The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

May 4, 2014

No. 8 North Marion finishes season on high note

RACHEL — The eighth-ranked North Marion (17-3) softball team had lost to the previous two ranked opponents. That all changed Saturday night in the second game of a doubleheader when the Huskies took down sixth-ranked Liberty (Harrison), 3-0, on Senior Night.

Coming off of a one-hit, 10-0 mercy rule victory over Robert C. Byrd which lasted just 3.0 innings, North Marion pitcher Chelsi Latocha knew she had a rough road if she wanted to have the same success against a team like Liberty.

“I was nervous the second game. I didn’t know if we had it or not. Liberty is a real good team. They’re all good batters,” Latocha admitted. “I just kept pitching and I had to keep in mind that I really wanted this game.”

Latocha would end her final regular season game in the black and silver of North Marion with a complete game shutout, allowing just six hits, striking out one and walking just one batter.

The fourth inning of the game, though, would be a pivotal one.

In the top half of the frame, Liberty’s Chelsea Mcle reached on an error with one out. What happened next would provide enough momentum for the Huskies to take control.

Cheyenne Clayton hit a hard line drive to Paige Efaw at second base who in turn fired it to Amanda Sigley at first to catch Mcle in her tracks and off the bag for the double play to end the inning.

The excitement would carry over into the home half of the inning when Efaw singled to lead things off which Mattie Polling followed up with a walk. After Morgan Clyde moved Efaw to third with a groundout, Chey Steen played her part and brought Efaw home on an RBI groundout to the left side of the infield.

Taking a one-run lead into the fifth inning, the Huskies knew they had to build a brick wall behind Latocha in the circle.

“We all come together out there. When one of us makes a good play it’s like a domino effect. Coach (Brad) Harker tells us to get the outs that they give us,” Clyde said. “We were making routine plays and if they got a hit, they got a hit. We weren’t letting that stop us and get the next out we could.”

For any pitcher, having a defense behind her that she can trust helps to build confidence in the circle. This rang true for Latocha, who got better as the game went on, sitting down eight straight hitters at one point.

“I felt good once we got a run on the board,” Latocha said. “Once we got a run on the board I knew we had to keep our defense up to keep it that way.”

At the dish, Polling went 2-for-2 while Taylor Wells, Efaw and Latocha each added hits.

In the first game, all but two hitters in the starting lineup had hits with Shelby King going 2-for-2 with two RBIs, Latocha going 2-for-3 with an RBI, Wells going 2-for-2 with two RBI - including a solo home run to leadoff the third inning -, Sigley going 2-for-3 with the game-winning RBI, Efaw going 1-for-3 with an RBI, Poling going 1-for-2 with two RBI and Steen going 1-for-2.

For the group of seniors which played its last regular season contest, the success has come full circle.

“It’s meant a lot,” Clyde said. “We’ve really come together. We’ve all played together for more than four years and it’s really helped us. Especially being behind Chelsi because she knows how we play.”

The Huskies now look to Monday when the sectional tournament begins at Rivesville Middle School when they’ll take on East Fairmont in the second game of the night.

“(Getting the win against a ranked opponent) is huge,” Latocha said. “It’s a big confidence booster. We’re ready for East Side.”

“We’re ready to move on,” Clyde added.

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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