By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
It couldn’t have happened the way it did even if No. 6 Ritchie County had drawn it up.
The bases were loaded. There were no outs. And by a swing of bad luck a fly ball was dropped in the outfield as two runs came across to score, propelling the Rebels to a 5-4 win over No. 9 North Marion in the final game of the Diamond Dawg Tournament at North Marion High School Saturday.
“It was great effort. Our centerfielder had to come a long way to get to the ball,” North Marion coach Brad Harker said of the play that ended the game. “She got her glove on it and just fell short. She had a lot of hustle trying to get there.
“You’ve got to get the outs that they give you and we didn’t do that.”
It was fitting that the game would end on a walkoff, the two teams battling it out the entire game, trading runs.
North Marion (10-2) started things off by plating two runs in the first inning after Shelby King singled and was later driven in by an Amanda Sigley groundout. Taylor Wells scored later in the inning on an errant throw.
Ritchie County wouldn’t take long to answer the call, though, as Becca Sullivan knocked a pitch from Chelsi Latocha over the left field fence.
The Huskies would add two more runs in the third, taking a 4-1 lead before Kenna DeLacey took Latocha deep, driving in two in the process, to set up the game’s final inning of play.
A leadoff walk, single and hit batter set the stage for DeLacey once again. This time her hit fell off centerfielder Shasta Pyles’ glove, scoring two runs for the win.
“Ritchie County really knows how to manufacture runs,” Latocha, who pitched all seven innings, said. “They really knew to get on base. It’s really the simple things and anything can wrong in a game that close.”
King finished the game going 2-for-4 while Paige Efaw went 2-for-3 for the Huskies. Chey Steen also added an RBI single while Morgan Clyde drove in a run on a groundout.
The loss provided the Huskies with the chance to play seven innings, though, something they haven’t been able to do much this season due to mercy-rule victories.
“It was a realistic softball game that went seven innings,” Harker said. “Nobody won 11 to nothing. It was two quality teams that played each other today.”
That kind of game, Latocha said, will help the team with some tough games coming up.
“We had a lot of morale,” she said. “Ritchie County is a team we really wanted to beat but our motto is move on. Ritchie County is really getting us ready for the rest of our season. Our schedule is about to pick up.
“And it’s good to see how we match up against teams like that and how we stand in the conference.”
Harker agreed, saying his team can’t dwell on the tough loss for too long as they’ll need to bounce back and look ahead to No. 7 Lincoln on Monday.
“We have to move on like we’ve been saying,” Harker said. “(Lincoln) is another state-ranked, quality opponent that we have on Monday. We have to keep moving along and we have a lot of games coming up to look forward to.”
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.