By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
PLEASANT VALLEY —
Chelsi Latocha knew she had to step up to the plate after her brother baked a chocolate cake for their mother’s birthday.
With two outs in the fourth inning, the North Marion senior delivered. Her single through the right side of the infield knocked in the game-tying and go-ahead runs. As a little icing on the cake, she pitched seven strong innings to help the Huskies beat East Fairmont 7-3 on opening day.
“That was her birthday present,” laughed Latocha, who struck out four, walked one and surrendered eight hits.
Initially, the day looked like it would belong to East Fairmont, not Mrs. Latocha, when the Bees jumped out to a 2-0 first-inning lead thanks to Sydney Postlewait’s two-RBI double.
East Fairmont (0-1) extended its lead to 3-0 in the bottom of the third when Tori Postlewait tripled and scored on Cassidy Toothman’s sacrifice fly.
Meanwhile, the Huskies (1-0) were held to just one hit over the first three innings.
But with two outs in the fourth inning, the Huskies rallied. Paige Efaw started it with her first of three hits on day. Morgan Clyde singled and Chey Steen got a hit of her own to score the Huskies’ first run. Rachel Wiley then drew a full-count walk and Shelby King was hit by a pitch to score a second run and set the stage for Latocha.
North Marion coach Brad Harker said that last season his team may have folded after getting into the early hole. But in addition to the birthday girl, the Huskies were also another year older and wiser.
“I liked the way the girls came together at the end. I'm not sure we do that last year. I'm not sure if we go down 3-0 we pull it out,” said Harker. “We've just got to to keep that attitude as a team, picking each other up like we did today.”
The Huskies tacked on three insurance runs, one in each of the final three innings. Amanda Sigley doubled and later scored on Clyde’s sacrifice fly in the fifth. The following inning, Wiley singled for the second time in the game, worked her way around the bases thanks to some small-ball and scored on a wild pitch to make it 6-3. To top it off, Sigley tripled for her second extra-base hit of the day and scored on Shasta Pyles’ sacrifice fly in the seventh.
While the bats woke up for North Marion, Latocha shut out the Bees in their final four trips to the plate.
“Chelsi settled down really nicely after the third inning,” said East Fairmont coach John Postlewait. “We jumped on her early, then she settled in and changed some speeds and got us off balance. After she settled down, our bats quieted down.”
Latocha’s counterpart, Tori Postlewait, struck out two, walked two, hit one and surrendered 10 hits in seven innings. She also was a perfect 4-for-4 at the plate with a triple. Her sister, Sydney, added a double. Olivia Conaway, Leeanna Downey and Bailey Frederick also picked up hits for the Bees.
John Postlewait said that despite the loss, he found found positives in his team’s opening-day performance, especially since two freshmen and two sophomores started.
“Half of what we have on the field is pretty young,” he said. “We had a lot of questions coming into today. Other than taking the loss, I feel pretty good about where we're going to be.”
Both teams return to action Saturday. The Bees have a double-header at Braxton County and North Marion travels to Ritchie County.
Email Mike DeFabo at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.