Determined Lady Kavs win VCC title

Published 9:40 am Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Kenston Forest School freshman pitcher Shelby Gunn summed up her team on the field of victory Thursday evening at Dinwiddie Sports Complex.

“We’re young,” she said, taking a pause before adding, “but we’ve got it.”

Kenston Forest’s young varsity softball team overcame talented Southampton Academy in the Virginia Colonial Conference (VCC) tournament semifinals May 8 and then held steady in a back-and-forth final against archrival Brunswick Academy on Thursday to emerge as champions.

Gunn provided insight into what gave the Lady Kavaliers the edge against older, more experienced teams.

“We’re determined,” she said. “We want to win.”

After Kenston Forest took a 6-1 lead against Brunswick in the championship game, the Lady Vikings came roaring back and took the lead.

But the Lady Kavs’ offense kept doing what it did throughout the tournament and at the beginning of the game.

“We started out on top,” Kenston Forest Head Coach Jannon Coley said, explaining what gave her team the edge against Brunswick. “We were hitting just phenomenally in the beginning and just kept on getting it, and I think that’s probably what took us through, so I definitely think with that in our favor, we were ready. We were ready yesterday, beating Southampton, so we hit the ball very well.”

The win over Southampton was in marked contrast to Kenston Forest’s two regular season contests against the Lady Raiders.

“Both times we played them we never scored, and yesterday, we started out on top and stayed that way,” Coley said.

The championship game, the Lady Kavaliers recorded 12 hits.

In the circle, Gunn pitched four-and-one-third innings, allowing six hits and nine runs while throwing four strikeouts. Junior Rachel Tucker pitched the rest of the game.

Gunn was selected by the Kenston Forest coaching staff to be the tournament MVP, and Coley said it was because of her pitching. She noted that Gunn had pitched 22 of her team’s 30 games, and the Lady Kavs have a record of 23-7.

“Hands down, we couldn’t have won some of the games we had if we didn’t have her pitching,” Cole said.

Reacting to receiving the MVP honor, Gunn said, “It was pretty cool. I love our team.”

The title win was particularly special for a key newcomer to Kenston Forest’s team this year — junior shortstop Peyton Coleman. She transferred in from Brunswick, having played and starred for the Lady Vikings last year.

“It was huge being able to start with a new team and get the same exact bond that I had from my old one, immediately feeling like, ‘This is our family,’” Coleman said, “And so being able to beat my old team felt pretty awesome.”

Her comments offered further insight into what powered her new team to the VCC title.

“We’re definitely a team,” she said. “Like I said, this is my first year playing with them, and the bond is insane. We all believe in each other, and there’s no doubt in our mind once we step on the field that we’ve got it — together.”

Lady Kavaliers joining Gunn on the all-tournament team were eighth-grader Avery Tucker, sophomore Berkley Rose and eighth-grader Mackenzie Newcomb.

Coley, sharing what it meant to win the VCC title, said, “It’s really sweet,” noting it was one of the team’s goals all year long. “And so our next thing is win states, so that’s what we worked on, so I’m very proud of them. They did very, very well.”

Kenston Forest hosted Broadwater Academy on Tuesday in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association Division III state quarterfinals. A win in that game would setup a rematch with Brunswick in the state semifinals Thursday at 5 p.m. at RF&P Park in Glen Allen.