When it counted most, and in the biggest pressure situation, the Madison Warhawks proved they were up to the task of playing well from behind, as well as getting off to usual first-inning playoff leads.
Madison (24-3) scored four runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 7-5 lead in an eventual 7-6 victory over the defending champion Cosby Titans in the championship game of the Virginia High School League’s Class 6 girls softball state tournament. The big blast was a one-out, two-run, line-drive home run to left field by Katrina Swan.
The state championship was Madison’s ninth in program history and third under current head coach Jim Adkins (the others in 2017 and 2018).
The strong-hitting Madison team entered the state final having never trailed in its previous seven postseason games, scoring at least one run, and an average of 3.1 runs, in the first inning of each contest.
“It always helps to play with a lead,” Adkins said. “You can do some things differently then.”
The Warhawks didn’t score against Cosby, though, until plating a run in the third on Ayla Condill’s RBI single to score Rain Castro, who walked and was bunted to second by her sister Rome Castro.
“I was really so nervous, so I’m glad there was just one out. I was able to relax enough, stay smooth with my swing and I hit an inside pitch,” Swan said of her third homer of the season.
Prior to the homer, Graciela Dominguez (double) and Rachel Schlueter had RBI hits in the top of the seventh for Madison to tie the game at 5. Dominguez had two doubles and two RBI in the win.
Sofia Marshall was the winning pitcher in relief of starter Ava Livingston (18-1), striking out the final batter with a runner on third. She fanned three in 2 1/3 innings.
Madison had eight hits, with Dominguez, Schlueter and Swan having two each and Marshall and Condill one each. Swan was the 6D North Region Player of the Year.
“Katrina came through in the biggest way,” Adkins said. “Our players hung in there and battled back all game long.”
Madison was 3-0 in the state tournament and 8-0 in the postseason. The Warhawks defeated Lake Braddock, 6-1, in the first round of the state tourney, then Manchester, 11-4 in the semifinals.
The Warhawks had 14 hits against Manchester, led by three each from Dominguez, Rome Castro and Marshall (three RBI), and two each from Condill and Swan. Livingston had one hit.
Livington pitched a complete-game five-hitter with four strikeouts to get the win.
The Warhawks were successful bunting a lot against Manchester.
“We had an approach in mind today and we executed it and we were able to put the barrel of the bat on the ball very well,” Adkins said.
Madison batters struck out only once in the win, and catcher Schlueter threw out two runners trying to steal.
Against Lake Braddock, Dominguez and Rain Castro each had two hits; Schlueter and Anna Mack doubled; Marshall, Swan and Livingston all had one hit and one RBI; and Condill had a hit.
Livingston threw a complete game to get the win. She allowed just two hits, struck out four, walked one and the run was earned.
NOTES: The state title capped a triple crown of championships for Madison this season. The team earlier won the Concorde District and 6D North Region tournaments (15th in program history) . . . In eight postseason games, Madison batters struck out only 21 times, or an average of 2.6 per game. The Warhawks fanned just once in two contests.