Leesburg, Va. — New year. Same story. The Woodgrove High School softball team is doing it all again. Since the school opened in 2010, the Wolverines have made appearances in all eight possible district championship games. After defeating Loudoun County High School, 8-2, on May 20 in Leesburg, Woodgrove will play in its ninth straight district championship game, vying to win its eighth title, when the Wolverines travel to Riverside High School on May 22.
“We’re really just working hard and keeping our eyes on the prize,” junior shortstop Katie Merchant said. “We’re working together as a team, and it just feels really good to win.”
Merchant helped get the Wolverines scoring started when she singled and scored in the first inning, after sophomore center fielder Brooke Barker had doubled and scored to get Woodgrove on the board.
The trusty shortstop followed up her first-inning single and run with a single and stolen base in the third, a stolen base and run in the fifth, and two-RBI double in the sixth.
“I just said ‘see ball, hit ball,’” Merchant said. “And I did my job.”
For Merchant and the Wolverines, the game plan was to eliminate the change up from Loudoun County senior ace Alyssa Taylor’s arsenal.
“We wanted to take away Taylor’s change up. She has the best change up I’ve seen in quite a few years. If you can’t sit back, she’s going to eat you up with that,” Woodgrove head coach Joe Spicer said. “She still pitched a really good game, but tonight, we were able to put the ball in play.”
After allowing the two runs in the first, Taylor settled in, retiring seven batters in a row at one point. The Raiders, however, faced some defensive woes in the fourth and fifth, and while Taylor was able to battle through it, Woodgrove had done enough damage and gained enough momentum to put the game out of reach.
In the circle, Woodgrove senior starter Amanda Daniels cruised through four innings, allowing just a single unearned run through the first four frames. After allowing back-to-back hits to open the fifth, Daniels turned the ball over to sophomore reliever Jaimee Hardy, who – after a ground out scored the leadoff hitter – allowed just one baserunner over her three innings of work.
“Amanda does a great job of setting the table,” Spicer said. “We try to get her through five innings, then bring Jaimee in to gas it up for two to three innings, and Jaimee got the job done tonight.”
Heading to its ninth consecutive district championship game, the Wolverines (9-3, 18-4) are slated for a rubber match with the Riverside Rams (10-2, 18-3) on May 22 to decide the Dulles District champion.
“We’re a little bit young in some positions. It took them awhile to gain a little confidence, so they were having to face more adversity than some of the previous Woodgrove teams,” Spicer said. “But the second half of the season, they’ve started to believe in themselves, and that’s been the world.”
Loudoun County Batting
|Amanda Daniels (W)||4+||6||2||1||1||1|
|Jaimee Hardy (S)||3||0||0||0||1||1|
Loudoun County Pitching
|Alyssa Taylor (L)||7||9||8||5||4||1|