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Commonwealth Softball: Unlikely heroes emerge for North Stafford
BY JUSTIN RICE
The bottom half of North Stafford’s lineup was a collective 1-for-20 in the first 11 innings of Thursday’s Commonwealth District softball semifinal against Stafford.
So it was a pleasant surprise when seniors Ali Romero, Helena Rotte and Julia Barbarczuk—the Nos. 6, 7 and 9 hitters for the Wolverines—came up so huge.
Romero reached base on an error to lead off the 12th inning, Rotte had a bunt single, and Barbarczuk’s mishandled grounder drove in Romero with the game-winning run in a 3–2 victory against the Indians.
“It meant a lot to see the bottom of the lineup pick it up and win such a huge game for us,” said North Stafford coach Pam Kantor. “It couldn’t have happened to a better group of kids.”
The Wolverines (20–2) will host Albemarle on Monday in the district championship game. Stafford hosts Colonial Forge at 6 p.m. today in the consolation game, with the winner advancing to the Northwest Region tournament.
“We don’t want our season to end [today],” Stafford coach Cathie Tobin said. “We want to have to make that long drive to Franklin County [for the region first round].”
The Wolverines took a 1–0 lead in the first inning after Jess Nowak led off the game with a single to left field. She scored on a single to right-center by Ashleigh Neville.
Stafford answered back in the sixth, with some help by the North Stafford defense.
Lindsey Lafratta dropped a single between two outfielders and Dominique McCoy reached on an error. Both then scored on an errant throw home after Kristen Weadon put the pull in play with one out.
The Wolverines immediately answered back, though. Nowak had another leadoff single—she was 3-for-5 with a double—and scored on Kelsie Barker’s line drive up the middle to tie the game, 2–2.
Barker then settled in on the pitching mound.
She retired 19 of the next 20 batters she faced, and the only Stafford hitter to reach first after the sixth inning was picked off by Wolverines catcher Beth Kelley.
Stafford pitcher Megan Reed dodged trouble in the seventh when Romero was caught stealing third. In the 11th, Barker and Kelley were on second and third with one out, but Reed escaped again to send the game to the 12th.
In the bottom half of that inning, Romero led off with a bunt attempt that was mishandled. Rotte—then trying to just advance Romero to second—laid down a perfect bunt down the first-base line that turned into a single.
Reed then got a soft popup for the first out, but Barbarczuk smacked the first pitch she saw, and when the grounder was mishandled, Romero scored the game-winning run without a throw home.
“At the end of the day, it’s who plays the cleanest game,” Tobin said. “I think that both teams made equal number of boo-boos, but it’s when you make those mistakes that matters.”
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MEGAN REED and Kristen Weadon. KELSIE BARKER and Beth Kelley.
Justin Rice: 540/368-5045