Cassidy Toothman had never hit a home run before.
Not in Little League. Not in a junior varsity game. Never.
But that all changed Tuesday when the East Fairmont catcher smacked a sixth-inning home run to left-center field. The solo shot against North Marion turned out to be the game-winning run, propelling East Fairmont to a 2-1 victory and a sectional title at Rivesville Middle School.
“My parents told me if you’re going to pick a time to hit one, I’d do it against North Marion,” Toothman said after the game.
While the home run was her first, the Bees saw it coming. As she dug into the batter’s box, several East Fairmont fans sitting just beside the dugout were overheard saying they had a feeling she might knock one out of the park.
“The last three weeks the way she's been hitting the ball, it didn't surprise me that she hit one out,” said East Fairmont softball coach John Postlewait, who has won the sectional each of his first four years. “As hard as she's been hitting the ball the last three weeks, it was coming. It just a matter of time.”
“We were predicting it all week on which game she was going to hit one,” said East Fairmont starting pitcher Tori Postlewait.
In a pitchers’ duel complete with diving catches and nearly flawless defense, all three runs came from solo home runs. Tori Postlewait got it started in the bottom of the first inning when she hit one over the centerfield fence.
North Marion pitcher Chelsi Latocha allowed a Hannah Ferrel single after the home run, but then settled in. Over the next 4.2 innings, she held East Fairmont hitless as the focus turned to the two pitchers.
The two-out, sixth-inning homer from Toothman was just the third East Fairmont hit Latocha surrendered in the entire game.
“You've got to give her a pat on the back, because she's pitched good all year,” North Marion coach Brad Harker. “She pitched great tonight. We just couldn't get enough runs to back her up.”
Latocha struck out three and walked one, but was matched pitch for pitch by Tori Postlewait. She struck out one and scattered five hits over seven innings
Down to their final three outs, North Marion’s Amanda Sigley crushed a home run to deep right field to cut East Fairmont’s lead to 2-1. But Postlewait retired the final three batters to close out the game.
The victory left the Bees elated, as they laughed and posed for photos with the trophy.
The Huskies, meanwhile, were deflated. They had won 17 games, were consistently ranked among West Virginia’s top 10 teams, routinely mercy-ruled opponents and clinched the Big 10 title.
They even beat East Fairmont in the only meeting between the two teams this year, perhaps a sign that the Marion County softball dominance was shifting North. But it all came crashing down Tuesday.
“Last year we had a lot of success. This year we had a lot of success,” said Harker. “When it comes time for when it counts, for some reason we're not carrying over that success that we had in the season.
“You'd give up winning the Big 10. You'd give up any award that you've gotten so that you could keep playing.”
Instead, the Bees will be the ones who get to “keep playing.” They advance to the semi-regional next Thursday at 5 p.m. at Braxton County.
“I wish we were playing tomorrow, as well as the defense is playing,” said John Postlewait. “The last two days are the best they've played all year. I hope they're gelling at the right time and they're coming together.”
Cassidy Toothman had never hit a home run before.
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