For Patriots, softball title is a constant
In all the changes in Virginia High School League (VHSL) reclassification, from districts to conferences, the Central Region to 5A Regions, there is one constant.
Patrick Henry softball takes a title.
Patrick Henry’s Beth Ford scores a run as Deep Run catcher Baylee Grandstaff waits for the throw home.
After claiming the final four Colonial District crowns, the Patriots clinched the first-ever Conference 16 Championship Tuesday night, shutting out Hermitage 5-0. At 12-1, even with a loss in their regular season finale Wednesday at Mills Godwin, Patrick Henry has amassed enough VHSL power rating points to clinch the number one seed in the conference tournament.
The Patriots will host a tournament semifinal against the fourth-seeded Albemarle Patriots Friday night. The other semifinal will pit second-seeded Halifax County (16-4) against third-seed Orange County (14-5). With a win Friday, Patrick Henry would not only host the Conference 16 Tournament Final on Memorial Day, but would also clinch a berth in the 5A North Region Tournament, putting them two wins away from a return to state competition.
Patrick Henry finishes their regular campaign on the road after closing out Senior Night Friday with a convincing 11-3 victory over Deep Run. Consistency was the name of the game as the Patriots scored two runs or more in four of six offensive innings, including four in the sixth to put away the Wildcats.
“Our offense was consistent and strategic,” said Patriots head coach Shelby Webb. “At the start of the year, our small ball was struggling, so we focused a lot on that in practice. It’s nice to see what we work on in practice come to life in a game.”
It is a dangerous combination that Patrick Henry holds entering the postseason: the ability to score via the sacrifice and single, or by the long ball, coupled with the pitching of junior Candace Whittemore. Save the home run pitch thrown to Mills Godwin in the seventh inning of a 1-0 loss April 10, Whittemore would be unbeaten going to the Eagles for the regular season finale.
For the three outgoing seniors: Ashley Samuels, Kendall Thomas, and Abby Clement, the win was bittersweet, but very satisfying.
“It’s our last regular season game here, we won’t be here anymore,” Thomas opined.
Thomas will not play softball in college, adding to the finality of the evening. She praised Webb for her guidance over the past two seasons.
“I will miss Shelby. She’s very easy to relate to, and she cares about everybody.”