NPC Softball Tournament: East Rowan 10, West Rowan 0
By Mike London
CHINA GROVE — East Rowan pitcher Chelsea White is no fan of fairy tales.
The Elon-bound senior struck out 15 of the 20 West Rowan hitters she faced and drove in four runs to lead the top-seeded Mustangs to an easy 10-0 win in an NPC tournament semifinal played on Wednesday afternoon.
“I’m really disappointed,” West shortstop Sarah Perrine said. “I thought we were going to pull off a Cinderella story today.”
The glass slipper didn’t fit, mostly because fourth-seeded West couldn’t make any contact. White just blew hitters away, either overpowering them with fastballs or fooling them with riseballs that exploded out of the strike zone.
After Taylor Riley socked a solid double to the base of the left-field fence in the first inning, White buckled down. And once she got serious, East’s outfielders could have leisurely reclined in lawn chairs. White fanned 14 of 15 in one stretch, with the only fair ball coming on a bunt by Perrine that White fielded.
“The riseball was working. Everything was working,” White said.
White is arguably the most dominant fast-pitch softball player the county’s ever seen, and she looks ready to lead the Mustangs (20-1) on another long run in the 3A playoffs.
“We’ve played some challenging games lately (East stopped North Davidson’s 49-game winning streak at a neutral site and rallied from a 4-1 deficit to win on 1A power South Stanly’s field), White said. “It’s made us stronger. Everything is coming around now.”
Offensively, East got something from everyone in the lineup. Leadoff hitter Ericka Nesbitt, had three hits and scored three runs.
Nesbitt and Kayla Kirk got on base in the first inning, and White and Bobbi Thomas knocked them in with groundballs to the right side.
“We got some people on, took advantage of situations and made some things happen for a couple of early runs,” East coach Mike Waddell said. “When you’ve got a lead, it’s a lot easier to play defense and it’s a lot easier to swing the bats.”
White’s RBI single made it 3-0 in the third.
West pitcher Maria Taylor was able to keep her team in the game until the bottom of the fourth. That’s when the Mustangs put together a six-run inning.
Meagan Kluttz walked to start the inning, and a hit by Ally Mills and a nice bunt by Steffi Sides filled the bases with none out.
Jesse Rummage, East’s No. 9 hitter then drilled a hit to right-center to score two.
“People think sometimes because someone hits down in the lower spots they can’t hit, but we can all hit,” Rummage said. “We just needed to start swinging the bats and try to get it done early (by the 10-run rule).”
Nesbitt and White drilled two-run doubles in the big inning, and East may have scored quite a few more had Sydney Poole’s line drive not gone directly to Perrine at shortstop.
“We got some hits at the right time in that one inning,” Waddell said. “You look up, and all of a sudden it’s 9-0 instead of 3-0.”
Up nine, White marched to the circle for the fifth and, got two quick Ks on riseballs and another on a perfectly placed fastball on the hands.
“Chelsea’s riseball is sweet,” Perrine said. “It’s my enemy. We couldn’t hit it.”
It was 10-0, and time to go home, after Kluttz finished off the Falcons in the sixth with an RBI single to left.
East moves into Friday’s 6 p.m. championship at Carson against North Iredell. West Rowan moves on to the 3A playoffs. West coach Elizabeth Clarke expects her team to play at Charlotte Catholic in the first round.