Prep Softball: East Rowan 3, Parkwood 0
By Mike London
GRANITE QUARRY ó Freshman pitcher Chelsea White and sophomore catcher Kayla Potts were calm after Saturday’s no-hitter in the second round of the 3A playoffs.
Potts was supposed to fling off her mask, sprint to the circle, lift White toward the sky and jump around after East Rowan’s 3-0 victory over Parkwood. Instead, she balled her fist, casually walked toward the dugout and shed her chest protector. Meanwhile, teammates shook hands with White and patted her back.
“It was Chelsea’s first high school no-hitter, and she really did pitch an awesome game,” a smiling Potts said. “But we were both struggling at the start. My glove was still wet from yesterday’s rain and the ball kept popping out of it.”
White kept the ball popping into Potts’ mitt on a sunny afternoon. White shook off first-inning wildness and two fourth-inning infield miscues and blew away the visiting Rebels. Parkwood (14-10) needed more time to travel to Granite Quarry from Union County than the game took.
White, who pitched a one-hitter against Asheboro in the first round, seemed to be ahead 0-2 on every hitter and struck out 11. She cruised 1-2-3 in five innings and mowed down the last 10 batters in a row.
“It was just a lot of nerves at the start,” the blonde blazer said. “I just had to buckle down some.”
East (19-3) whacked 11 singles and had lots of chances, but runs were hard to come by against Parkwood lefty Kaitlin Stevens. East scratched out one run in the first inning when quick leadoff hitter Ericka Nesbitt got on and moved around on Taylor Arey’s bunt, Haley Barrier’s groundout and a wild pitch.
Nesbitt, East’s shortstop, made a sharp pickup to strand a runner at third and get White out of trouble in the fourth inning.
It was still 1-0 in the fifth, mostly because Potts had lined out hard to right field to end the first and lined out even harder to third base to end the third.
“Kayla had probably the two hardest-hit balls all day,” East coach Mike Waddell said. “If either of those liners finds a hole, we’ve got ourselves a little cushion.”
Potts was thinking the same thing when she came to the plate for the third time in the fifth, with Arey on base.
“I was aggravated because I kept hitting them and they kept catching them,” Potts said. “But, finally, I got one.”
Potts’ two-out single scored Arey, and White finally had a little breathing room at 2-0.
“That hit took away a bunch of the nerves,” White said.
East added a run in the sixth when Kayla Kirk beat out a bunt on a bang-bang play, stole second and scored on Nesbitt’s two-out single.
White, who’s been working overtime on her swing, went 3-for-3 at the plate. Arey had two hits. So did Kirk, who is playing left field with Winter Heno out with a broken collarbone.
Four freshmen ó Kirk, White, Nesbitt and second baseman Mallory Drew ó were in Waddell’s starting lineup, so the senior-less Mustangs’ future is even brighter than the present.
“We played pretty well and Chelsea worked out of the jams she was in,” Waddell said. “She did a good job. Actually, it was a great job. A no-hitter is a great job.”
NOTES: East is probably headed to play defending 3A champion Southwestern Randolph in the next round. SWR also was rained out on Friday. If Reagan upsets SWR on Monday, East will get another home game on Tuesday.
Contact Mike London at 704-797-4259 or email@example.com.