, 2015

‘Hot-n-Saucy’ NHS Indians
claim 2014 Group 1A state
baseball championship

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

The Northumberland Indians lived up to their team motto at Radford University last Saturday, where the Honaker Tigers found out just how “Hot-n-Saucy” a group of 12 young men from the Northern Neck can be.

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Robin Jett holds up a Hot-n-Saucy sign to cheer on her Indians at last Saturday’s championship at Radford University. Photo by Jacque Jett

The Northumberland Indians lived up to their team motto at Radford University last Saturday, where the Honaker Tigers found out just how “Hot-n-Saucy” a group of 12 young men from the Northern Neck can be.

If there were bets on last Saturday’s Group 1A state championship game at Virginia High School League’s June Jubilee, odds are unbeaten Honaker probably would have been the slight favorite. The Tigers came in with an unblemished record but left as the state runner-up with a 25-1 mark, losing their very first game of the season in the state championship.

The Indians, who capped a none-too-shabby 23-2 season of their own, walked away with a resounding 9-3 win over Honaker to bring the Group 1A state baseball trophy home to Claraville.

And when they did, they received a king’s welcome...or in this case, a champion’s welcome, including a police escort to the school where hundreds of fans gathered to celebrate the school’s first state baseball championship.

“Coming into the season, we knew we had a solid team, pitching and defense,” said coach Johnny Mothershead. “The hitting just came with it.

“A lot of what this championship boiled down to was how the boys played together. They started that hot-n-saucy stuff and we rolled with it and had so much fun with it. But what happened is it turned us into that, into a team that thought we could win a state championship. The talent was always there and it was all about coming together as a team to play.”

The Indians came together to shock the Tigers from southwest Virginia’s Honaker, which had earned a championship berth with a 5-2 win over William Campbell in a semifinal Friday. Blake Walker was the winning pitcher for the Indians in a 12-6 thumping of Auburn in the other semifinal Friday.

On Saturday, Jack Jett came away with the win, going all seven innings for Northumberland with four strikeouts, five allowed hits and nine walks.

Cool and calm under pressure, Jett got out of a few sticky situations with Honaker leaving the bases loaded in two innings. In fact, the Indians rock solid defense turned a double play in the first inning to leave two Honaker runners stranded, had another double play in the third to leave one runner on and made a third double play in the fourth as the Tigers left the bases loaded.

Northumberland scored nine runs on nine hits and four costly Tiger errors.

Jett and Matthew Harris had the big sticks for the Indians. Jett batted 3-for-4 with two doubles and three RBIs and Harris went 2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs. Brandon Walker was 1-for-4 with an RBI.

Northumberland scored two runs in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth, one in the sixth and three security runs in the top of the seventh.

“The big thing was we kept putting pressure on them in all the innings instead of having one big one,” said Mothershead, who ends his sixth season at Northumberland with a state championship.

“Honaker had gained some momentum in the bottom of the sixth, so us scoring three in the seventh was what we needed.”

Zak Kent reached base on a hit and Carter Deihl on an error in the seventh to set up a two-run, two-out double by Harris. Harris scored off a Jett double.

And Jett came to the mound to throw a five-pitch inning in the bottom of the seventh.

On the way to the state title, the Indians also claimed the Conference #43 and Region 1A championships.

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