Driven to win a state title

Published 10:22 am Thursday, March 15, 2018

Head Coach Mike Ford didn’t take any indirect route in identifying the primary focus of the 2018 Fuqua School varsity softball team.

“Our goal is to win the state championship,” he said. “That’s (a) long, hard road, but that’s what our goal is.”

While some might consider that the normal perspective for a team, the Lady Falcons are not in a situation that most would consider normal.

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They held the No. 1 seed in last year’s Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III state tournament, reached the title game and narrowly fell 3-1 to No. 3 Southampton Academy.

Shortly after that game, Ford set the goal for his team to be better at the start of the 2018 season than it was at that point, creating a platform for even greater improvement this year.

Asked if his players achieved that goal, Ford said, “Yeah, hands down, I’m real proud of them. I got to hit and field with a few of them over the winter, and actually saw most of them swing the bat. We’re well ahead of last year.”

Fuqua lost only two players from last year’s team due to graduation — Mary Grace Amos and Katie Haney, who was sidelined due to injury — and this year’s team remains relatively young. It features two seniors, 10 juniors and three sophomores.

The Lady Falcons are already off to a 2-0 start, defeating visiting Kenston Forest School 4-1 on March 8 and then routing host Westover Christian Academy 15-0 on March 9.

“We’ve still got a lot to work on, a lot to improve on,” Ford said. But as for the contest against Westover, “That was the best hitting game since I’ve been here.”

Junior Regan Ware will be a key contributor in the circle, and Hannah-Gray Schmidt and junior Virginia Haney will also see time there.

This weekend, Fuqua will return to the Dinwiddie Sports Complex, where it played last year’s state tourney. The Lady Falcons will face Isle of Wight Academy on Friday at 6 p.m. and Nansemond-Suffolk Academy on Saturday at noon.