Two state runners-up on the diamond

Published 10:04 am Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Fuqua School’s varsity softball and baseball teams both capped off successful seasons with appearances in their respective Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division III state championships games, and both teams came up short of their ultimate goal to win them against Southampton Academy.

The No. 1-seeded Lady Falcons struck first in their title game Friday, but No. 3 Southampton responded with a trio of runs after a weather delay and went on to win 3-1 in Sutherland.

“I thought the effort was there,” Lady Falcons Head Coach Mike Ford said of his team’s play. “We could have swung the bat a little better …  But just a tough game.”

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To a certain degree it was the tale of two halves. Fuqua kept the Lady Raiders off the scoreboard with solid defense and pitching early, and in the bottom of the third inning with no outs, Lady Falcons sophomore Gracie Hodges hit a solo home run over the left field fence.

A couple pitches later, a weather delay began that lasted for a little more than an hour.

After play resumed, junior Alexa Marzloff singled, but Fuqua could not generate any more offense in the inning. Then the Lady Raiders went to work in the top of the fourth.

“They scored their runs the first inning back from the rain delay,” Ford said.

Southampton took the lead off of a two-run single, and then an error allowed the Lady Raiders to score a third run.

Fuqua generated four hits for the game, three before the rain delay. Marzloff had two hits, and Hodges and sophomore Regan Ware had one apiece.

Ware pitched the entire game and threw eight strikeouts.

The Lady Falcons advanced to the state final after winning 8-1 against visiting No. 8 Tidewater Academy in the quarterfinals May 16 and then edging No. 4 Kenston Forest School 7-6 in the semifinals Thursday.

Fuqua finished the 2017 season with a record of 15-4.

“We had fun,” Ford said. “I’ve seen the girls get better all through the year — I mean every player out there. … And I expect to be better next year.”

On Saturday in Colonial Heights, the fourth-seeded Fuqua baseball team scored first and twice came back to either tie or lead No. 2 Southampton in the title game, but ultimately the Raiders won 6-5.

“Tough loss, tough battle, but we just committed too many errors,” Falcons Head Coach John Adams said. “They committed a few, but we committed the timely errors that cost us a few (runs).”

Fuqua finished the game with six errors and six hits, while Southampton had four errors and seven hits.

Leading the Falcons offensively, senior Christian Williams went 3-for-3, hitting a trio of singles, and he had two runs scored. Junior Hunter Gilliam and freshman Drew Osborn had two RBIs apiece.

Senior Devin Allen started on the mound for Fuqua and was eventually relieved by Gilliam.

Highlighting the disparity of ages between the Falcons and Raiders, Adams said he was proud of his young players holding their own against their older peers.

The Falcons finished the 2017 season with a record of 11-6, advancing to the state final after beating No. 5 Kenston Forest School 14-7 in the quarterfinals May 16 and eliminating No. 1 Walsingham Academy 4-2 in the semifinals Thursday.

“I’m proud of the guys to come out (at) the start of the season not even being ranked to jumping up in the standings and being able to make the playoffs,” Adams said.