As a freshman, East Fairmont’s Alli Mayle failed to hit a home run. A year ago the sophomore launched a school-record nine homers.

Now as a junior, Mayle has already exceeded that number and will continue re-establishing the school record with each home run she hits the rest of the season.

Mayle’s 10th blast of the season gave East an early lead and the Bees never looked back, rolling to a 14-3 victory over cross-town rival West Fairmont Tuesday.

It was the third straight game Mayle homered against West, dating back to last year’s regional semifinal.

“I really don’t think about hitting home runs when I’m batting,” Mayle said. “I just try to hit the ball hard.”

With the win, East clinched its sixth consecutive North Central Athletic Conference championship. The Bees (21-5, 13-0 in the NCAC) can complete a perfect conference season with a win over Morgantown Thursday.

“I’m just glad to be part of a team like this,” Mayle said. “Each year we have big shoes to fill, but new players just step in and get the job done. We work our butts off. We practice really hard. And we give it our all every day.”

For West (15-7, 7-4 in the NCAC), everything that could go wrong did go wrong.

The Polar Bears committed five errors that lead to 11 unearned runs. Starting pitcher Emily Keener failed to make it out of the third inning before freshman Bridget Ford was called upon to close out the game. And West’s hitting was too scattered to produce many runs.

“You know you’re in a bad situation when you’re No. 1 pitcher and No. 1 hitter are both sick,” West head coach Ken Beerbower said. “But we’ve just been flat since we came back from a good showing at Sluggerfest. We managed to beat Elkins playing that way. East is a solid, all-around team, and you have to be ready to play.”

Mayle, who batted second behind Ashley Morris, connected on a two-run homer in the first inning after Morris reached on an error.

Mayle did not see many good pitches to hit after that as she was intentionally walked and hit by a pitch before flying out and grounding out. She finished with three RBI, giving her 41 for the season while boasting a batting average around .500.

“The most impressive thing about Alli is when you combine her natural talent with her work ethic, she’s the complete package as a softball player,” East head coach Chuck Fluharty said. “She’s dialed in with her hitting, and she’s dialed in with her pitching right now.”

On top of hitting her 10th home run, Mayle threw a six-hitter with five strikeouts and two walks. She allowed her first earned run against a NCAC opponent this spring when Elizabeth Hendrixson drove in Jayla Crane with a RBI single in the fifth.

West’s two runs in the seventh were both unearned. After Crane singled, she scored her second run on Stephanie Woods’ RBI infield hit. Hendrixson and Woods each had two hits for the Polar Bears.

The rest of the Bees more than helped out, collecting 12 hits as a team and playing flawless defense behind Mayle.

Kayla Field led the hitting barrage with four singles, four runs scored and one RBI. Nikki Nuzum singled twice and had three RBI while Karissa Baker added two singles, two runs and one RBI in the No. 9 spot. Rachel Filius had a run-scoring single, and Madonna Gribble singled with one RBI to round out the Bees’ offense.

“Sometimes in softball, when it rains it pours. Our girls were really focused, got rolling, and couldn’t stop,” Fluharty said. “We know the Polar Bears are a much better team than that.”

With plenty of games remaining in Mayle’s junior year, it’s scary to even look in the future to see how her senior season will play out.

The way she’s hitting the ball now, opposing pitchers may be better off walking Mayle than offering her a pitch to drive.

“We walked her to load the bases, and we would do it again,” Beerbower said. “When she has her timing down, and you can tell when she’s in the batter’s box, you might as well not pitch to her because she’ll hit it out.

“I haven’t seen a home-run hitter like her in girls’ softball in this state. She’s impressive.”

E-mail Andrew Manzo at dmanzo@timeswv.com.

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