Veterans lead Nansemond River to third consecutive Class 5 state softball tournament as Granby also advances

Only three key players remain from Nansemond River High’s 2021 Class 5 softball state titlists. All were in championship form Friday as the No. 4 Warriors defeated top-seeded Menchville 16-1 in the Region B semifinals at the Stoney Run Complex, a victory that earned them a third consecutive state tournament berth.

Foremost among them is Cammie Stuffel, whose impressive catalog of hitting numbers this season has established her as one of the best players in Hampton Roads. She added to it Friday with a grand slam to center field that gives her 17 home runs for the season.

That ties her with two other girls for the most in a season in Virginia High School League history.

“I feel like I’ve worked a lot harder,” said Stuffel, a junior who made the All-Tidewater team as a freshman and sophomore. “I’ve gotten into a workout routine where I wake up and lift every morning before school.

“And I’ve gotten to the point where I can feel something is wrong with my swing and I can pick out what’s comfortable and what’s not. It felt amazing to get my first grand slam of the season.

“I finally got the barrel into the right place.”

Cierra Gawryluk has had virtually no problem getting her pitches in the right place this week. After throwing a perfect game in a 5-0 win over Gloucester in the first round, she followed with a six-inning two-hitter in which she struck out 10 and walked just one.

The run she gave up was unearned, as the Monarchs’ Breanna Richardson ended Gawryluk’s region tournament streak of 28 consecutive batters retired by working her for a walk in the third inning. Richardson’s courtesy runner, Peyton Cunningham, scored from first base as the Warriors made two throwing errors on her base-stealing attempt.

But Gawryluk was otherwise dominant as the usually hard-hitting Monarchs (17-3) rarely caught up to her riseball.

“I kept working the rise and it was perfect,” Gawryluk. “I have to thank my catcher, Whitney DeFreitas — she’s one of the best catchers out here.”

Defreitas, the other returning starter from the ‘21 state champs, hits well, too. She had three base hits, scored twice and drove in three runs as the Warriors pounded a pair of Menchville pitchers for 17 hits.

Demetria Burton notched a trifecta of threes with three hits, three runs and three RBIs. Taylor Shreck drove in two runs with two hits, while Kennedy Linhardt hit a solo home run for the Warriors.

“We lost seven seniors last year, and it was really hard, and we didn’t know if we were even going to have a good team this year,” Gawryluk said. “But everyone on this team is always on time and they work really hard every day.

“It’s so amazing (playing in a state tournament for the third consecutive year). I thank God and all of my teammates. We have a lot of young players, but we’ve tried really hard to mesh.”

The Warriors will play Granby for the region title at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Stoney Run. The No. 3 Comets (19-3) beat No. 2 Kecoughtan 21-4 in the other semifinal to earn the region’s other state tournament berth.

Cam Hamilton led the Comets with a pair of two-run home runs. Destiny Harris also hit a two-run homer for Granby, which reached the semifinals a year ago in its first-ever trip to the state tournament.