Knights, Redskins will meet for title
HURRICANE -- Cabell Midland and Hurricane will meet for a third time this season, this time with the Mountain State Athletic Conference title on the line, after both teams won their semifinal games Wednesday evening, both by a score of 5-1.
The first time the two teams met, Hurricane won in a 15-13 slugfest at Hurricane. Cabell Midland evened the series at a game apiece in a 9-8 win at Best of the Best at Buffalo.
Hurricane will serve as the venue for Wednesday night's game. The consolation game begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by the championship contest 30 minutes after completion of the first game.
"I feel like our teams are so evenly matched; great hitters throughout the lineup," said Hurricane coach Josh Caldwell, after his team had knocked off South Charleston. "Obviously, whoever hits the ball is going to win."
Neither team had lively bats in their semifinal matchups.
Cabell Midland managed seven hits against Ripley, but most of the runs were manufactured through steals, sacrifice bunts and even the occasional sacrifice fly. Ripley also committed seven errors that allowed the Knights to move runners or score.
"A win is a win and I'm proud of our girls," said Midland coach Jeanne Lunsford. "Our defense played really well and we did a couple of things well, but their pitcher just kept us off balance, very much so."
Lunsford pulled starting pitcher Jenna Marsh after three innings, electing to go with Abbie Tolbert the rest of the way. Tolbert didn't allow a run from the Vikings in the remainder of the contest.
"(Marsh) was frustrated, and she was hitting her spots but they weren't the umpire's spots," Lunsford said. "So, it was nothing against her, we just wanted to get a bit of a different look and give the umpire a different look."
Lunsford knows that the bats have to wake up to stay in a contest with Hurricane.
"Yeah, if the bats don't light up it's going to be a difficult game," she said. "We need to come alive with our bats and not be so off-balance."
In Hurricane's win over South Charleston, it was a battle of aces with Courtney Rogers on the mound for the Skins and one of the best pitchers in the state in Alli Burdette in the circle for the Black Eagles.
It was Burdette who flinched first, and it was Rogers on the other end when it happened.
Hurricane's pitcher blasted a solo home run to left center leading off the bottom of the second inning.
The Redskins got another run in the bottom of the 3rd on a balk from Burdette. Meanwhile, Rogers continued to mow down batter after batter, while her defense was rock solid behind her. Rogers finished the game with 10 strikeouts.
The next time she got a chance to help herself was in the bottom of the fifth, when Hurricane had already extended its lead to 3-0 off a double from Cassi Sargent.
This time Rogers got an RBI single in what would be a three-run inning for Hurricane.
"She had a good game, and, against (Burdette) you can't give up three or four runs, so she did a great job of keeping us in the game when we weren't scoring," Caldwell said. "She's had seven home runs on the season and when we've needed runs, she's produced."
South Charleston scored its one run in the top of the sixth inning on an error from center fielder Nicole Pierson.
But Pierson would have redemption.
Down to its last at-bat in the top of the seventh, South Charleston had two runners on when pinch hitter Bailey Bennett sent a screamer that looked like a solid double for sure. Pierson tracked the ball and made a lunging catch that stymied any hopes of a rally, and Rogers was able to strike out the next batter to seal the win.
"Nicole in my mind is one of the best center fielders in the state," Caldwell said. "If she doesn't run that ball down, that's at least one run, if not two. That was a huge, huge play for us."
RIPLEY 001 000 0 -- 1 4 7
CABELL MIDLAND 120 200 x -- 5 7 2
Hager (5), Hinzman and Mellinger; Marsh (3), Tolbert and Koontz
Hitting: (R) Fisher 2-3, 3B; (CM) Zerkle RBI, King 2-3, Waugh 2-3.
SOUTH CHARLESTON 000 001 0 -- 1 5 2
HURRICANE 011 030 x -- 5 7 1
Burdette and Catlett; Rogers and Reynolds
Hitting: (SC) Phillips 2-3, 2B; (H) Rogers 2-3, HR, 2 RBIs; Hebb 3-3, Sargent 2B, RBI.