxes again challenging for a postseason run, even without the big piece they graduated from last year’s team.
“Losing [pitcher Taylor Brandts] didn’t scare me the way it scared everyone else,” Parker said. “I didn’t go into this blindly. We track it closely, and we knew the rest of our offense was coming back.”
Indeed, after last year’s run to the Region I title and the state semifinals (the best season in school history) King George has come back in a big way. The Foxes are 8–1 overall and 4–0 in Conference 22, keeping pace with Fauquier (5–0 in the conference).
Parker said the offense has been critical. Sophomore shortstop Alexis Sheehan and senior first baseman Monica Brandts are leading the way statistically.
“I’d say we’ve got seven out of the nine in our lineup that are consistently hitting,” Parker said. “Now we’re just working on those other two.”
The other key has been freshman pitcher Ashleigh Nalls, who carried the burden of replacing Brandts.
The graduated pitcher has a 2.60 ERA in 110 innings with 113 strikeouts for U.Va.–Wise, and was a workhorse on the mound for last year’s King George team. Nalls has picked up where Brandts left off.
“And I think knowing she’s only a freshman makes you excited for things to come,” Parker said.
Nalls doesn’t throw as hard as Brandts did. But she’s got very effective offspeed pitches to complement her fastball.
“She has great location,” Parker said. “If she’s warmed up properly, she can hit where you need to hit.”
The Foxes are on spring break this week, but a key stretch awaits when conference play resumes.
King George hosts Liberty on April 29, and then plays at Eastern View on April 30 and at Fauquier on May 2. The Foxes already have wins over Eastern View and Liberty; the showdown with fellow conference unbeaten Fauquier will be key in the conference race. The second meeting between the Falcons and Foxes is May 19.
“Having those games right off of spring break is tough,” Parker said. “We know Fauquier is gunning for us, just like we’re gunning for them.
“I don’t think the girls believe yet that they can do what they did last year, but we’re working on that, too.”