BUFFALO, W.Va. — Two out of three ain’t bad, especially when you don’t even lose the third.
The South All-Star Team — which featured two Mason County athletes — won the first two games of a triple-header against the North All-Star Team in the annual West Virginia High School Softball All-Star Game, which was held on Thursday at Buffalo High School.
However, the third game — which was only scheduled for five innings — ended in a 4-all tie, leaving the South’s record at 2-0-1 on the day.
Representing the 18-11 regional finalist Lady Falcons was Rachel Roque, a two-time all-state honoree who’s committed to play for Ohio University-Chillicothe next spring.
“It’s an honor,” said Roque. “Not many people have gotten to play in this game from Wahama, I don’t know if there’s been anyone. It’s a little intimidating, because there are a lot more experienced players and you see a lot of different types of pitches.”
In fact, even the weather — which went from a humid 92-degrees at first pitch to a hail storm that delayed the third game in the top of the first inning — couldn’t put a damper on the day for Roque.
“It’s been hot, but other than that the experience has been really cool,” she said. “I like getting to know all the people from around here, seeing how they’ve been coached, seeing what they can teach me and what I can pass on to them.”
PPHS senior Karissa Cochran — a three-time all-state honoree — represented the 24-10 regional finalist Lady Knights by pitching and playing third base on Thursday.
“It means a lot to me that I was chosen to represent Point Pleasant and I had a lot of fun doing it,” Cochran said. “I’ve played a lot of travel ball and a lot of softball outside of high school with a lot of these girls, so it was really fun getting back with them for one last time.”
Cochran started in the circle for the South All-Stars, and struck out all three batters she faced in the top of the first. The PPHS senior credits positivity and a special connection with her battery mate for her great start to the day.
“I guess I was just really excited and happy to be here, pitching to Haleigh Christopher from Spring Valley,” Karissa said. “She’s my best friend, we played together when we were little and it was just nice to play with her again.”
Cochran was the winning pitcher of record in the first game, pitching three perfect innings, before Poca’s Tori Ward finished the game in relief.
The South All-Stars jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, as Lincoln County’s Sarah Barrett singled home Spring Valley’s Karlee Alderman, and Christopher singled home South Charleston’s Olivia Orcutt Lazo.
After a scoreless second frame, Alderman put the home team up 3-0 in the third frame, as she hit a two-out triple and then scored on a passed ball.
Christopher doubled to lead off the home half of the third, and then Roque — serving as a courtesy runner — scored on an error to make the margin 4-0.
With two outs and two runners on base, the North All-Stars committed their second error of the frame, allowing the South to scored its fifth run. Still with two outs in the third inning, Alderman singled home Cochran — who singled with one out in the frame — pushing the South lead to 6-0.
The North All-Stars threatened to score for the first time with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, as a single, a walk and an error loaded the bases. However, Ward got the next batter to pop up to the second baseman, ending the inning.
Barrett doubled to start the bottom of the fourth and was then singled home by Hurricane’s Maddie Hebb. Ward singled home Hebb and Chase Christy, of Buffalo, on the very next at-bat, making the South All-Stars’ lead 9-0.
Musselman pitcher Sabrina Schroades struck out the final two batters of the fourth inning, keeping the North’s deficit at nine.
An error and a single gave the North some more hope in the top of the fifth, but a strikeout and a 6-to-3 ground-out keep the visiting team from scoring and sealed the 9-0 mercy rule win for the South.
Alderman was the named most valuable player for the victors in the opening game, while Parkersburg South’s Megan Bosley was named North MVP.
In the second game, the South All-Stars were the visiting team on the scoreboard and were retired in order in the top of the first.
A walk and a one-out double put two runners in scoring position for the North All-Stars in the bottom of the first, but a fly-out to shortstop and a ground-out to shortstop ended the frame and stranded both runners.
The teams were held to a single apiece in the second inning and the South went 1-2-3 again in the third.
The North loaded the bases on a walk, a single and an error by the second baseman in bottom of the third frame, but the South’s second baseman earned redemption with a 4-3 ground-out to end the frame, stranding three runners on base.
The South All-Stars made it into scoring position for the first time in the game in the top of the fourth, when Hurricane’s Amber Null drew a one-out walk and then moved to second on a passed ball. However, a strikeout and a 4-3 ground-out retired the side.
After a 1-2-3 bottom of the fourth and two quick outs in the top of the fifth, the South looked for some two-out magic, as Winfield’s Abby Short singled and advanced to second on a passed ball. The game remained in a scoreless tie, however, as a strikeout, with a tough 2-3 putout, ended the frame.
Ripley’s Darby Petersen singled and moved to second on a wild pitch with two outs in the bottom of the fifth, but Logan’s Hanna Sedlock — who entered the game in the third inning — struck out her fourth batter to retire the side.
Alderman led off the South’s sixth inning with a bunt attempt, which was thrown into right field, allowing the speedy Spring Valley senior to advance to second. On the same play, Alderman successful made it to third after a second throwing error by the North. Alderman — who won both of the sprint challenges on Thursday morning — made it home safely after a third error on the play, giving the South a 1-0 lead in the top of the sixth.
The next three batters were retired in order, leaving the South All-Stars with a 1-0 advantage.
Cochran entered as the South’s pitcher in the bottom of the sixth, and she retired the North All-Stars in order.
The Point Pleasant senior gave herself some insurance in the top of the seventh, singling home Hebb. Serving as Cochran’s courtesy runner, Orcutt Lazo was then driven in by Sedlock, making the South All-Stars’ lead 3-0.
After back-to-back ground-outs to start the bottom of the seventh, Cochran surrendered her first base runner of the day with a walk. Cochran bounced back to get a ground-out on the next play, however, earning the save and sealing the 3-0 victory for the South.
Sedlock — who was the winning pitcher of record — was named the game MVP for the victors, while Petersen took the honor for the North.
Cochran began the third game in the circle for the, now home team on the scoreboard, South All-Stars. The PPHS senior allowed a leadoff walk to Greenbrier West’s Bella Coles and then gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Ripley’s Kelsey Moore and North Marion’s Shasta Pyles.
Before the fourth batter of the game made it to the batters’ box, a hail storm delayed the game for about 30 minutes.
As the storm passed, so did Cochran’s troubles, as she retired the next three batters in order. However, Pyles scored on an error before the South could escape the inning, and the North led 3-0.
The South All-Stars took advantage of what was given to them in the bottom of the first inning as Christopher hit a one-out double, plating Alderman and Barrett, both of whom walked earlier in the frame.
Ward relieved Cochran in the circle and retired the North in order in the top of the second.
A one-out single and stolen base by Alderman gave the South hope of tying the game in the bottom of the second, but a strikeout and a 4-3 ground-out ended the frame.
Parkersburg’s Bailee Hilling singled home Ritchie County’s Kenna DeLancey with two outs in the top of the third, increasing the North All-Stars’ lead to 4-2.
However, the South All-Stars got that run right back in the bottom of the inning, as Sissonville’s Taylor Casto doubled home Roque, who entered as a courtesy runner and stole second base to get into scoring position. Casto was stranded on second base, however, as the next batter grounded out to shortstop.
Sedlock relieved Ward for the South in the top of the fourth inning, and Musselman’s Sabrina Schroades led off the frame with a double. However, Sedlock retired the next three batters in order and kept the deficit at one.
The South offense was retired in order in the fourth, but its defense survived back-to-back two-out singles by Ritchie County’s Tracy Lamp and University’s Tess Chafin in the top of the fifth inning, keeping the North lead at 4-3.
With their backs against the wall, the South All-Stars got a single by Orcutt Lazo to lead off the bottom of the fifth inning. Orcutt Lazo then advanced to second on a sac-bunt and third on a sac-fly. A ground-ball was mishandled by the North second baseman on the next play, allowing Spring Valley’s Taylor Scott to beat the throw to first and Orcutt Lazo to score the game-tying run.
A fly-out to first base ended the inning with the teams tied at four. The third game was originally scheduled to be five innings in length and extra innings weren’t to be played, leaving the decision a 4-4 tie.
Christopher was the South MVP for the third game, while Moore was given the honor for the North.
Along with Alderman winning both the home-to-first and home-to-third sprints, Mikayla Willingham of Washington won the fastest overhand throw, Sedlock won the fastest pitch, Coles won the long-distance accuracy throw, Musselman’s Taylor Stocks won the bunting competition, while Pyles won the home run derby.
Roque competed in the accuracy, bunting and sprint challenges, while Cochran took part in the accuracy, bunting, pitching challenges, as well as the home run derby.
The South — which has won 15 of the last 18 decisions in this meeting — now holds a 35-22-1 record all-time over the North All-Stars. The series first started in 1993. Roque was one of just three Class A players to take part in the game, joining Christy from Buffalo and Coles from Greenbrier West.
Along with the all-star festivities 155 awards were presented, including the West Virginia Sports Writers Association State Player of the Year Award, which was won by Hurricane junior Katie Adams.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.