RADFORD, Va. – There is crying in softball.
Sometimes it’s a good cry. Other times it’s not so good.
Chloe Bordwine experienced both in a span of three innings in Northwood’s heart-breaking 5-4 nine inning Class 1 state semifinal loss to Rappahannock County on Thursday afternoon at Radford University.
“It was really tough,” said Bordwine, who, like her teammates, fought through tears after the game. “We thought we had it. It is just tough having six seniors and losing them all.”
Good tears flowed out of Bordwine in the seventh, leading off the frame with a long home run into the trees well beyond the center field fence.
“It felt really good. Whenever I hit it I was like, ‘Oh crap, that is gone,’ ” Bordwine said. “I was crying when I was running around second base.”
Northwood (27-2) added another run, overcoming a 4-2 deficit to force extra innings where the Panthers fell short to another collection of Panthers.
“A heart-breaking loss,” Northwood head coach B.J. Buchanan said. “We just did stuff we hadn’t done all year and we got beat.”
Rappahannock County (18-7), which rallied from a 2-1 deficit to take a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh, scored the deciding run in the top of the ninth against Northwood standout pitcher Nancy Jo Roberts, who struck out 12 and walked seven in the loss.
“I am so proud of them,” Rappahannock County head coach Jeff Adkins said. “That is a good team, and she is a dominant pitcher, I can tell you that.”
Allie Phillips led off the ninth with a walk and was forced out at second on a ground ball by Mirandah Jenkins. Taylor Settle followed with a line drive to the left of Northwood third baseman Catie Bordwine, who couldn’t hang onto the ball, but fielded it on the bounce and threw to second, but the ball flew into center field.
It was the lone error of the game for the Panthers.
“It was a big one,” Buchanan said.
Jenkins just kept running, eventually crossing the plate with what proved to be the winning run.
“She was going,” Adkins said. “She was either going to be thrown out at the plate or she was going to be safe. We gambled. I probably gambled a little bit too much. We have got some speed.”
Northwood went down in order in the ninth against freshman pitcher Kammie Brown, who replaced Abi McClary with a runner on first and no outs in the seventh. She surrendered an RBI single to Catie Bordwine to tie the score at 4-4, but then retired the final eight batters of the game.
“I was really nervous,” said Brown, who also had three hits and drove in two runs for Rappahannock County. “I was just trying to hit my corners and make sure I didn’t pitch right down the middle.”
Both teams scored a run apiece in the first on an RBI single from Brown and an RBI double in the bottom of the frame by Catie Bordwine. The combination of McClary and Brown only struck out two batters, but Rappahannock County made nearly all the plays in the field.
“You have to take your hats off to them. They made all the defensive plays,” Buchanan said. “They made every play. Every ball we hit they made the plays. When we did hit it they made the plays. They made back-hand stops, running catches. They just beat us.”
Only in the fifth did that defense spring a leak, with a pair of errors and alert base-running by Lexie Woodward putting Northwood up 2-1. Yet, Rappahannock County responded in the top of the sixth, taking a 3-2 lead on a two-run double to left field by McClary.
“They made a couple of plays. My philosophy is, we had an error right there, but if we make a mistake, somebody has got to pick that player up,” Adkins said. “They came back and got two runs and didn’t get down on themselves. Usually my old teams in the past would have fell apart.”
The lead grew to 4-2 in the seventh on a double by Jenkins and an RBI single from Brown, who replaced McClary in the circle three batters into the bottom of the seventh.
“[Kammie] is a solid little ball player, just loves the game,” Adkins said.
It was Northwood which rallied in the bottom of the seventh, led by Chloe Bordwine’s home run. Woodward, who had two hits and scored three runs, followed with a single, hustled to third on a sacrifice bunt by Lindsey Sword and crossed the plate on a single by Bordwine’s senior sister, Catie, who had three hits and drove in two runs.
It was Rappahannock County that benefited from an error in the ninth, and now those Panthers will face Auburn in search of its first state softball title since 2001.
I am so excited. That was a great team,” Adkins said. “All teams are good here. It is time to go home, get some rest and come back.”
Northwood’s season ended in the state semifinals for a second straight year, having fallen to Auburn in eight innings last season.
“We wanted to get further than that this game,” Buchanan said. “I am always proud of them. They always play hard, you can’t ask for no more.”