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In the late innings of a Lee-Davis softball game, expect to see Amy McIntyre, mother of Confederates pitching ace Lauren McIntyre, pacing far from the field.
“I have to,” McIntyre said. “I feel like when it comes to the seventh inning, it’s up to Lauren.”
Some nights, that’s true. But Tuesday, the Confederate bats found timely hits, coupled with multiple Patrick Henry errors, to lead Lee-Davis to a 5-1 victory in the Central Region quarterfinals in Ashland.
“The key tonight was to come out and put the pressure on them,” said Lee-Davis head coach Jackie Davis, mindful of what the Patriots could do. Patrick Henry’s 3-2, eight-inning victory at Lee-Davis March 22 saw the Patriots get 10 hits off McIntyre, who scattered just three Tuesday.
The pressure started early as Lee-Davis put two runners or more on base in each of the first three innings, scoring first in the second when Becca Fields hit a fly ball to right. The potential third out was dropped by Briana Woody, allowing Amy Wingfield and Becca Hicks to score to open a 2-0 Confederate lead.
In the third, freshman shortstop Brooke Martin opened with a single, advanced to second on a fielder’s choice, to third on a Haleigh Cottrell single and subsequent Patriot throwing error, and scored on an RBI groundout by Wingfield.
Patriots pitcher Candace Whittemore did her part to keep the game close, getting third-out strikeouts in four of seven innings to quell Confederate threats before the game could break wide open. Whittemore, a sophomore, started every game this year for Patrick Henry, stepping into the large void created by Emma Mitchell’s graduation. She comes away with an impressive 18-3 record and first team All-Colonial District honors.
Patrick Henry scored their lone run in the fourth. Paige Mitchell’s two-out single was followed by a long fly to deep center. Becca Fields misplayed the ball, allowing it to go to the wall, and Mitchell raced home to cut the lead to 3-1.
But the Confederates scored again in the top of the seventh, making McIntyre’s final frame that much easier.
“Getting two runs in the seventh is a nice cushion for Lauren to come in and finish up the game,” Davis added.
The Patriots, disappointed in seeing their season close, saw their 15-game winning streak come to an end. But head coach Shelby Webb, completing her first season at the helm, was very grateful for this spring’s accomplishments and optimistic about the future.
“Ellen [Davidson] and Hunter [Glave] definitely will be missed; they were excellent leaders for us this year,” Webb said. “But I’m pumped. We’ve got up-and-coming players with potential, players currently on the team looking to fill in…I’m looking forward to 2014.”
Meanwhile, Lee-Davis still has plenty to focus on. Up next is a rematch with Cosby in the Central Region semis. The Confederates are the only team to beat the defending state champions this season, owners of an 8-2 victory at Cosby earlier this month.
“It gives us confidence going in, knowing we’re good enough to play with them, and good enough to beat them,” Davis explained.
The Lee-Davis/Cosby rematch is the first semifinal on the schedule Thursday at 5 p.m., and the Confederates will get the advantage of the fact Lee-Davis is hosting the Regional Final Four. Lee-Davis will be the “visiting” team, so don’t be surprised when you see them uncharacteristically in the first base dugout in Mechanicsville.
Ironically, filling their home dugout in the nightcap Thursday will be their rivals, the Atlee Raiders. Atlee bounced back from their Capital District Tournament final loss to the Confederates Friday by routing Mills Godwin in a region quarterfinal Tuesday, 11-2. The Raiders wasted no time, jumping on the Eagles for five runs in the first inning and never looking back. Jessica Holte scattered four hits for the win, striking out nine, and added two hits and three runs offensively. Her battery-mate, Cameron Hall, launched a home run to add to Atlee’s 13-hit attack.
Most impressively, Mattie Fitzgerald returned from a broken cheekbone suffered before the district final Friday and had two hits. Fitzgerald and her Atlee teammates improve to 17-2, and now prepare to face Manchester in the regional semis. The Lancers eliminated Central District champion Dinwiddie 4-0.