As the calendar flipped to May, as expected, the race for the final Capital District softball title went into overdrive. Atlee still leads the way with an 8-1 record after their 17-0 drubbing of Highland Springs Friday evening.
But the hottest team in the district is Hanover, a team overcoming a slow start for the second year in a row to become a dangerous threat deep into May, and beyond. Their latest win, 6-1 over Midlothian Monday, was highlighted by a six-run explosion in the first inning, including home runs from senior Shannon Albright and freshman first baseman Kaylyn Shepherd. Before that, the Hawks played, and won, three games in three days, beating Henrico Friday, Mills Godwin Thursday in a non-district affair, and Wednesday at Glen Allen.
The 8-4 victory over the Jaguars was the fifth in what is now an eight-game winning streak. The 10-3 Hawks are tied for second in the Capital with Lee-Davis, as both teams stood at 6-2. The two teams were to square off Tuesday night before rain and thunderstorms postponed the game to Wednesday. The winner will keep Atlee in their sights, while the loser, unless unusual circumstances happen, will be all but eliminated from the regular season district crown.
Hanover’s advantage, and strongest point in their win streak, is their offense. In seven of their eight wins, they’ve scored six or more runs, more than enough support for Kiandra Mitchum, who has settled nicely into the role as number one starter. She kept Glen Allen off balance in the road victory over the Jaguars, who scored most of their runs after the outcome was well in hand.
Also coming to the Hawks’ aid at a crucial time is the rise offensively of Shepherd and fellow freshman, center fielder Mackenzie Wyatt. Wyatt is batting clean-up after beginning the season on the bench.
But for Lee-Davis, 11-3 overall, their strongest suit is currently in the circle in the form of sophomore Lauren McIntyre. The ace threw a five-inning no-hitter in a 10-0 win over Varina Friday, and battled Atlee ace Jessica Holte pitch for pitch in their showdown last Thursday, won by the Raiders at home 2-1 to take over sole possession of first place. It will be up to McIntyre to corral and cool off the bats of the Hawks when the battle for second place finally occurs, weather permitting.
The Lee-Davis/Hanover winner will also have to hope Glen Allen can do something they’ve yet to do in the past two seasons, beat a Hanover County team. The young Jaguar program has come close on multiple occasions, but still seek their first win over Atlee, Hanover, or Lee-Davis. They travel to Atlee for the regular season finale Thursday, May 16.