Warhill softball team ready for state title rematch

mobrien@vagazette.com

— The rematch is on.

Warhill and Brookville high schools will play again for the Group 3A softball state championship at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Moyer Complex.

This time, however, both are unbeaten.

Warhill earned its spot in the final with a 2-0 win over Patrick County here on Friday. Brookville was already waiting, having reached the championship game for the fourth consecutive season with a 5-0 win over York.

It will be one of the most-anticipated finals in the state and a sequel to the championship game won a year ago by Warhill, 2-0. Both enter with unbeaten records — Brookville 26-0 and Warhill 25-0 —and with pitchers, Warhill's Keely Rochard and Brookville's Jordan Dail, who will team together next season at Virginia Tech.

"It's a chance that we were expecting to happen again from the beginning of the season," said Rochard, who pitched a one-hitter and struck out 11 in the semifinal.

"A few weeks ago Bunn was talking to us about postseason and things like that," Lions third baseman Kieran McClure said of Warhill head coach Tom Bunn. "He was like, 'I want the epic ending, the epic ending of Brookville being undefeated and Warhill being undefeated and then the clash.' We all kind of fed off of that a little bit and we're looking forward to it. It's good competition."

McClure drove in the only run the Lions would need with an opposite-field double to right in the bottom of the third off of Cougars pitcher Cassidy Largen. That brought in Olivia Schulz, who had singled in front of her with two outs for the Lions first hit of the game.

"I knew that we weren't going to get a lot of opportunities to score runs," McClure said. "Their pitcher was pitching pretty well. I was just sitting on an outside pitch that I knew I could drive the other way that would give Olivia a chance to get in."

Rochard provided her own insurance when she doubled with one out in the bottom of the sixth to score Schulz, who had walked to start the inning.

Then Rochard, who retired 17 straight, struck out four of the final six batters to end the game. Zoe Hutchins' single represented the only base runner for Patrick County all afternoon.

"My changeup worked a lot," Rochard said. "I noticed they were pretty on my riseballs and all my hard stuff, so my changeup threw them off a lot."

Rochard will need all of her pitches working on Saturday to lead the Lions to a repeat state title. Dail will attempt to pitch Brookville to a third state crown in four seasons.

"It's going to be a good game again," Rochard said. "I think it's going to come down to execution."

WARHILL 2, PATRICK COUNTY 0

Patrick County 000 000 0 — 0 1 0

Warhill 001 001 x — 2 4 0

WP: Rochard (25-0). LP: Largen. Standouts: Patrick County, Z. Hutchens 1-2 (singled in 2nd inning); Warhill, Rochard 1-2 (double, RBI, pitched one-hitter, struck out 11), McClure 1-2 (double, RBI). Records: Patrick County 20-5, Warhill 25-0.

O'Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963

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