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 www.gamedaymagazine.com.
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