Up 8-0 in the bottom of the fifth at home against Powhatan on Thursday afternoon, the unbeaten Cosby softball team didn’t let up.
“I believe in you 11,” one Titan shouted as No. 11, senior Lauryn Richardson, stepped to the plate with a runner on third base.
Richardson hit a sharp grounder to third. She was thrown out at first, but the run scored, and the Cosby dugout erupted. The Titans (9-0) cruised to a 10-0 victory, but the energy they displayed late in a lopsided contest is indicative of a team on a mission.
“We definitely want to win because we lost our season last year and were really close (to a state title) my sophomore year,” said senior pitcher Taylor Norton, who was in the circle for Cosby softball’s last loss, a 1-0, 17-inning defeat to South County in the 2019 Class 6 state championship.
“Losing our season is what’s pushing us really hard, that’s a chance we didn’t get to have. This is our last chance, so we’re going all out.”
Cosby totaled 13 hits in the game, but many were infield grounders they hustled to beat out. Titans coach Ray Jeter said that hustling down the line was a point of emphasis in the pregame huddle, and something his team prides itself on.
“We didn’t concede, we didn’t give up, we’re going to force it,” Jeter said. “We’re going to sprint down the line to make you hurry up.”
Norton, who’s headed to Villanova, was in control in the circle from start to finish, mixing speeds and locations at will. Her catcher, fellow senior Leah Butts, has played with Norton since they were both 8 years old.
“Leah is so vocal, she is the leader on the field,” Jeter said. “You hear her between every pitch, that’s all she knows.”
The Titans feature an assortment of seniors — Norton, Butts, Richardson, Abby Conner and others — who’ve played together much of their lives. That cohesion is another factor propelling Cosby’s unbeaten run.
“They’ve got each other’s backs,” Jeter said. “All of them, they all get along so great together, the whole team. It’s a trust factor.”
Norton’s trust in Butts and the rest of her teammates is apparent in the calm demeanor she displays in the circle.
“Everyone is really close because we’ve been together a majority of our years,” Norton said. “We’ve all known each other and been friends. It helps having a close relationship.”
For Powhatan (7-3), Jillian Ratliff and Ellie Barton each singled, and Kayla Davis singled and walked.
Senior Laurenne Gallagher had a pair of hits and scored two runs for Cosby. Norton scattered four hits and struck out six. Freshman Ellie Talley tripled, and senior Brooke Tortoriello had two hits and scored three runs for a Titans side Jeter said is “getting (its) mojo” back with three games to go until postseason play.
“Everything is starting to come together,” he said. “This is a shortened season, usually we’re hitting game 19 or 20 right now. So it does kind of have a midseason feel. Them being a veteran team, I think we got to that point a little quicker.”
Powhatan 000 000 x — 0 4 2
Cosby 403 021 x — 10 13 0
W: Norton; L: English
COS: Laurenne Gallagher 2-2, BB, HBP, 2 RS; Taylor Norton 1-4, RS; 7 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 6 Ks; Leah Butts 3-4, 2B, RS, 2 RBI; Brooke Tortoriello 2-4, 3 RS, RBI; Ellie Talley 3-4, 3B, RBI; POW: Kayla Davis 1-2, BB.