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Lady Comets fall to PH Ashland in titile game / May 28, 2014
Halifax County High School varsity softball knew Monday’s very tough test against an excellent Patrick Henry-Ashland team would be extremely challenging.

The Comets lost, 4-0, on the road.

The Lady Comets are now now 17-6. Halifax will host a Region 5-A north contest Friday.

Meanwhile, PH-Ashland’s stellar junior hurler, Candace Whittemore, outdueled Comet sophomore Taylor Barnes. PH-Ashland, now 14-1, scored one run in the first inning, one more in the third, and two in the fifth.

PH-Ashland collected seven hits and fanned five times against Barnes.

Whittemore controlled the Comets. She retired the first 12 HCHS batters in a row, until giving up back-to-back singles to Barnes and Ashley Watts in the top of the fourth. PH-Ashland then got a popup to its catcher to end the inning.

From there, the Comets had just two more baserunners. Megan Watts drew a two-out walk in the fifth, before the inning ended on a strikeout. Barnes reached on a two-out error in the sixth, but the inning ended on a strikeout.

Whittemore closed out the win with a 1-2-3 inning in the Comet seventh.

She fanned nine Comets.

Whittemore, batting second, helped her cause with a RBI single in the first inning. PH got an unearned run behind a Comet error in the second. PH manufactured two more runs in the fifth.

Comet head coach Melanie Saunders said PH had a solid mound presence.

Whittemore “kept us off balance at the plate. Our girls played very flat ...did not make any adjustments at the plate.

“Some of them still don’t understand how important that is as a batter. Until they learn to do that against good pitchers, they will continue to be unsuccessful at the plate,” said Saunders.

But PH-Ashland clearly deserves credit, too.

“Patrick Henry played the short game well. They were the fastest team I have seen as a whole. You normally see the lead-off with speed but they were fast on into the line-up. We were hoping to bring the positive momentum from Friday’s game into (the conference title game) but that just didn’t happen. The kids have to be able to play in these pressure games. The competition today and into the regionals is going to keep getting better and better and they have to believe they can adjust and make it happen,” said Saunders.

On the positive side, the Comet girls kept it reasonably close against a very tough opponent. For instance, PH recently beat Deep Run, 11-3, on the Patriots’ Senior Night. And this level of postseason experience should help the younger Comets down the road.

HCHS gets a fresh start in the Region 5-A playoffs. Halifax would not see PH again until the regional finals.

If the Comets get to the regional finals, they make the Region 5-A state tournament.

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