BUFFALO — The North brought with it five or six pitchers on Thursday, four of whom were named to all-state first teams, in the hopes of ending the recent run of dominance established by the South in the North-South All-Star softball series.
But by the end of a long Thursday at Buffalo High School, a trio of arms from the South helped continue the trend.
Poca’s Tori Ward, Point Pleasant’s Karissa Cochran and Logan’s Hana Sedlock combined to toss shutouts in each of the first two games and held on long enough for the South to muster a tie in the third as the South picked up 9-0 and 3-0 wins and a 4-4 tie.
The South has now gone 15-2-1 over the last six years.
Cochran was a Class AAA first-team selection as a utility player and Ward made the second team in Class AA as a utility player. Sedlock was an honorable-mention selection in Class AAA.
Yet facing first-team Class AAA pitchers Sabrina Shroades (Musselman) and Darby Petersen (Ripley) as well as Class AA all-state co-captain Kenna DeLancey (Ritchie County), the South’s trio proved more than up to the task.
“They were consistent,” Lincoln County and South coach Tommy Barrett said. “Considering all, the defense played well behind them too. Karissa had a no-hitter through her first three innings. We gave up two hits in the first game and [three] hits the second game and then they strung a couple together in the last game, but we rebounded and recovered toward the end. It worked out.”
“We talked a little bit about how we really needed to focus because there were only three of us,” Cochran said. “We said, ‘We’ve got to work hard, stay hydrated and just be strong.’”
They were certainly that in extreme heat that was diminished for a brief span in the third game by a thunderstorm that brought hail to the area. Play was stopped in the top of the first inning with the North having already scored two runs (its first two of the day) and threatening for more.
Cochran yielded one more once play resumed to give the North its first lead of the day at 3-0.
The South immediately responded with two runs of its own, with Spring Valley’s Karlee Alderman and Lincoln County’s Sarah Barrett each reaching on walks and scoring on an RBI hit from the Timberwolves’ Haleigh Christopher and an error.
The North added a fourth run in the third inning as DeLancey singled and scored on an RBI hit from Parkersburg’s Bailee Hilling, but the South kept pace in the bottom of the frame as Chapmanville’s Savannah Wiley led off with a single and scored on an RBI double by Sissonville’s Taylor Casto.
The South managed its fourth and tying run in the nick of time in the fifth as Olivia Orcutt-Lazo of South Charleston registered a leadoff single, was sacrificed to second by Barrett and scored when Spring Valley’s Taylor Scott hit a two-out grounder to Shroades at second base that was far enough out of reach to force Shroades to go to the ground, and her throw to first was just off line.
Alderman left with more trophies than she could carry, winning the MVP for the South in the first game and winning two skills competitions, the home-to-first base run and the first base-to-third base run.
She wasn’t able to play the field after undergoing ulnar nerve entrapment surgery just a few weeks ago, but she was a thorn in the North’s side all day at the top of South’s lineup, going 5 for 8 and scoring four runs across the three games.
“It’s great to come out here after my surgery,” Alderman said. “I was kind of nervous, I didn’t know how I’d do, but I’m pleased with my day.”
Her Timberwolves teammate, Haleigh Christopher, also had quite a day, going 3 for 5 with a double and two RBIs in her combined at-bats. Christopher was named the South’s MVP for the third game.
Shroades was the offensive standout for the North, singling and doubling in the second game and adding a double in the third.
Ward struck out 10 over seven innings, Cochran punched out four over six and Sedlock struck out four over five frames for the South.
Parkersburg South’s Megan Bosley had the best success in the circle for the North, tossing the final four frames of the third game and yielding just two runs while striking out two.