BUFFALO — Familiarity and chemistry are two of the more common problems teams face when competing in an all-star game. That wasn’t the case for the South team, winning two of three games in the North-South All-Star softball series Thursday afternoon.
“It was great playing with these people that I’ve played with a long time,” said Herbert Hoover’s McKenzie Edmonds. “We’re all in different uniforms, but we act like we’ve been playing together all year.”
The South team dropped the first game 5-2, but took the second game 7-5 and shut out the North in the decisive third game 3-0, mostly because of the arm of Wayne pitcher Jessie Rowe.
Rowe tossed 7 2/3 shutout innings over the second and third games, allowing just four hits.
“We had good defense, I had everyone behind me making good plays,” said Rowe. “I felt comfortable on the mound. It’s my comfort zone.”
The South players certainly should have felt more at ease than their northern counterparts. The South’s roster was comprised of 18 players from 12 schools — seven of those schools being in Kanawha and Putnam counties. The North’s lineup had 18 players from 18 different teams.
“We know each other from travel ball and from playing against each other all these years,” said Rowe. “We know what each other is capable of and I think that helped us in the win today.”
Magnolia’s Mallory Chapman started on the mound for the first game for the North, allowing no runs and just two hits while striking out six in four innings of work.
The North plated a run in the second inning and one in the fourth, taking a 2-0 lead. In the fifth, the North’s Nicole Landis reached on an error and scored on a triple by Amanda Sigley. The North’s Tori Postlewait doubled in Sigley for a 4-0 advantage after five. The South finally got on the board, scoring two in the top of the sixth.
Doddridge County’s Lacy Perkins led off the bottom of the sixth for the North with a single and moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Presley Lamn. Ritchie County’s Abby Burgess doubled to score Perkins and complete the North’s scoring.
In the second game, the South jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning. After being held scoreless in the second, the South offense struck for four runs in the third, keyed by an RBI single from Hurricane’s Addie Fullen and a two-run double by Rowe.
“I think we relaxed and started hitting the ball,” said South coach Annette Olenchick. “We started getting our timing down.”
The South scored another run in the fourth and the North responded with a run in the fifth, giving the South a 7-1 lead going into the seventh.
The North made things interesting in the top of the seventh. St. Marys’ Alyssa Fetty singled to lead off the inning and moved to second after John Marshall’s Alyssa George walked. With two on and one out, Chapman belted a home run off South reliever Amber Hughes over the right-field fence to bring the North within two. Rowe was substituted back in to pitch and retired the next two batters to give the win to the South.
“We got a little aggressive, they’re very competitive,” Olenchick said of her team. “That’s what you love about groups like this. They don’t like to lose.”
In the final game, Edmonds doubled in a run in the second and West had an RBI single in the third to give the South a 2-0 advantage when the South’s pitching staff flexed its muscle.
West and Rowe combined to allow just three hits and no runs in five innings to give the South the series.
“It’s nice to wear my uniform and win in it,” said Edmonds. “We started out a little slow, and then we got with it and ended up winning two games. It’s amazing.”
For the South, Edmonds finished the afternoon going 3 for 6 with a double and an RBI, St. Alban’s Madi Marshall, Valley’s Kelsey Bird and Wayne’s Emily Fry added three hits each and Fullen recorded four hits and drove in a run. For the North, Buckannon-Upshur’s Julie Tenney drove in two runs on two doubles, Petersburg’s Brittani Bible went 4 for 6 with two triples and an RBI and George, Postlewait and Burgess all finished the day with two hits.