By Mike DeFabo and Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
A day after an 11-0 mercy-rule victory at Philip Barbour, the North Marion Huskies were at it again.
Chelsi Latocha threw three no-hit innings, Shelby King drove in five runs in the first inning and the Huskies rolled to a 20-0 victory over the winless Fairmont Senior Polar Bears in the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School.
“We come out and think that every game is a big one and that we have to push hard every single inning,” said Latocha, who struck out three to stretch her no-hit streak to seven innings. She also went 3-for-3 at the plate and drove in three runs.
“We don’t take anybody lightly,” she said. “Everybody is on the same playing ground as us.”
The Huskies sent 21 batters to the plate in the bottom of the first and racked up 17 runs. King tripled, singled and walked in the opening frame and scored three of the 17 runs.
“I’m the leadoff hitter, so it’s really not my job to be hitting home runs or that kind of thing. I’m there to get on base and let people hit me in,” she said. “It’s nice to have the opportunity to hit other people in.”
Morgan Clyde and Rachel Wiley had two hits and Taylor Wells doubled in the victory. Paige Efaw, Amanda Sigley, Chey Steen and Sam Pollock also added hits to help the Huskies tack on three more runs in the second inning.
FAIRMONT SENIOR 12
The Fairmont Senior Polar Bears thought they had it, their first win in nearly two seasons.
They had rallied from a 3-run deficit after the umpire announced that the sixth inning would be the final one because of a time limit. They rebounded with 11 hits after being no-hit in back-to-back games leading up to the one against Clay-Battelle. They had the bases loaded.
But ultimately, Fairmont Senior fell a hit short of winning the game in walk-off fashion. Then in the extra seventh inning, Clay-Battelle singled in a run to win, 13-12, at North Marion’s Diamond Dawg Tournament.
“We had our chances and we didn’t take advantage of all of our opportunities. But I think it’s a good learning experience,” said Fairmont Senior coach Josh Leep. “They see that they can actually be in a game and maybe win one.”
Fairmont Senior’s starting pitcher Brooklyn Nuzum struck out two batters in seven innings, doubled and drove in three runs. She agreed with her coach’s assessment.
“I thought we still played great. As a younger team, I expect us to lose some,” she said. “But today I really saw our confidence level go up.”
In a back-and-forth game, Clay-Battelle took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. But Fairmont Senior responded with three runs in the bottom half of the inning to take a 3-2 lead.
Clay-Battelle reclaimed the lead with four runs in the top of the second. But again, Fairmont Senior responded with six runs runs in the bottom of the frame to take a 9-6 lead.
But Clay-Battelle plated three in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 12-9 lead and set up the nail-biting final innings.
Jordan Birdsell recorded three hits. Cheyenne Phillips and Alexis Richardson had two. Becca Glover doubled. And Lexie Seremetis and Ali Shaver added hits.
“We're going to try to build on it,” said Leep. “The biggest thing is confidence. To get in here and almost pull one out, that does great things for confidence.
“We’ve got good things ahead of us.”
NORTH MARION 18,
After a sluggish start to the game, North Marion had a big third inning to put Clay-Battelle away, 18-2, Friday night at North Marion High School in the Huskies’ second game of the Diamond Dawg Tournament.
With a 6-2 lead heading into the third inning, North Marion piled together a 12-run inning to send the Cee-Bees home early.
Leadoff hitter Shelby King singled to start off the inning, which Chelsi Latocha followed up with a walk. They weren’t on base long, though, as Taylor Wells blasted a three-run home run over the scoreboard in left field to start the inning off in dominant fashion.
“I was just thinking, wow,” Wells said of the shot, her second long ball in two days. “I don’t try to do it; it just goes.”
By inning’s end, all nine Huskies had crossed the plate, some scoring twice, showing that any player at any spot in the lineup can produce.
“Due to this weather, we’ve had a ton of batting practice, which has helped a lot,” King, who finished 3-for-3 with a walk, explained. “Honestly, we’re a team that has a snowball effect. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s bad. We push each other, and we try to do the best not to leave anyone on base. Really it’s just high spirits to keep our hits going.”
In addition to King’s three hits, Amanda Sigley added two hits, including a two-run double, and Shasta Pyles doubled to drive in a run.
North Marion (10-1) won’t have long to celebrate its two victories as the Huskies will turn the focus to No. 2 Ritchie County today at 6 p.m.
After the win against Clay-Battelle, coach Brad Harker gathered his team to explain to them the importance of the game.
The message? Beat someone who is ranked ahead of you and take their spot.
“We’ve just got to come in and be focused and be excited about what we’re doing,” Harker said of the matchup which lies before his team. “Ritchie’s not going to make too many mistakes, and we need to be ready to play.
“I told them to play. To go out and have fun and let it all go but be focused. I think if we do that, we’re going to be fine.”
A win against a top-notch program that the Huskies very well could see in the postseason brings excitement to the players, King said. And they’re ready to accept the challenge.
“They’re going to be a tough one, but we can do anything if we come ready to play,” she said. “Our goal is to move on, and we’d just like to move on with a win.”
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @mattwelch_TWV. Email Mike DeFabo at mdefabo@timeswv .com or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.