Saturday, June 09, 2012

"3-2" Doesn't Payoff For Patriots; Cosby Snares Title...

Pardon the Patrick Henry Patriots if they cringe from this day forward every time they hear a final score of 3-2.

In early May, their undefeated season went by the boards due to a 3-2 defeat at Hanover.  After winning the rest of the way in the regular season, the Colonial District tournament, and the first two games of the Central Region tourney, Patrick Henry became the last county team to square off against the Cosby Titans in the title game a week ago in Prince George.  After holding a 2-0 lead most of the evening, Cosby roared back with three runs in the sixth inning to snare the Region crown....3-2.

And so it would be that the Central Region would dominate the first two rounds of the State Group AAA Tournament this week.  Cosby breezed past Oakton in the quarters Tuesday and crushed Broad Run 10-2 in Friday's first semifinal at Westfield High School in Chantilly.  Patrick Henry traveled to Stone Bridge in Ashburn and shut out the team with the most wins in the state (24) on Tuesday, then used Katie Woody and Sam Moore home runs, and the one-hit pitching of Emma Mitchell, to breeze past Osbourn Park, 7-0.

In the state championship game, there would be some cases of role reversal.  This time, Cosby got on the board in the first inning, scoring a run on three straight hits to start the bottom of the frame.  Meagan Jones singled to left, Ellen Sweat slapped a bunt into no man's land near shortstop for a hit, then Chelsea Whitcomb laced a double to right center scoring Jones for a 1-0 lead.  Mitchell settled down, retiring the next three batters on a strikeout, foul out to third and ground out to keep the Titan lead at a run.

The Patriots had a very hard time getting the offense going against Whitcomb on the mound.  Chelsea, a sophomore, allowed only two batters to reach base in the first five innings (a walk and a HBP).  Cosby added to their lead in the bottom of the fifth when Bridgett Blakeley scored on an Ellen Sweat single.  Blakeley had opened the inning with a double.

Patrick Henry Coach Matt Crowder told his girls going into the sixth inning, "This is the inning where they got us last week.  Let's get them this time."  The Patriots responded to his clarion call.

After Ellen Davidson smoked a liner that was snagged out of the air by Whitcomb, saving a sure single to center, Paige Mitchell got the first PH hit of the day on a single to right.  Allison Tingler's grounder to third was bobbled, the error allowing Tingler to reach base.  Sam Moore popped out and Katie Woody stepped to the plate, two on with two out...down two runs.

Woody responded, sending the ball to the wall in the gap in left center for a two-run double, scoring Mitchell and Tingler.  The game was suddenly tied, the Patriot fans on their feet, the PH dugout rejuvenated.  Madison Gilman grounded out to strand Woody and end the inning.

Cosby went in order in the sixth, as did Patrick Henry in the top of the seventh as Whitcomb posted two of her five strikeouts in the frame.  The Titans entered the bottom of the seventh ready to claim the state crown.

The first two Cosby batters were retired by Emma Mitchell, but number nine hitter Sam Quinn reached on an infield single at second to open the door for the dangerous Titan top of the order.  Meagan Jones slapped  an infield single.  Then Ellen Sweat walked to load the bases, and up stepped Chelsea Whitcomb.

Five weeks earlier, Hanover County softball fans will recall Whitcomb stepping up with the bases loaded in the 7th inning at Atlee with the Raiders holding a 1-0 lead.  Whitcomb launched a grand slam home run and the Titans won 4-1.

Emma Mitchell bore down, and with everything on the line, induced Whitcomb to ground to Ashley Samuels at second who threw her out, and we went to extra innings.

Both teams went down in order in both the eighth and ninth, save a Madison Gilman single.  Two defensive gems of note for the Patriots included a double play spearheaded by Ashley Samuels to end the 8th inning, tagging out Alex Beyer, who had walked, then throwing out Holly Stargardt at first.  To open the 9th, left fielder Ellen Davidson made a nice running catch on a would-be hit by Karie Burgess.

With one out in the top of the 10th, sophomore center fielder Kendall Thomas laid down a perfect bunt in front of Whitcomb to reach base.  Davidson's sacrifice attempt fell short, as Whitcomb was able to throw to second for the force out on Thomas, while Davidson reached first.  Then Paige Mitchell smacked a single into center.  Davidson attempted to reach third base, but the throw by center fielder Meagan Jones was on target and she was tagged out at third to end the inning.  The defensive stop seemed to spark the Titans into the bottom of the 10th, as their top of the order was due up.  Their top three, to that point, were responsible for six of their eight hits through nine innings.

Jones began the frame sending a double down the right field line.  Ellen Sweat was intentionally walked to create force play situations, though it meant Whitcomb coming to the plate.  Chelsea grounded out to short, advancing the runners to second and third.  The Patriots then intentionally walked Savanna Ols to load the bases, playing with the hopes of inducing two outs and utilizing the option of a force at home plate on a ground ball.

But, instead, on Emma Mitchell's 147th pitch of the game, Beyer got enough bat on the ball to bounce a single into short right field.  It would be Mitchell's last pitch as a Patriot.  Jones scored the winning run and the celebration commenced for the Titans.  The Patriots dejectedly walked toward the third base dugout to prepare for the traditional post-game handshakes.

Patrick Henry would not be hurt by a costly error in this game with Cosby, as the Titans were the only ones to commit a miscue, and only one at that.  It was a well played defensive game from both teams.  Whitcomb scattered five hits, striking out four, walking just one, Paige Mitchell to open the game.  Mitchell struck out six Titans, walked three and gave up three runs on ten hits.

"We just didn't have the answer for their 1-2-3 hitters," Crowder told reporters after the post-game ceremonies.  "It was just like the last game.  It's very disappointing."

Crowder later spoke, with much emotion, of how proud he was of this team, their accomplishments in 2012, how they never quit in the championship game, and waxed particularly eloquent about his departing seniors.

"I realized today that this was the last time I'd write names like Tingler and Gilman in the lineup.  You get so used to it," Crowder opined.

Patrick Henry finishes the best season in school history at 23-3, as Colonial District Champions, Central Region Runner-Up, and now, State Group AAA Runner-Up, as well as the home of the Region Pitcher of the Year in the UVA-bound Mitchell.

But the last taste of the season was a bitter pill to swallow, for fans, parents, grandparents, and especially for the players and coaches.  As time proceeds, though, that taste will wither away, and the lasting emotions and memories will be of pride, excellence, and the making of a family.

As one player tweeted after the game, "...we weren't just a team, we were a family!"

A family that has etched their place in Patrick Henry athletic history as the best softball team to ever grace the diamond in Ashland.

Friday, June 08, 2012

PH Softball: A Walk In The (Osbourn) Park....

It was a surprisingly easy night for Patrick Henry in the Group AAA State Softball Semifinals.

An Allison Tingler double and a titanic Katie Woody home run opened the scoring in the first inning, putting the Patriots up 2-0.  It would be all Emma Mitchell would need.

In arguably her best game of 2012, Mitchell struck out the first six batters she faced, didn't allow a base runner until an error allowed an Osbourn Park Yellow Jacket to reach first with two out in the sixth inning (she would later be picked off by Madison Gilman), and gave up one lone hit, an infield single in the seventh which really could have been scored an error when Ashley Samuels' throw from the backhand position went into the ground at first, as Osbourn Park never had a chance.  Patrick Henry's 7-0 win over the Northwest Region runner-up improved the Patriots record to 23-2.

There's only one game to go.

It will be a rematch of last Saturday's Central Region Championship in the State Championship Saturday at 2pm when Patrick Henry once again faces Cosby.  The Titans slipped past Patrick Henry 3-2 last week to win the Central Region title, the tying and winning runs coming in after a rare Patrick Henry error.

When asked about what they learned from last week's game with the Titans that will help them get over the hump to win Saturday, some players had ideas....

"We need to be on.  If Emma can pitch like she did tonight and as long as we play defense, we can win," catcher Madison Gilman said.

"Try to remember the batters and what they did," Emma Mitchell replied.

And Katie Woody?  She was part of the error that opened the gates for Cosby's comeback last week.  Her words were maybe the most profound.

"I need to relax, and let the game come to me," Woody said just before a community meeting of coaches, players and parents after the game.

Patrick Henry has looked extremely confident this week, bouncing back from the Cosby loss to win two state playoff games by a combined score of 11-0.  A continued high level of performance by the Patriots, will make it difficult for the Titans, as hot as they've been playing in the second half of the season, to put the Patriots away a second time.

With Mitchell battling Cosby sophomore sensation Chelsea Whitcomb for the second time in eight days, this game promises to be a classic.  One thing is certain: for the second year in a row, the Central Region will win the State Championship.  The question is, will Patrick Henry join their county brethren as state title winners? Atlee won it all in 2002, Hanover in 2006, and Lee-Davis just one year ago.

The Patriots are one stellar performance away from making all of their dreams come true.

FOLLOW @hanoversports on Twitter for LIVE TWEET COVERAGE of the State Final.  First pitch is set for 2pm.

If you cannot make the trip to Chantilly for the game but will be on a laptop or PC, you should be able to watch streaming coverage of the game via

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Directions To Westfield High For PH Softball!!

Driving directions to Westfield High School
Ashland, VA
1. Head east on England St toward Maple St
0.9 mi
2. Continue onto E Patrick Henry Rd
0.3 mi
3. Turn left to merge onto I-95 N
61.0 mi
4. Take exit 152B to merge onto VA-234 N/Dumfries Rd toward Manassas
14.3 mi
5. Turn right onto VA-294 E/Prince William Pkwy
2.0 mi
6. Continue onto Liberia Ave
1.7 mi
7. Turn right onto Virginia 28 N/Centreville Rd
Continue to follow Virginia 28 N
7.9 mi
8. Take the Westfields Blvd exit toward Co Rd 662
0.2 mi
9. Keep left at the fork to continue towardWestfields Blvd
0.2 mi
10. Keep right at the fork and merge ontoWestfields Blvd
0.4 mi
11. Turn right onto Stonecroft Blvd
1.6 mi
12. Turn left
Destination will be on the left
0.2 mi
Westfield High School
Sully, VA

Patrick Henry Crosses Stone Bridge, Finds Final Four!

Patrick Henry's softball team entered uncharted and dangerous territory Tuesday night, forced on the road after falling 3-2 to Cosby in the Central Region final.  Their opponent: Stone Bridge, the Northern Region champions who owned the most victories in the state coming into the quarterfinals with a record of 24-2.

After a 100-plus mile road trip, the Patriots arrived, relaxed and ready.  On the field, they returned to flawless defense and found timely hitting in the latter innings.  Combined with the four-hit shutout performance of ace Emma Mitchell, Patrick Henry upended the Bulldogs on their home field 4-0, advancing to Friday's State Group AAA Semifinal.  It will be their first-ever trip to softball's final four.

After both teams missed scoring opportunities during the first four innings, the Patriots struck first in the fifth, taking advantage of three Stone Bridge errors, scoring one run.  They added a run in the top of the sixth when Hunter Glave blooped a single to right, scoring Sam Moore.

PH took the field for the bottom of the sixth in the exact same position they found themselves in the Cosby regional final, up 2-0, six outs away from a win, and facing the top of the opponent's order.  This time, the Patriots came through with flying colors.  The Bulldogs managed a two-out threat in the sixth on a single and a walk, but Mitchell then coerced the next batter to ground right back to the mound, stranding both runners.

The Patriots then added extra protection in the seventh when Ellen Davidson and Paige Mitchell both scored after Moore blasted a double down the left field line to the wall.  Mitchell allowed one double in the seventh, but retired the other three batters she faced.

Stone Bridge finishes the season at 24-3, while Patrick Henry improves to 22-2.  They will face Osbourn Park, the Northwest Region runner-up who also won on the road Tuesday night, upsetting Eastern Region champion Great Bridge 6-4, in the 7pm semifinal Friday night at Westfield High School in Chantilly.  The other semifinal, at 4pm, will pit Cosby, 6-1 victors over Oakton, and Northwest Region champion Broad Run, who held off Hickory 2-1.  Tickets for the game Friday are $10.00 at the gate.  If the Patriots win Friday, they will play for the state championship Saturday at 2pm at Westfield.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Directions to Stone Bridge for PH State Softball Quarterfinal!

Use this link for directions to Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, where Patrick Henry will play in the State Group AAA Softball Quarterfinals Tuesday night at 7pm.

If you cannot make the game, we will LIVE TWEET the action Tuesday night on Twitter: @hanoversports

Cosby Comeback Snares Title From Patriots....

3-2 has not been a kind final score to Patrick Henry softball.....

Prior to Saturday's Central Region Championship game, the Patriots had only one loss on the ledger, 3-2 at Hanover in early May.  Cosby had a 2-1 record against Hanover teams going into the game, losing to Lee-Davis in early April, getting a comeback road win over Atlee in early May, and their 3-1 win over Lee-Davis in the Regional Semis.

Starters Emma Mitchell and Chelsea Whitcomb would make things tough on batters all evening long.  And, after surviving an early error on defense, Patrick Henry hit the board in their half of the 1st inning.

Paige Mitchell walked, then Allison Tingler singled.  A sacrifice bunt from Sam Moore advanced the runners to 2nd and 3rd for Katie Woody, who grounded to first.  The ball was mishandled by Jen Helms, and Mitchell raced home for the game's first run.

Madison Gilman was next to the plate and popped a fly ball to center.  Cosby center fielder Meagan Jones threw a bullet to the plate as Allison Tingler came home, barely eluding the tag of catcher Holly Stargardt, and the Patriots were up 2-0.

The Titans went down in order in the second and only got a runner as far as second base once through the first four innings.  But when the Patriots got runners on 2nd and 3rd in the bottom of the fourth but couldn't push them across, the cracks began.

A 1-2-3 fifth inning by Emma Mitchell gave the Patriots more confidence.  The sixth would be much different.  Leadoff hitter Jones started with a single up the middle.  Ellen Sweat followed with a "through the eye of a needle" single just missing the gloves of both Moore at 3rd and Paige Mitchell at shortstop.  Then, Chelsea Whitcomb stepped to the plate and helped her own cause, singling to left, plating Jones to make it 2-1.

Then came the play of the game.  Savanna Ols grounded a ball to first.  The Patriots uncharacteristically mishandled the easy play at first, giving Sweat time to come home to tie the game.  In the ensuing action, Whitcomb was waved home, where she beat the throw to the plate, causing a collision with catcher Madison Gilman.  Suddenly, and jarringly, the Titans were ahead 3-2.  A gem of a double play by Ashley Samuels on a lineout and throw to Moore at 3rd to double up Ols ended the inning, but the damage was done.

With one out in the sixth, Gilman was hit by a pitch.  Hunter Glave's liner to third was mishandled by Cosby, and there were runners on 1st and 2nd.  But Samuels would ground to Whitcomb for the force at third base for the second out, then Kendall Thomas grounded out to short, ending the threat, but not the game.

The Patriots breathed life once more in the home half of the seventh when Paige Mitchell hit the only extra-base hit of the game, a double to the left-center field wall with one out.  Allison Tingler's groundout to the pitcher Whitcomb advanced the speedy Mitchell to 3rd with two out and power hitter Sam Moore coming up.  Moore battled, but, in the end, lifted a fly ball to left which was snagged by Cosby left fielder Alex Beyer, and the celebration began for the Titans players and coaches.

"The wheels came off the wagon in the sixth," said Patrick Henry Head Coach Matt Crowder.  "We had to get the top of their order out, and we didn't."

Emma Mitchell finished with four strikeouts, one walk, allowing three runs on four hits.

Patrick Henry will travel to Stone Bridge High School to play the Bulldogs, Northern Region Champions, Tuesday night at 7pm.  We will post directions to Stone Bridge here!

State Track & Field--Day 2 FINALS!

Travis Phillips of Patrick Henry finished 2nd in the 110 Meter Hurdles finals at 14.03!
Jessica Shelton of Patrick Henry finished 4th in the 100 Meter Hurdles finals at 14.34!
Carly Feyerabend of Atlee placed 4th in the Girls High Jump finals at 5 feet, 4 inches!
Molly Breidenbaugh of Hanover placed 9th in the Girls 3200 Meter finals at 11:01.56!
Nathaniel Hall of Atlee placed 6th in Boys 1600 Meters at 4:19.81!
Mackenzie Scott of Hanover placed 7th in Girls 300 Meter Hurdles at 44.85!
Dre Bennett of Atlee placed 3rd in Boys 300 Meter Hurdles at 38.77!
Travis Phillips of Patrick Henry placed 5th in Boys 300 Meter Hurdles at 39.05!
Griffin Carmichael of Atlee placed 5th in Boys 800 Meters at 1:55.19!
Cole Stout of Atlee placed 9th in Boys Shot Put at 50 feet, 5 1/4 inches!
Austin Cannon of Atlee placed 10th in Boys Shot Put at 50 feet, 2 inches!
Atlee Boys Team finishes 8th in Team Competition with 27 points!

REMINDER: For real time updates from tonight's softball regional championship between Patrick Henry and Cosby, follow us on Twitter!

@hanoversports is our Twitter handle!  Click on the Courthouse picture to the right to go to our Twitter page!

Friday, June 01, 2012

State Track & Field Championships Day One Headlines....

NOTE: Meet Schedule Changes for Day 2: Friday's events concluded with the prelims of the 100 meter dash and the girls discus yet to begin and the finals of the girls long jump yet to start. Tomorrow, the 400 meter dash, 300 meter hurdles, and 200 meter dash will be reseeded and run as sections on time while the girls discus will begin at 8 AM on Saturday and the girls long jump finals will precede the start of the girls triple jump on Saturday morning.

Travis Phillips of Patrick Henry qualified 3rd in Boys 110 Meter Hurdles...
Jessica Shelton of Patrick Henry qualified 4th in Girls 100 Meter Hurdles...
Cole Stout of Atlee finished second in boys discus!
Austin Cannon of Atlee finished eighth in boys discus!
Atlee Boys 4 X 800 Relay Team finished fourth in finals!

Atlee Boys Team currently second in points after four events with 14, behind Tallwood with 16....

Softball Title Game POSTPONED

Due to threatening severe weather, including the Tornado Watch in effect for all of Metro Richmond until 9pm, the Central Region Softball Championship Game between Patrick Henry and Cosby has been POSTPONED until Saturday at 5pm at Prince George High School.