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High Hopes for Hornets

Herndon softball winning, but still fine-tuning its game.

The 2008 spring season has been a winning one for the Herndon High girls’ softball team. That made last Friday night’s 2-0 road loss at Concorde District opponent Westfield especially hard to take.

The Hornets did not play as good a game as they have been accustomed to playing.

"We out hit them, but we fell apart late," said Herndon coach Bonnie O’Hearn, whose team finished with six hits to Westfield’s three. "We had some [defensive] errors which really cost us the game. We made mistakes in the field and on the bases."

Westfield scored single runs in both the third and sixth innings to account for the game’s only scoring.

Herndon, even with the loss, still held an impressive 9-2 overall record and a 4-1 mark in district play. The Hornets’ district wins have come over Fairfax (twice), Chantilly and Oakton. It also has non-district victories over Dominion (Sterling) and Stone Bridge. The losses have come to Battlefield High (Manassas), 8-0, and Westfield.

Going into this week, Centreville was atop of the district standings with a 5-0 record, with Herndon right behind at 4-1. The two teams were scheduled to play earlier this week on Monday night at Herndon.

Herndon is receiving an outstanding season from senior center fielder/shortstop Marra Hvozdovic, who is batting .500 from the leadoff spot of the Hornets’ order. She has a homer this season, along with six doubles. She has walked nine times, knocked in 10 runs and scored eight runs. She has struck out just twice.

"She does a great job hitting it [into] right center field and left center field," said O’Hearn, of her top of the lineup hitter.

Also hitting the ball with authority is senior catcher Jasmine Craun, the No. 3 batter in O’Hearn’s order who is batting .485 with six doubles, 12 runs scored and eight RBIs.

<b>KATIE BRIGGS</b>, a senior, has handled most of Herndon’s pitching duties this season. She began the spring as the team’s No. 2 pitcher behind fellow senior Katie Rynex.

But Rynex was injured when she broke an ankle sliding into second base in an early season contest at the Richmond Tournament. Briggs has been pitching ever since. O’Hearn is hopeful that Rynex will return before the end of the season.

Briggs has done a terrific job on the mound for the Hornets with a 2.80 earned run average.

"She’s pitched really well," said O’Hearn. "Our [original] idea was for her to be a [relief] closer. When Katie Rynex got hurt, she came in, stepped up and did a great job. She doesn’t have as much speed [on her fastball] as Rynex."

But Briggs keeps hitters guessing with a screwball pitch that rises and her ability to pitch to the inside of the plate.

Herndon’s most exciting game this season was a 6-5 district home win over Oakton on April 8. The Hornets trailed 5-2 at one point and were down 5-4 before scoring twice in the bottom of the seventh to win. The game-winning hit came from senior outfielder Chelsea Roseberry, who broke a 5-5 tie with an RBI single into right field.

"We were in a hole and we fought back to win it," said O’Hearn, of the comeback win over the Cougars.

O’Hearn said there are times the Hornets hurt themselves with mental mistakes on the field. She believes Herndon has the potential to have a strong postseason in the weeks ahead if it can improve in that area.

"We just need to play smarter," she said. "We have the capability to play a flawless game. We’re just not doing it. And we need to get a set line-up. That has been an issue since Katie Rynex went out. A set line-up will help us out a lot. "