Following a difficult nine-inning loss to George Washington-Danville in their final regular season home game, the Patrick Henry baseball team had something to prove as they entered the Western Valley District playoffs.
The playoffs began with an 11-3 victory over E.C. Glass at Edwards Field. Senior Kemper Steffe shut down the Hilltoppers on the mound, with some relief help from Will Kaufman. A quartet of underclassman provided the run support for the Pats with Kaufman and Zach Whitaker contributing three hits a piece, a two hit effort by Austin “Goose” Dillard and a huge bases-loaded triple by Aaron Burton. The win set up a second round meeting at Halifax County, where the Patriots hadn’t won “since Lassie was a pup.”
Zach Whitaker took the mound against the Western Valley regular season champion Comets and proceeded to perplex Halifax County with an array of well placed pitches. The Comets scored only twice, while Patrick Henry put three runs on the board in the first inning and never gave up the lead, delivering a clutch 6-2 win.
Whitaker helped his own cause tallying three hits. Aaron Burton remained hot with three singles of his own, top batters Brad Sowers and Yates Sayers notched two hits, and Will Kaufman and Luis Gastelum both drove in two big runs.
The win sent Patrick Henry to Danville for a rubber match with GW for the district title game. According to reliable sources, this was foreign territory for the Pats, who had not played in a district title baseball game in 28 years.
Playing without the stellar services of senior captain Kemper Steffe, who had suffered a concussion when colliding with a Halifax County base-runner in the semi-final game, the Patriots traveled to Danville to keep their championship dreams alive. Despite a hard fought complete game performance by sophomore pitcher Aaron Burton (who also contributed two base hits), the Patriots fell to the Eagles 5-1, ending their season with a 12-11 record.
With Whitaker, Burton and Kaufman returning to the mound, Brad Sowers providing a deadly stick, and an impressive group of players rising from the junior varsity ranks, the Patriots will be a force to be reckoned with in 2010.