When coaches go into all-district meetings, offensive statistics are typically the guideline for measuring players against one another.
But the Mountain View softball team may cause Commonwealth District coaches to dig a little deeper in the future.
The Wildcats (18-4) are the last Fredericksburg area team remaining as they prepare to take on Mills Godwin (18-6) in the Class 5 state semifinals today at Glen Allen High School at noon.
Mountain View had the district player of the year in junior pitcher Jessie Kantor.
But designated hitter Kayla Gayle was the Wildcats’ only other first-team all-district performer. Sophomore outfielder Annalise Pudimott was the lone representative on the second-team.
None of that has deterred the defensive-minded Wildcats as they aim for the program’s first ever state title.
“I think we’re showing we deserved more than what we received,” Mountain View head coach Brianna Worley said. “I see them every day so I see 14 standouts. It’s not just about what I think, but they’re showing their worth and they’re doing what they’re supposed to at this point.”
The Wildcats’ success does start with Kantor on the mound. Worley said the junior North Stafford transfer has “completely changed our program” in one season.
But Kantor wouldn’t be nearly as effective without the defense behind her.
Worley said junior shortstop Caroline Pollock “does a great job all around,” while center fielder Caleigh Eberhart has been a boon, as well.
“Caleigh is really quick and she’s made a lot of catches and saved quite a few games for us this year,” Worley said.
Gayle is batting cleanup for the Wildcats. She’s hitting .350 and provides the lineup some offensive punch. Worley said the Wildcats have hit well “situationally” but admits the lineup isn’t littered with thumpers.
“As long as our defense stays strong and we put a few runs on the board to back Jessie, we’re fine,” Gayle said.
The Wildcats have averaged 4.1 runs per game. In the tightly contested contests they’ve mostly relied on Kantor and the defense.
Catcher Annaliese Franklin has also been a key component.
“We all work together really well and we all have different aspects of our game that contribute to the whole team,” Kantor said. “[The defense] is focused every pitch and they’re all very energized. They all keep each other up and they limit every hit they can.”
The Wildcats were able to hold off Orange for a 1-0 victory to reach the Region 5D title game and qualify for the state tournament.
They edged Halifax 3-2 to win the region crown and were able to defeat 5C runner-up Freedom South-Riding 4-1 to set up today’s meeting with Mills Godwin.
Kantor and the defense could have their hands full with the Eagles, who have scored at least eight runs in 13 games this season.
Mills Godwin has won 11 in a row. The Eagles endured a four-game losing streak in April but have bounced back, culminating with a 4-1 win over Menchville in the state quarterfinals last week.
Worley said she believes the Wildcats have “a pretty good shot” if Kantor is locating her pitches and the defense continues to thrive.
“We don’t know that much about them,” Kantor said of the Eagles. “But obviously any team we play from here on out is going to be good. So we’re going to have to keep it tight and play our game.”