In The Red Zone: Ken Wakefield

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

CLINCHED: Hanover Baseball, Patrick Henry Softball Earn State Berths....

County teams go two for three in 5A Region Semifinal action Wednesday night, the games that determine who goes to the State Final Four in individual classifications.

HCS Media Network was live in Ashland as Patrick Henry softball clinched their second trip to State Championship Tournament play in three seasons, defeating Stone Bridge 12-0 in the 5A North Region Semifinals. Ironically, Patrick Henry had to defeat Stone Bridge in Ashburn two years ago in the former State Group AAA Quarterfinal round to earn a berth to the Final Four.

The Patriots scored two runs in the first, again giving an early lead to pitching ace Candace Whittemore, who fanned 11 Bulldogs en route to another shutout. Patrick Henry broke the game open with seven runs in the fourth inning, putting the game on ice when Paige Mitchell, who started as a freshman shortstop on the 2012 state runner-up team, launched a grand slam home run over the right-center field fence in the rain to up the lead to 9-0.

Seven of the nine Patriots in the batting order had two hits or more, with Mitchell driving in five runs and Ashley Samuels going three-for-four on the evening. The Patriots move to 17-1 on the season, and will travel to Ashburn again, this time to face Briar Woods for the 5A North Region Championship on Friday night at 6pm. Both Patrick Henry and Briar Woods advance to the 5A State Tournament June 13th in Burke, Virginia at Lake Braddock Secondary School.

Head Coach Shelby Webb, in just her second season, was excited for her team, but most appreciated their workman-like attitude.

"The finality of it all is finally setting in. Players are thinking 'this is do or die'. They've really grasped the concept of 'this is it'. The thing that makes me most excited is their lack of excitement when they win. It shows you know you're not where you want to be yet."

A win this Friday gives Patrick Henry home field in the State Semifinals on June 13th. Three more victories gives them that elusive State Championship.

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Hanover baseball will return to defend their State Group AAA Title after a nail-biting 3-2 win in eight innings at Nansemond River in Suffolk Wednesday night. Derek Casey started for Hanover but got the no-decision as the Hawks saw a 2-1 deficit disappear in the fifth against reliever Hayden Moore. Trevor Denton took over in the sixth, forced a pop out to end a Nansemond River threat with two runners aboard, and pitched the rest of the way for the win.

The Hawks, who play a different style of ball from last year's team that could count on big home runs in key situations, found another way to win as the winning run was scored on a bases loaded walk in the eighth inning. Denton closed out the game, and the trip to states, in the bottom of the frame.

Hanover will face Grafton at home this Friday at 6pm for the 4A South Region Championship. Both teams are in the 4A State Tournament June 13th at Liberty University.

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The Atlee girls soccer team saw their season end Wednesday night as they saw their hopes for Conference 11 glory end last week: at the hands of the defending state champions.

Elizabeth Ball, who scored a golden goal for Deep Run's conference win over the Raiders last Friday, scored twice as the Wildcats eliminated Atlee a game short of the 5A State Tournament 3-2. Kate Lewis and Riley Cook scored for the Raiders, Lewis in the 14th minute to take a 1-0 lead, Cook in the 79th minute for the 3-2 final score. Atlee finishes the season at 17-3.

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