By Drew Goodman / Scrimmageplaycva.com contributor
With the rain not letting up for the better part of a week, the Albemarle softball team was forced to cut its regular season short.
The Patriots did not get to play their final two Jefferson District contents, including a clash with Western Albemarle, leaving head coach Charlie Scott’s crew champing at the bit to take the field once again over a week later.
The Patriots were able to honor its senior class prior to Wednesday night’s showdown against Harrisonburg in the first round of the 5A Group D Tournament.
The five-player class made up of Quinn Graves, Meghan Brown, Sabrina Shisbey, Kayla Mann, and Kasie Pace finally got to the chance to take a bow one last time at home for what would be a memorable evening all around.
“This senior class is special,” Scott said. “We’ve got five seniors, three of them have been on varsity since their freshmen years and all of them started all four years. They’ve got great leadership… they just lead by example. They set the tone for kids like [junior] Logan [Friesen], Erin [Strider], and some of these younger kids that are going to be special as well.”
The emotional night had to be put on hold for over a week, but the Patriots made up for lost time by demolishing the Blue Streaks 14-0 behind a nine-run fifth inning.
Albemarle plated four runs in the bottom of the first inning and another in the third, but Scott challenged his team to rev up the intensity level in the game’s latter stages.
The veteran Patriots answered the bell in the bottom of the fifth.
Graves got the party started with a double and the floodgates opened from there. Mann later celebrated senior night in style by blasting a two-RBI triple to put the Pats ahead 8-0. Albemarle then reached double digits thanks to a two-RBI double from sophomore Kelly Graves.
In her second at-bat of the inning, the elder Graves brought in two more runs with a two-RBI single. The Patriots nearly batted around twice in the fifth inning.
“That’s what we can do, we can hit the ball. If we do that and play good defense behind Ellie [Cain] and we’re a pretty good softball team.”
The offense peaked in the bottom of the fifth, but the Albemarle defense was solid all night. Cain pitched a complete game and helped squash any potential Harrisonburg comebacks early on.
With runners on second and third and just one out in the top of the fourth, Cain came back in the count to deliver a huge strikeout to dampen the enthusiasm in the visitors’ dugout. The following batter then grounded out to Brown at shortstop and the Blue Streaks would never be heard from again.
Brown moved from catcher to shortstop for the first time in her storied career in place of the injured Shisbey. The multi-dimensional Brown, Cain, and the rest of the Patriots were exceptional on defense, committing just one error on the night.
Friday’s game at Orange will be the rubber match between Albemarle and the rival Hornets. Orange is no stranger to the big stage at this time of the year, and Scott is hoping that his team can recapture the magic found in their victory in Orange County back on April 17.
“We know what success is like at [Orange’s] stadium. We got them there at their place and they got us at our place,” Scott said. “That was the first time I’ve beaten Orange at home since I’ve been there… It’s a consistent program… Neil is a great coach… They got Lexi, they got Ashley, Hannah is doing a great job… Their second basemen is top notch in the state. We’ve got to come out and play right now.”