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.
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