New arms leading Lady Warriors
Nansemond River’s head softball coach, Tim Tarafas, knew he’d have a chore ahead of him this season trying to replace standout pitcher Jenna Bryant.
Bryant was the Lady Warrior ace for the last three seasons and last season, the Lady Warriors had an 11-7 record in the tough Southeastern District but came up one game short of reaching the district playoffs.
Normally, needing a new pitcher would have a varsity softball coach nervous. Not so with Tarafas a bit more than a week before NR’s season gets going. His problem isn’t finding a pitcher, but deciding how to best use three pitchers he feels confident in.
Senior Rachel Hawks, junior Randi-Jo Coffey and freshman Sydney Glover are each capable of leading the Lady Warriors in the circle, says Tarafas.
“We’re just trying to find the best gel for the team. We should be in good shape,” Tarafas said.
“It’s really coming down to seeing what gives us the best look defensively, because all three play other positions very well, too,” Tarafas said.
Coaching the pitchers on the field will be senior catcher Anna Cain. Cain’s the biggest reason of all Tarafas can have confidence heading into the season.
“We’ve got the best catcher in the region,” Tarafas said, and he’s simply stating a fact as Cain made the All-Eastern Region Team last spring.
Five newcomers are on the Lady Warrior roster; four come from Nansemond River’s JV squad.
“All four are hitters. When we were picking the team, we selected them primarily for their hitting,” Tarafas said.
Early in the season, Nansemond River lost a one-run, 11-inning game against Western Branch. In the season finale, Nansemond River could’ve earned a district playoff spot, but the Lady Warriors lost a one-run, eight-inning game to Great Bridge. Great Bridge went on to win the Group AAA state championship.
“We had games where one more hit would’ve put us over the top,” Tarafas said.
On one hand, Tarafas calls this season, his second year coaching the Lady Warriors, “more of a rebuilding year than last year.”
Nevertheless, with NR coming so close to the postseason last season, “the only goal is the top four (in the district). If we get to play more than 18 games, that means we’re on the right track,” Tarafas said.
One loss for the Lady Warriors is Stephanie Tarafas, the coach’s daughter. Tarafas, a senior, has accepted a full scholarship to play field hockey, goalie specifically, at James Madison starting in the fall.
The waiting scholarship and upcoming duty on the Junior U.S. National Field Hockey Team for a tour of Argentina means sitting out the softball season was the best decision, even if it makes her dad’s job more difficult.