CASTLETON - BFA Fairfax assistant coach Jeff Hamel's pregame speech was one to remember, talking the Bullets through the nerves and building a foundation of positive power just before Taylor Mitchell stepped into the batter's box.
The Bullets' (4) faced the Oxbow Olympians (2) in the D3 title game after upsetting the top-seed White River Valley in the semifinal.
Mitchell earned a free base to get the Bullets started in the top of the first, easily stealing second as cowbells and cheers resounded down the first baseline. A perfect bunt by Jaycee Douglas advanced Mitchell to third, and Mitchell stole home to plate the Bullets' first run.
Mitchell stepped into the circle, exuding confidence, inducing a pop up to third, a grounder to second, and a flyout to left.
Unable to score in the top of the second, the Bullets silenced the Olympians in the bottom of the inning, as Mitchell struck out two and induced a slow roller to first for the final out.
Mitchell beat the throw to first for her second hit of the game, and once again, Douglas' sac bunt advanced Mitchell to second, but the Bullets weren't able to plate the run.
BFA held Lyndon in the third, but the Olympians scored two in the fourth, taking the lead.
In the top of the fifth, Madison Murphy worked a walk, and Taylor Mitchell doubled to the center field wall to score Murphy and tie the game. BFA loaded the bases, but Oxbow worked out of the jam.
Oxbow responded in the bottom of the fifth with a line drive to right that scored the go-ahead run and put a runner at third; a passed ball plated the fourth and fifth runs for the Olympians.
In the top of the sixth, Sarah and Grace Coloney came up with two big hits for the Bullets. Sarah scored on a passed ball, Madison Murphy scored on an overthrow, and Courtney Burnor sent a ground ball through the infield, plating Douglas and tying the game at 5.
The Olympians scored the go-ahead run on a two-out sac bunt in the bottom of the inning; Oxbow went on to plate two more runs, including an in-the-park home run. Mitchell and catcher Sarah Coloney combined to throw out a runner at home for the final out of the inning.
In the top of the seventh, Sarah Coloney ripped a triple to the fence; Grace Coloney hit a double to score Sarah, Murphy was hit by a pitch, and Mitchell worked a walk, but the Olympians earned the final out and the 8-6 win.
"We overachieved in so many ways this year to get to this point. I can't say enough how much these kids battled through adversity. They are role models in courage and resilience," said Bullets' coach Geri Witalec-Krupa.
"We would have loved to win this game; we waited a little late to start hitting the ball, but some kids came up big--the Coloney sisters--back-to-back crushing the ball. I'm so proud of this group; they're sad now, but we told them, don't cry about it being over, be happy because you were here."
Taylor Mitchell threw a complete game allowing 8 runs (5 earned) on 7 hits, walking two, and striking out 9.
Taylor Mitchell and Courtney Burnor had 2 hits; Jaycee Douglas and Grace Coloney each had a hit.