The Times West Virginian

Sports

April 29, 2013

COLUMN: Bees-Huskies may be instant classic

FAIRMONT — The first game was a classic, so why would the postseason be any different?

That is the question you have to ask going into today’s sectional softball tournament opener.

Yeah, tourney host East Fairmont starts the show at 4:30 p.m. versus Fairmont Senior, but the cross-town showdown takes a huge backseat because of two things: 1.) The Polar Bears’ rough season and 2.) Who is waiting around the bend once the Bees likely take care of FSHS.

That would be North Marion, which is in the midst of a breakthrough season under back-again coach Brad Harker. The Huskies have exceeded last year’s win total of 14 and then some, with an impressive 22 wins heading into today.

North, for the first time in years, has also had the upper hand over East Fairmont so far.

The Huskies swept the season series with the Bees — winning a doubleheader in Rachel on April 10, by scores of 1-0 and 14-7 — and carry plenty of momentum into today’s contest.

You’d like to think a lot of those good vibes were the byproduct of what took place in the opening game that day, as North got a stellar start in the circle from Danielle Fluharty and an eventual game-winning single from Paige Efaw to nab a thrilling eight-inning victory.

And a similar showing is what North will need to get past East, which has two strong pitchers in Tori Postlewait and Ashley Martin, not to mention a deep, varied offensive lineup that can match up with virtually anyone in Class AA.

One thing the Bees have been able to do in recent years better than most area softball programs is put the ball over the fence, and 2013 is no different.

In all, a trio of East hitters — Kayla Summers, Tori Postlewait and Jasmin Johnson — have at least five home runs apiece and the first two have a combined 82 RBIs.

But North has an excellent 1-2 pitching punch of its own in Danielle Fluharty and Chelsi Latocha, along with an offense that gets on base and has a knack for getting the clutch hit.

Put it all together — the high stakes, the comparable talent of both squads and what’s happened in the not-so-distant past — and you have all the makings of a classic sectional final matchup.

It gets under way with two games today, at 4:30 p.m. and approximately 6 p.m., at EFHS. Double-elimination play continues with another pair of games Tuesday, with a deciding contest set for Wednesday night as well if needed.

And no matter whether Bees or Huskies come out on top, they’ll earn it fair and square this time around.

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