By Tommy Keeler Jr.
Things didn't start off well for the Shenandoah Valley Mavericks in the Softball Nation National Tournament on July 24-27, but they made sure it ended well.
The team recovered from an early loss and a tie and went on to win the 14-U tournament held in Virginia Beach.
"It was pretty cool," Mavericks coach John Seymour said. "I was really proud of the way the girls played."
After rain washed out the first day of the 26-team tournament, the Mavericks went 0-1-1 in pool play. On July 26, the Mavericks were seeded fourth in bracket play and won four games to advance to the semifinals.
"We started off with a 15-0 win and that really got us some confidence," Seymour said.
In the fourth game of the day, the Mavericks knocked off rival Blue Ridge Sudden Impact, 5-3.
The tournament consisted of teams from Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia. In the semifinals, the Mavericks were left with three teams from the Virginia Beach area.
The Mavericks beat the Hampton Roads Vipers to advance to the championship game against Orion Hunter.
"Orion Hunter has been around for 25 years, and they've always been good," Seymour said.
The Mavericks trailed 2-0 and 3-1, but rallied to take a 4-3 lead. Orion Hunter tied the game at 4-4 in the bottom of the seventh and went to extra innings. The Mavericks scored three runs in the eighth and held on for a 7-4 victory.
"It was an unbelievable game," Seymour said. "The girls played really well."
The Mavericks went 35-8-1 on the season.
"The kids just came out swinging the bats," Seymour said. "They worked hard all winter."
The Mavericks are made up of rising freshman from around the area. One player will play at Jefferson County (W.Va.) next year, while the rest will play in the Shenandoah Valley.
"All the parents and coaches got along well," Seymour said.
Korenn Paige, a rising freshman at Sherando, led the team with a .695 batting average (16-for-23). She had 16 hits in eight games, and had two home runs and 12 RBIs. She also had a two-run double in the eighth inning of the championship game. Central rising freshman Kristina Stead led the way in the circle going 2-0 with 13 strikeouts in 13 innings pitched. Stead also hit .350 (7-for-20) with nine RBIs.
Paige, Stead, Alyssa Brown and Megan Hicks were selected to the All-tournament team. Warren County rising freshman Lisette Moya batted .300 and had two RBIs, while Sherando rising freshman Tori Seymour batted .363 (8-for-22) with a double and six RBIs.
The Mavericks scored 67 runs in the eight games in the tournament. They also batted 3.81 in the eight games, and had a total of 74 hits.
"Confidence breeds confidence," John Seymour said. "Once one player gets a hit, then the next one does, it become contagious."
John Seymour said the experience will be a benefit to the program for years to come.
"It absolutely helps the whole organization," he said. "The big thing is the kids have a place to go play, and they don't have to spend a fortune and go over the mountain [to Loudoun County] to play."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd