GLEN ALLEN—The Mountain View softball team huddled in the shallow part of the outfield at RF&P Park on Friday afternoon.
The Wildcats were hugging, laughing and a few tears were shed as they reflected on a historic season for the program.
Mountain View advanced to the state championship game for the first time in school history.
But on Friday the Wildcats ran into a potent lineup from top to bottom as they were dispatched 13–2 by Stone Bridge in the Class 5 title game.
Afterward Mountain View’s players and coaches were a bit somber but still proud of what they accomplished and optimistic about what the future holds.
“We’re all going to work harder than before and get back here again,” Mountain View sophomore catcher Annaliese Franklin said.
The Wildcats (19–3) should have what it takes to make another run in 2020.
As they were announced to pick up their runner-up medals at the end of the game, only one senior was called. That’s starting first baseman Felicia Preston. The other 13 players on the team are expected back, including standout junior pitcher Jessie Kantor.
“We’ve got one spot to fill and that same awesome group that I have now is coming back,” Wildcats head coach Brianna Worley said. “So it’s exciting to hopefully be here again.”
Worley said the Wildcats’ inexperience was evident against the Bulldogs (25–1), who boasted five seniors in their lineup.
Mountain View hung tough for four innings before Stone Bridge broke open the game with a seven-run fifth.
The Wildcats trailed 1–0 entering the frame and Kantor had limited the Bulldogs to just one hit. That all changed in the top of the fifth, starting with Stone Bridge No. 9 hitter Taylor Coon.
Coon reached base on a walk and later scored on a Mountain View error to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to 2–0.
Olivia Valbak, Emily Sappington and Olivia Smith recorded three consecutive RBI singles before Jordan Thompson punctuated the onslaught with a towering two-run home run over the left field fence for an 8–0 advantage.
Worley said Kantor was “maybe a little bit tired” in the fifth. Kantor said the Bulldogs started finding holes in the defense and “we didn’t play our best.”
Stone Bridge head coach Billy Rice said Coon gave his team a spark as she’s done all season from the bottom of the lineup.
“She won a game early in the season with a home run in the bottom of the ninth,” Rice said. “Ever since then she’s been on fire. She started it. She was kind of the catalyst and then everybody just jumped on her back and got rolling.”
The Wildcats got two of their six hits in the bottom of the sixth inning. That’s also when they scored their first runs of the game as Franklin and Teagan Levesque came across home plate on an error and a wild pitch.
Stone Bridge’s lead was still 10–2 and the Bulldogs added three runs in the top of the seventh to close the scoring.
No Fredericksburg-area softball team has won a state title since Orange did so at the Group AA level in 1998 and ’99. No Stafford County school has won a title since Stafford High captured the Group AAA crown in 1982.
It’s the first softball state title in Stone Bridge’s history. After Rice took over in 2012, the Bulldogs lost 10–9 to Great Bridge in the AAA title game to end his second season.
Rice said it’s going to be a thrill to finally see a softball banner hanging on the gymnasium wall as the school has been dominant in many other sports.
“The one banner that’s missing is softball and now I get to see it up there,” Rice said. “I’m so excited about that.”
EMILY SAPPINGTON, Olivia Valbak (6) and Madeline Carpe. JESSIE KANTOR and Annaliese Franklin.