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!
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