Hunter Glave and Paige Mitchell have been there, and done that.
They know what it takes to play softball at a championship-caliber level. Some nights, you need to contribute both offensively and defensively for your team to succeed, and that’s exactly what the Patrick Henry duo did Friday evening. Both hit home runs and made key defensive plays for the Patriots as their road trip continued with an 8-2 victory over Mills Godwin, leaving them the only unbeaten team in the Colonial District at 10-0. They are 12-2 overall.
The first homer, by Glave, was a majestic shot well over the center field fence in the top of the fifth, helping to break open what had been a very close game. The Patriots scored one in the first to start the game, only to be tied by the Eagles when they scored a run in the third.
“It felt great,” Glave said of the home run swing. “I just saw the ball and knew if I didn’t hit it, I’d be mad at myself.”
Mitchell opened the fifth inning scoring with a double to score leadoff hitter Beth Ford to give the Patriots the lead for good at 2-1. When Glave crossed the plate, it was 5-1.
Not to be left behind, Godwin rallied in the bottom of the frame, scoring a run on a Kelly Petrohovich RBI groundout. But with two on and two out, Emily Rebuck’s sharp grounder came back to pitcher Candace Whittemore, deflecting off her glove. She had the presence of mind to run, grab the ball, and fire it to first to get Rebuck and end the inning and the last real Eagle threat.
“In my head I was going, ‘Don’t throw it!’ But after [Whittemore] threw it, I said, ‘Yeah!’” recalled Patrick Henry head coach Shelby Webb.
The Patriots played errorless ball, getting several key defensive stops to keep command of the game, from freshman third baseman Brooke Flexon, left fielder Kendall Thomas, and, of course, Mitchell, the vacuum cleaner at shortstop.
Mitchell would add insurance with a solo home run to right in the seventh. Glave would end the game in a dangerous way, making a fine catch of a foul pop-up. To ensure the catch, she gave up her face, as it planted into the chain link fence in front of her own dugout. One teammate, though, was there to cushion the blow.
“I had our catcher catch me, so I’m okay!” exclaimed Glave, giving credit to Ashley Samuels for holding onto her while she held onto the final out of the game.
Whittemore, pitching on back-to-back nights for the first time in over a month, scattered five Godwin hits. With J.R. Tucker losing to Deep Run, the Patriots stand alone atop the Colonial. But with all the rain, both games against the Tigers have been postponed, one of them twice. The Patriots will finish the season with five games in nine days, which includes a non-district battle with arguably the hottest team in the Central Region, Hanover, on Friday.
“We’re going to continue to do what we know how to do. That’s what I tell them every day,” Webb said.
The race to a fourth consecutive Colonial title begins Thursday at home against Douglas Freeman