Lady Panthers upset Mason, prep for Madison

Peyton Bailey, a freshman, prepares to let one fly in a 15-0 shutout of Manassas Park last week. Photo by Hedy Paul.

“Keeping the momentum from our last two games was our goal,” Coach Jamie Harris said after the Rappahannock County High School Lady Panthers aced a first-round rematch with George Mason, 5-0, on the road Monday night

Last night, after press time, they were to meet No. 1 seed Madison in a semi-final at the Mountaineers’ home field.
The Panthers, the No. 5 seed, got a measure of revenge Monday after last week’s upset loss to Mason. Peyton Bailey fired a seven-inning shutout victory, her second shutout in the last three games.

Offensively, Brittani Dodson (two doubles) and Lauren Settle (two doubles) led the offensive charge. Hanna Kopjanski maintained her hot bat with another RBI single.

“I thought we had a great defensive game plan against Mason,” Harris said. “Peyton hit her targets and generated a lot of ground ball outs and pop flies. She came to me first thing that morning and asked to pitch. For a freshman to take that type if initiative says how much she has grown up this season. The defense was amazing and helped get out of two bases load jams. Lauren Settle caught a line drive and turned it into a double play. Allie Dore made several nice catches in centerfield. But the story was Peyton and her poise and control.”

“The game was really nerve-wracking,” Bailey said, “because I haven’t been on the mound a lot this season. I’m just coming up, but I started and got to pitch the entire game.”

Bailey’s most memorable moment came when bases were loaded, with no outs and she had already thrown three balls. “This girl came to the plate and tried to come back. Our defense totally backed me up, and we got the outs. Defense was great,” she said.

Rapp’s standout defensive skills were balanced by their offensive game. “The last time we struggled at the plate with Mason’s pitcher Krista Kelly,” Harris recalled. “She struck us out 10 times. This time we only struck out twice, hit the ball really well, and some of our hits forced errors out of the Mason fielders. Our small game was on as we had several players put down some nice sacrifice bunts to move runners over into scoring positions.”

Next up, the Lady Panthers’ biggest test was to be the district semifinals at the Madison Mountaineers’ field on Wednesday night

“I’m nervous. Madison is ranked No. 1, but I know we have a chance at beating the Mountaineers,” Bailey said.. “We have to be able to swing the bats and make contact. We are all really pumped for Madison. Even though we lost Friday night’s game, we played really well, so it feels like we’re on a winning streak. If we work together, we can win!”

Thursday, May 20M

Rappahannock 15,  Manassas Park 0

With one win and one loss, the Lady Panthers played back-to-back home games last Thursday and Friday against Manassas Park and Clarke County.

About Thursday’s game, Coach Harris thought “we played the best all around game of the season.”

Freshman Peyton Bailey pitched a beautiful game; she struck out nine batters and allowed only two hits.

“Offensively, we have been waiting for a spark, and we finally got it,” Harris said. Hanna Kopjanski led the surge with a 4-4 performance that included two triples, a double, and a single. She also had four RBI’s. Lauren Settle had a triple, double, and a single with five RBI’s. Brittani Dodson and Caitlin Miller both had three hits, and Miller scored four runs. Natalie Tupper and Allie Dore both tallied two hits. Rapp finished the game with 18 hits and 15 runs for the first Panther shut out win of the season.

“Defensively,” Coach Harris said, “Peyton was in complete control on the mound. She did a great job of hitting her locations and generating a lot of ground ball outs. The defense played well behind her, by turning in their first zero error performance of the season.

Seniors Allie Dore, left, and Natalie Tupper (with her father Mike Tupper) accept flowers before last Friday's Senior Night game.

Friday, May 21

Clark 7, Rappahannock 4

Friday night was Senior Night for Allie Dore and Natalie Tupper, so energy was high. At first, it seemed the Ladies picked up right where they left off against Manassas Park. Rapp scored three runs in the bottom of the first against Clarke.

Peyton Bailey also started strong and kept the opposing bats silent. The Eagles finally scored one in the top of the third to make it 3-1.  Clarke was finally able to get to Bailey and the solid Panther defense in the fourth as they scored four runs to take a 5-4 lead.

Coach Harris recounted: “Three straight Panther errors led to the runs, but in the fifth, Natalie Tupper came in to relieve Peyton and with bases loaded got the final outs of the inning.  We got another run in the fifth as Nat led off with a booming double to left field and scored on a Hanna Kopjanksi’s RBI single. From there Clarke changed pitchers and their Sarah Herndon shut down our bats.”

Offensively, Kopjanski was 3-3 (last 2 games 7-7) with three singles, a run, and an RBI. Lauren Settle had two doubles and scored a run. Dore had an RBI single, and Bailey had an single that produced two RBI’s.

“Defensively,” Harris said, “I thought Peyton and Natalie both pitched very well and the defense played very strong, even with the mistakes in the fourth inning. I was very proud of our effort, ’cause the first time Clarke beat us 15-0 and one hit us. We came out ready to play, and I could not have been any prouder of our girls. They gave me everything they had in these last two games.”