Friday, May 20, 2011
By Dan Sousa
Ashburn (May 20, 2011) - When the defending Dulles District champion Briar Woods High School softball team stumbled into Spring Break with a 1-0 loss to Loudoun County on April 15, the Falcons were left with a 5-3 district mark, and not only trailed three teams in the talent-rich softball district, but sat three games in the loss column behind then unbeaten Woodgrove.
To make matters worse, the Falcons with eight freshmen on the 16-player roster, just weren't in synch at games or even practices.
"It was hard to teach routines to eight new players," said Briar Woods coach Jennifer Traina, who along with her coaching staff cooked up a new idea for team chemsitry: each returning Falcon or "Big Sister" was paired up with a freshman or "Little Sister".
They were partners in friendly team competitions. They were vocal supporters and available for advice. And along the way the Falcons started winning and haven't stopped ... winning their final 10 games of the season and eight straight in district, including a 7-0 win over Potomac Falls on Thursday, that not only threw the Dulles District race into a 3-way tie in the final regular season standings with Briar Woods, Broad Run and Woodgrove all 13-3, but the Falcons family walked away with the district's top seed and automatic Region II bid based on
"We have been more united. We just kind of clicked," said senior outfielder/pitcher Kristina Karagiorgis. "In the first half of the season our team was so new. We just had to show the younger players the ropes."
Briar Woods, behind the dominant pitching of junior Macy Jones, has not just been winning but winning big -- out-scoring opponents 92-4 since Spring Break. In fact, the stingy Falcons head into postseason, not having allowed a run in 32 consecutive innings. Jones, with a wicked riser, has been responble for 28 innings during the scoreless streak. She has almost been unhittable, striking out 64 in the last 28 innings and allowing just nine hits. That includes striking out 16 Panthers, both in a 6-0 win on May 9, and in the title clincher, as well as tying her own school mark with 19 strikeouts in a win over Tuscarora on May 13.
Macy Jones postgame after her 3-hitter and 16 strikeouts Thurs.
Offensively, the Falcons have been hitting up and down the line-up -- big sisters and little sisters -- including senior Kasey Ball, who had three RBIs Thursday including a key two-run single in the fourth inning that broke a scoreless tie.
"We have the momentum going. It's the small things that really pick up our team, like our dugout going crazy," said Ball, who noted that after a too quiet first half, the Falcons bench is into full-throated roar these days. "When we returnd from Spring Break, something just kicked in. Everybody is focused."
Briar Woods started their second half comeback with a 7-1 win over Dominion followed by a 5-1 win against Broad Run.
"When we played Broad Run the second time we hit our stride," said Jones.
The Falcons followed that Friday night win over the Spartans with a road trip the next morning to Orange County were they swept Western Albermarle, 20-0, and then handed the host team a 5-1 defeat and their only loss in the regular season.
On a roll now, the Falcons shut down Woodgrove, 5-1, and the last five regular-season games were all shutouts: 10-0 over Park View, 15-0 over Freedom, 6-0 over Potomac Falls, 12-0 over Tuscarora and 7-0 over Potomac Falls. The pair of wins over Potomac Falls, the final coming on Senior Night, gave the Falcons the district title as Woodgrove and Broad Run both split with the Panthers. The three district tri-champs were all 1-1 against each other.
"We really wanted to win this game as it was our Senior Night and these seniors built the program," said Jones. "We either would get first in the district or fourth and that was a big jump."
Scoreless heading into the bottom of the fourth, Jones drew a leadoff walk and Karagiorgis followed with a double down the right field line to give the Falcons runners at second and third. Ball then came through with a two-run single, a line drive to right.
Kasey Ball's 2-run single opens the scoring for BWoods
Potomac Falls pitcher Heather Kiefer was able to strand two runners in scoring position to keep it close but Briar Woods would break the game wide open in the fifth by sending nine to the plate.
Freshman Casey Forbes started the inning by being plunked by a pitch on the helmet. The speedy Forbes then scored on a double by senior Jillian Olson to the right-center gap. Jones, who walked three times and lined out, got another free pass, and Karagiorgis then singled to score Olson for a 4-0 Falcon lead.
Ball then sent a hard grounder that was knocked down at second and the Panthers tried to throw Jones out at the plate but she made nice slide around the tag to increase the lead to 5-0.
The Falcons weren't finished as freshman Caroline Fowler, after a walk loaded the bases with one out, added an RBI single to left that scored but Ball was thrown out at the plate. Still, Briar Woods now was up, 6-0.
Briar Woods closed out the scoring with another run in the sixth. Forbes reached on an error to start the inning, and Olson followed with her second RBI-double of the night -- a deep shot to let field.
The run support was plenty for Jones, who was helped by two great catches in the outfield – a shoestring catch by senior Alex Fierszt for the second out of the second inning and a diving grab by sophomore Lynn Brantley for the final out of the fourth.
Ball finished 2-for-4 with a pair of singles and three RBIs, while Olson went 2-for-4 with two RBI-doubles. Karagiorgis was 2-for-4 with a single, a double and two runs scored.
Forbes reached base three times in four plate appearances and scored twice, while Jones walked three times and also scored twice. In her first career start, senior Tracey Carney singled and walked in three plate appearances.
Jones now has has 241 strikeouts on the season, some 45 better than her school single season mark of 196 set last year as a sophomore.
Macy Jones' 16th strikeout seals the deal for Falcons
Thanks to Chris Starke of Briar Woods softball program for helping provide some of the scoring detail from Thursday's win as well as putting out a college or pro level release on the Falcons after each and every game this season!