Kiandra Mitchum is a warrior. Her gutsy 152-pitch performance Wednesday night, combined with the timely hitting and defense of Brooke Throckmorton, led Hanover to a 3-2 upset victory at home over previously unbeaten Patrick Henry.
"Our team did a fantastic job in execution tonight," said Hanover Head Coach Brian LeTourneau. "It's tough to get swings and misses on (Patrick Henry). Kiandra kept her composure, kept the ball down in the zone, and was as cool as the other side of the pillow."
She had to be. Patrick Henry never went down in order in any inning, leaving 13 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the first after taking an early 1-0 lead. Paige Mitchell began the game with a bloop single, stole second two batters later, went to third on a single by Katie Woody, and scored when Madison Gilman laced a single to left.
Hanover answered in the bottom of the frame, with Erica Barrett leading off with a single to center, advancing to second on the first of three sacrifice bunts on the night by Mitchum, then scoring on Brooke Throckmorton's seeing eye single into left field to tie the game.
Mitchum, who threw 69 pitches in a five-inning win over Highland Springs Tuesday night, threw 51 pitches in the first two innings alone Wednesday night, 74 in the first three. The Patriots constantly put runners on base, but for four straight innings, she and the Hawks defense kept the Patriots from crossing the plate.
Hanover finished their scoring in the third with two runs. A key play was a lead-off walk to Barrett by Patriots ace Emma Mitchell. Barrett fell behind in the count 0-2, battled through the at-bat, and drew the walk. Mitchum again sacrificed Barrett to second on a bunt, then Throckmorton struck again, hitting a double to the gap in right-center to score Barrett. Throckmorton would later score when Maura Long's fly ball to deep right went into, then out of the glove of Patrick Henry's Allison Tingler.
The Patriots left two on base in the fourth and fifth, then cut the Hawks lead in half in the sixth. Ellen Davidson led off with a single to right, then scored three batters later when Tingler blasted a triple to right field. But the Patriots stranded Tingler, the tying run, at third.
In the seventh, Madison Gilman led off with a ground ball that bounced off Lynsee Caler's glove at third base into the glove of shortstop Shauna Kirby, whose throw to first base beat Gilman by a half-step. Mitchum then fell behind, giving back-to-back walks to Ashley Samuels and pinch-hitter Hunter Glave. Davidson grounded out to Mitchum, advancing the runners to second and third. Kendall Thomas stepped to the plate. The Patriots center fielder already had two hits on the night, but Mitchum dug deep, and, on her 152nd pitch of the game, got Thomas to swing and miss for the strikeout, and the celebration began on the third base side of the field.
Adding to the emotions of the night was the return to the dugout of star pitcher/slugger Shannon Albright, out for the season after injuries suffered in an automobile accident near the end of spring break. Teammates spoke of the spark her presence in uniform gave to the team during the game.
"We have more confidence," said Throckmorton after the game. "But we need to beat Lee-Davis and Atlee." Both Capital District rivals come to Hanover in the next nine days. The Hawks lost to Atlee 4-3 and to Lee-Davis 8-0 earlier this season.
Patrick Henry, still unbeaten in the Colonial District at 10-0, travel to Douglas Freeman Friday night. They are now 13-1 overall. Hanover, now 9-5 overall, has won five straight since the Lee-Davis defeat back on April 17th.
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