A picture can be worth a thousand words. The image of Warhill sophomore softball player Maddy Bradshaw, arms outstretched Wednesday in the first inning as if the Lions had just won the World Series of Softball, needs further explanation.
First, know that each of Warhill's players will have a chance to do their best Bradshaw imitation next Saturday in the 3A state tournament. The Lions clinched a second-consecutive VHSL Spring Jubilee berth Wednesday in the 3A East semifinals, topping Skyline High of Front Royal behind Keely Rochard's no-hitter, before winning the region title, 1-0, over Park View on Thursday.
Back to Bradshaw, Rochard's regular pinch runner.
Bradshaw's moment of triumph came Wednesday against Skyline, just after touching home plate to open the game's scoring, the first of seven runs in a shutout win.
The day prior in an 8-0 win over Tabb, Bradshaw tripped and fell down as she rounded third base on a Makayla Fannin base hit. The tumble, which was caught on video that Bradshaw later posted online, cost the Lions a run. She recovered to nearly score in time, but Fannin was thrown out at third base going for a triple to end the inning.
Warhill coach Tom Bunn was furious. Every run is precious for an offense that hasn't exactly been slugging it, instead counting on Rochard's lights-out right arm.
But Bunn's reaction Thursday mirrored Bradshaw's when she trotted across home to make up for the earlier miscue, to the delight of the Lions' dugout.
"You did it," Bunn yelled from third base.
"I wasn't laughing about it Tuesday," he later quipped.
Warhill (23-1) had only one hit Thursday, Olivia Schulz's double to score Jewel Walters in the fourth inning. Rochard made sure that was all Warhill needed, scattering seven hits and striking out five. Wednesday, the Virginia Tech junior recruit fanned 15 in the no-no, a game that lasted little over an hour.
Park View is headed to states alongside the Lions and features a pitcher, Odicci Alexander, that Bunn had a lot of praise for. Warhill managed only one run against her in the previous matchup in the Conference 25 championship that also went to the Lions 1-0.
Warhill and Park View will be joined by two-time reigning champion Brookville as well as Broadway.
Brookville which knocked off Warhill in the state semis last season, features ace left-hander Jordan Dail, who Bunn coaches with Williamsburg Starz Gold. Like Rochard, her travel teammate, she's a junior headed to Virginia Tech.
"A lot of us went to states last year and that's when we lost," senior outfielder Jewel Walters said Tuesday, "so we really have that drive to get there this year and we're just working really hard in practice and really just trying to keep it together until states and push all the way through."
In practice, offense will be the focus for Warhill leading into Lynchburg, where every base will count.
"You wouldn't know it based on yesterday's score," Bunn said Friday, "but offense has been the focus for months. We just have to make sure we do the little things ... We better expect in those 1-0 games, those things often make the difference in who wins and loses."
WARHILL 7, SKYLINE 0
Skyline 000 000 0 — 0 0 0
Warhill 012 013 x — 7 13 1
WP: Rochard. LP: T. Grayson. Standouts: Warhill, Rochard (no-hitter, 15 strikeouts), O. Schulz 3-4 (2 runs, 2 RBI), Davis 2-3 (1 run, 1 RBI).
WARHILL 8, TABB 0
Tabb 000 000 0 — 0 2 0
Warhill 001 340 x — 8 12 0
WP: Rochard. LP: Gore. Standouts: Warhill, Rochard (7 strikeouts), Walters 2-4 (3 RBI), O. Schulz 2-3 (1 RBI), McClure 2-3 (1 RBI).
Holtzman can be reached by phone at 757-298-5830.