The Times West Virginian

Sports

April 17, 2014

University hands Huskies first loss; East edges Elkins

MORGANTOWN — The mercy rule has been a familiar part of North Marion’s softball season.

Through the first seven games, the Huskies regularly pounded their opponents with stingy defense, sharp pitching and timely hitting. Rarely did a game go all seven innings for the previously undefeated team.

Wednesday at Mylan Park, the Huskies were yet again on the verge of a shortened game. But for the first time all season, North Marion was on the other end of a lopsided score.

Through three innings University High School piled up 15 hits and Hawks’ pitcher Savannah Bryner held the Huskies hitless to take a 9-0 lead— one run away from a mercy rule.

“It was one of those moments when you're standing in the dugout and you're not sure if they're going to fold,” said North Marion softball coach Brad Harker.

Rather than fold, the Huskies rallied.

While it wasn’t enough in a 9-5 loss, the way North Marion finished the game left the coach with at least a few positives to take away from the first loss of the season.

“I was really excited to see them step up,” he said. “Just to come back and make it a seven-inning game was a positive.”

In the top of the fourth inning, Chelsi Latocha led off with a walk to start the rally. Taylor Wells then broke up the no-hit bid with a double, her first of two hits on the day. Amanda Sigley followed with an RBI single. Then, Shasta Pyles singled two more runs home. And Paige Efaw doubled to cut University’s lead to 9-4.

The Huskies got one more run in the sixth inning when Pyles tripled and scored on Efaw’s groundout. But that was as close as the Huskies would get.

The five runs in the last four innings helped to make the game competitive, but it couldn’t undo the first three.

University picked up one run in the first inning off North Marion’s starter, Latocha. Then in the second, the Huskies were an out away from a scoreless inning. But the Hawks’ No. 9 hitter Morgan Slavensky singled to start a 5-run, 2-out rally.

“Any time you can two-out rally it makes things interesting,” said University coach Mindy Parks. “Hits are contagious. They strung their hits together and made it interesting.”

University tacked on three more runs in the third inning to end Latocha’s day in the circle after just 2 1/3 innings.

“She was on and she was throwing her pitches. Things were working,” Harker said. “They were just hitting it. It was just one of those days for them.”

Efaw tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings in relief, another positive for Harker. But with North Marion’s offense managing just two hits in the final three innings, it wasn’t enough to get the Huskies back into the game.

They will look to rebound from their first loss of the season today at Philip Barbour.

“We've got the motto this year ‘move on,’” Harker said. “Whether we win or whether we lose, we know that tomorrow is more important than today. We've got to come out and play our game.”

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