HURRICANE — Cabell Midland freshman pitcher Olivia Canterbury didn’t make many mistakes in the Mountain State Athletic Conference softball championship Friday night, but when she did the penalty was costly.
Spring Valley senior catcher Cassie Adkins took a 1-1 pitch from Canterbury for a ride in the bottom of the fourth inning, scoring herself and designated player Haleigh Christopher with a two-run home run that propelled the Timberwolves to a 2-1 win.
“I thought she was going to throw be a ball, and she threw me a strike and I just choked up and put the bat on it,” Adkins said of the fateful pitch. “I just knew it. When I hit it, I knew it.”
Adkins’ expectation of a ball was understandable. Canterbury repeatedly got Spring Valley (18-3) hitters to wave at her rise ball, and finished with 10 strikeouts while giving up just three hits in taking the loss. Of her strikeout total only one time was a Spring Valley caught looking at strike three.
On the flip side, Spring Valley pitcher McKenzie Acker struck out just three Knights (16-7) but received solid defense from the Timberolves lineup throughout the game. Midland finished with four hits, the last one of which gave the Knights an opportunity to tie the game in the top of the seventh when Spring Valley committed its lone error.
After Midland catcher Alyssa Koontz led off the seventh with an infield single, Katie Kellie hit a ball sharply to Spring Valley third baseman Jade Spurlock, who impressively came up with the ball on one short, sharp hop. With pinch-runner Brooke Chapman breaking for second Spurlock rushed her throw to second to force Chapman out, with the throw sailing high and allowing both runners to not just reach base but to also advance, putting runners at second and third with no outs.
“She got scared. She got nervous, she said when she walked out there she said, ‘I was nervous,’” Adkins said of Spurlock. “She’s a heck of a ballplayer. That’s my best friend. She just got nervous, that’s all it was, and she made a good play but sometimes when you make a good play you’ve got to make a good throw.
“We had her back,” Adkins said.
Abbie Tolbert followed with an RBI groundout and Acker got Jamie Schussler to strike out looking before retiring pinch-hitter Jenna Marsh to end the game.
“Honestly, since I have been at Spring Valley we have never done anything like this,” Adkins said. “This is the best team we’ve had in a long time, since, I think, 2006.”
The team Adkins referenced was the Timberwolves club led by then-freshman pitcher Stacia Jackson, which went on to win the Class AAA state championship.
RIPLEY 6, HURRICANE 4 — In the MSAC third-place game, Ripley used a three-run sixth inning to tie host Hurricane, then scored two runs in the top of the 10th inning to hand the defending Class AAA state champions their second consecutive loss.
It was the first time Hurricane had lost two straight games since its 2012 sectional tournament against Lincoln County.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.