Knights win MSAC championship
HURRICANE -- All the buzz coming into Wednesday night's MSAC Championship in softball was about the high-powered offense of both Cabell Midland and Hurricane.
Cabell Midland's Kyla Shull wanted to remind everyone on Wednesday that softball is still a sport dominated by pitching.
After the first two meetings between the teams produced a total of 45 runs with both being close ballgames, Shull got plenty of run-support in the first inning and followed by limited the Hurricane offense in a 12-2 win to claim the MSAC softball title.
"Kyla did a great job -- very proud of her," Cabell Midland coach Jeanne Lunsford said. "Our pitching, we've been in and out all year long and she came out today and stepped it up."
The last time Shull had been on that field, the teams engaged in a 15-13 slugfest which the Redskins won. That memory stuck in Shull's head and she used it as motivation on Wednesday.
Coming in, Hurricane had averaged 10.1 runs per game, but Shull limited the Redskins to just four hits in five innings with the only damage coming on a two-run home run by Courtney Rogers in the bottom of the third inning.
In four of Hurricane's five losses, the Redskins have been held to two runs or less.
"I kind of had a rough start with the first game and got pulled out in the third inning," Shull said. "It hurts you and breaks you down, but this win helps a lot. That helped get me ready for this game, plus we had so much energy coming out. We were ready for them today."
Shull's nerves were eased by one of the more statistically-odd innings that either Lunsford or Hurricane coach Josh Caldwell had ever seen.
Before Shull ever stepped into the circle to throw her first pitch, the Knights led 8-0 after a flurry of 10 consecutive two-out hits.
Rogers started in the circle for Hurricane and got a line-out and groundout to start the game and thought she had a third out, but it was determined Cabell Midland's Jordan Colliflower had beat out a throw on an infield hit.
"I was already out on the field ready to meet the team, but that's no excuse," Caldwell said. "Two outs and they have one runner on, and we give up eight runs with two outs. That's not anything of a good team, or even a bad team. There's no excuse. You have to get out of the inning. It was adversity and we didn't deal with it - not even close."
Morgan Kelley followed with a double to the right-field wall and, after Jenny Brumfield followed with a single to put two runners on, Savannah Eplin laced a two-run double to make it 3-0.
Caldwell came out to try and calm Rogers down, but four consecutive singles increased the lead to 5-0 and loaded the bases.
Emily Davis came on in relief of Rogers, but Cabell Midland's Mandi King laced a single that got past the left-fielder and went to the wall to clear the bases and make it 8-0.
"Greg (Lunsford, Jeanne's husband and assistant coach) and I were just talking about it," Lunsford said. "I don't think we've ever had a team to hit the ball - two outs, 10 hits. That's amazing. That's focus and the energy. They had a lot of energy coming in - probably the best they've had all year."
From there, Davis settled the Midland bats down until the top of the fifth inning when the Redskins imploded with five errors in four batters to plate four runs and force the mercy-rule into effect for the Knights.
"You can't play bad and beat a really good team - in my mind, the best team in the state," Caldwell said. "We just played terrible. I thought we gave up a little bit. It's not normal for us or typical, but it is what it is."
Both teams are preparing for the postseason, which begins next week.
Cabell Midland travels to Wayne for a 5:30 p.m. contest on Thursday while Hurricane wraps up its regular season at 6 p.m. on Friday at Huntington High.
CABELL MIDLAND 800 04 - 12 14 1
HURRICANE 002 00 - 2 4 7
Shull and Koontz. Rogers, Davis (1) and Reynolds. Hitting: (CM) Zerkle 2-4, RBI; King 2-4, RBI; Kelley 2-3, 2B, RBI; Brumfield 2-4, RBI; Eplin 2B, 2 RBI; Koontz 2-4, RBI. (H) Rogers 2-2, HR, 2 RBI.