Amid the sweat, tears, and unmitigated jubilation, Nealan Chandler did his very best Saturday afternoon to express his emotion in the wake of his Prince George Royals’ 11-4 triumph over Brooke Point in the Class 5 state championship softball game.
Facing a bank of television cameras, the fifth-year head coach first complimented the eight seniors who had carried their teammates to a 23-1 record and the first state softball title in school history.
As he was beginning to explain his squad’s dominance on this sticky, 80-degree day at Glen Allen, he sensed a flurry of activity behind him, glanced over his left shoulder, and said with a smile, “We’re about to get wet. Get out of the way!”
He stepped quickly away, but not quickly enough to evade the celebratory dousing that comes after all those long practices, bus rides, sun baked days, and — mainly — dreams.
“It’s an incredible feeling,” he said a few minutes later, the words still catching in his throat. “The work that these ladies have put in is incredible.”
“Incredible” might also describe the top-of-the-first, seven-run blitzkrieg that included doubles to deep centerfield by Madison Quesenberry and Laura Thompson, both of which sent two runs home.
“We had to come out and hit,” Chandler said. “We knew they’d pitch us middle-away. She (Noelle Sterner) really went away on everybody. I thought we took a good approach. We were quick. We took advantage of our speed. We had a couple of big hits as well.”
Brooke Point’s Madi Marsden hit a two-run triple down the rightfield line in the bottom of the first, but in the top of the second the Royals answered with RBI singles by Caitlin Abernethy and Haley Godfrey.
The Royals added a run in the third (Sarah Thompson’s single to right scored her twin sister Laura) and in the sixth when Brooke Loving, who had reached base on a double, crossed the plate on an infield out.
“We picked our pitch,” said S. Thompson (3-for-4, one run, one RBI). “We chose it right. We had to keep putting runs on the board. We could never settle.”
Righthander Laura Thompson pitched a complete game, allowed five hits, walked four, and struck out 12.
After BP’s Nicole Lucia drilled a two-run home run over the 200-foot right center fence in the third, she limited the Black Hawks to two hits while her teammates backed her effectively in the field.
“My fastball was really working,” Laura Thompson said, “and the curveball and the rise ball were all right.
“Having the mentality to stay up was really important. Knowing that this would be our last game, I had to stay strong. I’m really thankful for my teammates. My teammates needed me, and I needed them.”
Prince George 721 001 0 — 11 9 1
Brooke Point 202 000 0 — 4 5 2
W — L.Thompson. L — Sterner. Records: PG 23-1. PB 21-3