Both teams came in white hot. Albemarle and Orange County’s softball teams split in the regular season and after the second half of the regular season, it was all too fitting that the rubber match came in the Commonwealth District title game. Thanks to a shutout performance from Virginia Tech signee Aysha Richardson and some timely hitting and defense, the Hornets picked up a 3-0 win over the Patriots.
“They came out ready to go,” said Orange coach Doris Buzzell. “We ready, we knew we were going to take this and we did it. Everyone stepped up. I have a young team. I’ve got four seniors and the rest are young and mostly sophomores but they’re an a-team and they can go far.”
The Hornets wasted little time getting ahead as Richardson led off the bottom of the first with a single and a stolen base. An RBI ground out from Hayley Jones made it a 1-0 game, more than enough for Richardson to work with. The Orange senior was her usual self in the circle for Orange, striking out 15 batters in the complete game shutout and not allowing a single runner to reach third base and surrendering just three hits.
“I knew we had to get them out while we could,” Richardson said. “I knew I had to be on my a-game because (Lindsay Chaney) was going to be on her a-game. So I had to be on my a-game hitting as well.”
Albemarle threatened on multiple occasions but Orange catcher Alexis Bledsoe caught three of the Patriots six total base runners trying to steal, twice to second and once to third to thwart the chance of the visitors tying up the game in the second, third and fourth innings.
“The last two times we stole bases against them, I don’t know what it was but we weren’t leaving the bag until the ball was over halfway to the plate and you can’t do that,” said Albemarle coach Bill Hutchinson. “It wasn’t close, and we talk about getting good jumps all time but we didn’t and that killed us. We had a lot of runners on base… we just didn’t take care of business.”
In the bottom of the fifth, Orange grabbed a pair of insurance runs on a single from Kaitlyn Johnson and an RBI single from Richardson and an RBI double Ashleigh Williams, both of those coming with two outs to put the contest out of Albemarle’s reach.
Emily McAllister was 2 for 2 for Albemarle with a walk. Chaney struck out seven batters.
For Orange, Richardson and Williams were both 2 for 3.
Both squads secured Northwest Region bids coming into the title game. Albemarle will host Patrick Henry on Thursday at 6 p.m. The Hornets have a first round bye and will host the winner of Broad Run and Forest Park on Monday at 6 p.m.