Prep softball: East Rowan 13, North 0

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 8, 2011

By Mike London
SPENCER — East Rowan senior Mallory Drew kept one of the neatest scorebooks in softball history from her wheelchair, and smiled as her teammates rolled on without her.
Drew, who suffered a broken leg in an auto crash that cut short her basketball year and erased her final softball season, plans to beat the timetable of six months that doctors have given her for walking again. Her teammates plan to beat enough people to get her a 3A state championship ring.
East, a 25-3 Final Four team in 2010, got a new season off to an impressive start with a 13-0 victory at North Rowan on Monday afternoon.
“We came out slow, but then we decided to pick it up,” East pitcher Chelsea White said. “We wanted to get the season off to a good start.”
East, which rapped 15 hits and got 15 strikeouts from the Elon-bound White, played as good as it sounds. North (0-1) played better than it sounds.
“It was a lot like our game with North last year when it was 0-0 a long time,” East coach Mike Waddell said. “The score wasn’t indicative of the game. It definitely didn’t feel like a double-digit win.”
Senior shortstop Ericka Nesbitt, who signed with Campbell, banged out four hits for the Mustangs. Three balls were hit on the nose, and she used her wheels to beat out a routine roller to second base.
White and Steffi Sides, who has moved from left field to third base to replace Drew, had three hits each.
“I was surprised at how well I hit today,” White said. “I haven’t been swinging much.”
North pitcher Samantha Jacobs piled up 12 strikeouts. The junior mowed down three All-State honorees — Nesbitt, Kayla Kirk and White — on strikes in the first inning and had a no-hitter with five Ks through two frames.
But a bunt single by Sides ignited a game-changing, five-run third for the Mustangs. East bunched four hits and a walk, and North made four of its six errors in that inning.
“We’ve got a fantastic pitcher and a senior captain (Kristin Harmon) catching who is very good,” North coach Jeff Shuping said. “We just need to be more aggressive at the plate with two strikes and more aggressive charging balls in the outfield.”
The backbreaking play for North was a third-inning wild pitch. Jesse Rummage breezed home from third to make it 2-0, and Nesbitt, who was on second base, came flying home right behind her when Harmon’s throw sailed past Jacobs, who was trying to cover the plate.
“We were able to get them rattled a little bit using our speed,” Waddell said. “That ball trickled about 10 feet from the plate, and we got two runs on it.”
A bloop double by Sides and infield hits by Nesbitt and Kayla Kirk produced two more East runs in the fourth.
Sides and Nesbitt singled home runs in the fifth, and East got ringing doubles from Nesbitt and White as it tacked on four more in the seventh.
White struck out two Cavs in every inning — except the fourth when she fanned three.
White limited North to three hits. The first two were opposite-field singles by Taylor Sells and Jennifer Oakley.
North’s third hit came when Jacobs led off the sixth with a sharp grounder toward left field that Nesbitt chased and got a glove on. The ball changed course, ricocheted to deep left field, and allowed Jacobs to make it to third base.
North still couldn’t score, however. White whiffed the next two hitters, and East got the third out on a rundown after a failed squeeze.
“We made some mistakes today, but we’ve got a lot of potential,” Shuping said. “If we shore up a few things, we can have the best softball team North’s had a in a long time.”
Waddell didn’t argue.
“They helped us out some with errors today, but North is very good,” Waddell said. “When you’ve got a pitcher like they have, you’ve got a chance to do some things.”
NOTES: White looks different, with dark locks replacing the blonde hairdo she’s sported the last three seasons. “I got tired of paying $70 to have it done,” she said with a laugh. … Waddell said Kirk (2-for-4, two runs) had great at-bats. “She really battled with two strikes,” he said. … North can be a playoff team in the YVC, but it’s a strong 1A league with traditional powers Chatham Central, South Stanly and North Moore. … East is shooting for its fourth straight NPC title. … The boxscore is in Scoreboard.