By Stephen Henderson
It was a battle of the pitchers and superb defenses in Friday’s match-up between the Patrick County High School Lady Cougar softball team and the Warhill Lady Lions. The two teams played the State 3A semifinal game at Moyer Sports Complex in Salem. The Lady Lions came out on top 2-0 in a tough fought game.
The Lady Cougars had a week off after the previous week’s hectic schedule in the Region 3A West tournament where they lost to Brookville 6-1 in the finals.
The Lady Lions, from Warhill High School in Williamsburg, came into Friday’s game with a perfect record of 25-0. They beat Brookville last year in the state tournament.
After what seemed to be some nerves showing in the first inning, the Lady Cougars settled in and went to work. In the bottom of the first, the Lady Loins got runners to first and second from back-to-back walks given up by Cassidy Largen. With two outs on the board, Largen got out of the jam by striking out the next batter.
The second inning was the only inning the Lady Cougars would get a runner. Zoe Hutchens, with the only hit for the day, took the first pitch deep to the left side and beat the throw to first.
“We had some really good at-bats from some. They went deep in the count and battled some pitches off. We had seen some pitching like Keely Rochard before, but she did put a little more movement on the ball,” said Coach Roger Wilson.
The Lady Loins had four hits on the day, including a bunt that caused a collision between catcher Makenzie Watts and first baseman Zoe Hutchens. The ball popped out of Watts’ glove but was picked up by Zoe Hutchens. She finished the play by throwing the ball down to first to Morgan Biggs, who was covering the base, and then got the runner out at second.
“Great defense. That’s something we’ve always been good at,” Wilson said. “That’s kinda what Patrick County softball is known for. Our defense. And in this game it showed,” he said, “with the heads up play from Hannah Hylton out in right and Zoe to keeping playing on that bunt.”
The first run of the game came from the #2 batter for the Lady Loins. She singled to first and then stole second. Her teammate batting behind her then scored her off a double to the right field fence where Hanna Hylton would relay the ball to Zoe Hutchens, then to Sydney Biggs at third for a 9-3-5 out.
The other run of the game came in the sixth when the lead-off batter was hit by a pitch. She would later score off a double to left-center.
Warhill eventually won the state title Saturday by beating the Brookville Lady Bees 1-0 after 18 innings.
“We played our heart out. I knew this was going to be a tough game,” Wilson said. “Their hits fell in, ours just didn’t,” he explained. “That’s the way this game goes,” he added.
“They continued to play, never getting down. That’s the mark of a great team,” Wilson said.
“We are proud of our girls this season. We set some goals and we reached them. We wanted to make it to the state tournament and we did,” Wilson said.
“This was an amazing group of young ladies to coach,” said assistant coach Nikki Handy. “They are a blessed group to be with—they bring so much to the table—individually and as a group,” she said. “They made our jobs easy,” she added.
“After falling one game short for the past three years, we are proud of them. They’ve worked hard and proven themselves that they belong here,” Wilson said.
“For our seniors, thank you for all the great years they have given us, and we are excited to see them excel in their next chapter. Savannah and Cassidy will continue their softball careers, and we are very excited to see what they will bring to the collegiate level,” Wilson said.
“To our community, THANK YOU! Thank you for all the support through the season, but mostly thank you for the past two weeks. The love and support from our community has been great with the ‘send offs.’ Either at home on social media or live at the games, we want to thank everyone for the supporting us,” Wilson said.