Last week was a challenging one for Rappahannock’s varsity softball. On March 24, the girls lost 4-3 at Highland and, over the weekend, finished fourth in the Panther Invitational.
The Highland game started with great Panther energy. Coach Jamie Harris described the momentum: “Natalie Tupper led off the second inning with a booming triple. She scored on a Taylor Berta hit. Then, Lindy Paul was up and smacked another hit. Berta scored on a Caitlin Miller hit to make it 2-0.”
In the fourth, Allie Dore scored on a Brittani Dodson single to get Rapp up 3-0, but the Highland pitcher “shut down the Panther attack” in the bottom of the inning. “They picked up their first run, then tied the game” in the sixth as Rapp committed three consecutive field errors.” In the final inning, Rapp gave up a lead-off walk and steal, then Highland scored the winning run on an RBI double. “It was a heartbreaker in nine innings,” Harris said.
“All of it happened in the sixth inning,” junior Brittani Dodson said. “They got up to bat, and they were just on. It was the hardest game to lose because there are so many emotions involved. Three players on their team should be students at Rapp, but they’re not. So, that hurts.” According to Coach Harris: “I look at it as a learning experience. We cannot underestimate anyone we play. The mistakes we made, we can fix them. All it takes is a little more hard work, some extra sweat and grit.”
After the disappointing loss to Highland, the Panther ladies hosted their first home tournament: The Panther Invitational. Skyline High School won the tournament with a 2-0 win over Bath County, followed by a 15-0 win over the Maryland School of the Deaf in the championship game. Rappahannock finished fourth; Bath finished third. “It was an awesome day to watch softball,” Coach Harris said, “and we saw some of the best players that the state of Virginia and Maryland had to offer.”
Rapp played its first tournament game against Maryland School of the Deaf Saturday morning and lost 12-4. “MSD broke open the game with a 10-run first inning with most of those runs assisted by six Panther errors. Panthers fought back in the bottom of the first when Natalie Tupper scored on an RBI single. “Tupper scored her second run on another passed ball,” Harris said, “but MSD put the game away in the fifth with two more runs to make the score 12-3. We tacked on our final run in the seventh inning as Dodson singled, stole second and scored Hannah Kopjanski’s RBI single.”
Rapp’s second tournament game brought another disappointment with an 11-0 loss to Bath County.
“After two tight innings, the Chargers finally got to our pitching,” Coach Harris said. “Peyton Bailey pitched a strong three innings, but the Bath bats scored six runs within the first three innings. Natalie Tupper and Bailey pitched the final four innings, giving up five more runs and striking out four more batters. Bailey finished with three strikeouts.”
Defensively, Harris said, Panther defense wavered with six errors. “Offensively, the bats were cold and intimidated by the flame-throwing sophomore J.J. Ford of Bath County. Ford struck out 16 Rapp batters.” The opponent’s no-hitter stalled in the seventh when Brittani Dodson smacked an infield single and stole second base.
Overall, the game highlights came from Natalie Tupper (nine strikeouts and three hits), Brittani Dodson (four hits) and Lyndie Paul (two hits). The head coaches chose these three girls to be the All-Tournament award-winners for the day, and Tupper earned Most Outstanding Player for Rappahannock County.
“With the concessions, bake sale and homerun derby,” Coach Harris said, “fans, players and coaches all left the Panther complex happy. I’d like to thank Theresa and Larry Settle, Rhonda Miller, Hedy Paul, Stacy Bailey, Robbie and Kathy Thornhill, Mike and Wanda Early, Mike Tupper and the other many volunteers we had helping. Without their dedication this tournament would have not been a success.”