Prep Softball: East Rowan 10, Crest 0, 5 innings
By Ryan Bisesi
RALEIGH — The mound on Field 4 at Walnut Creek Softball Complex felt a bit off to Chelsea White during warmups before East Rowan’s clash with Shelby Crest for the West 3A championship.
If anyone would know, it would be White.
Her familiarity with the mound and and Crest gave the Mustangs another familiar trophy as they clinched the West Region with a 10-0 win against Crest in five innings early Friday night.
After a 15-minute delay at the start of the game with the pitchers circle being five feet too close to the mound, both pitchers settled in with White being the most at home.
White retired the final 13 batters she faced after allowing just one hit and walking one in the opening frame. More importantly, White threw just 64 pitches, keeping her fresh for the marathon stretch that state championship series can be.
“It’s definitely good to save her,” East shortstop Ericka Nesbitt said. “None of these teams are easy down here.”
Things were a bit different from last year’s regional final, where East survived a 1-0 win against the Chargers.
East’s focus never wavered, as it struck first with a run in the first. Ericka Nesbitt lead off with a double and was sacrificed to third by Kayla Kirk and brought home on a sacrifice bunt by White, who did a little bit of everything with a double and three RBIs in addition to scoring on a wild pitch.
“We came down here last year not knowing what this was all about,” Nesbitt said. “This year we knew what we had to do and I knew I had to set the tone for everybody.”
A seven-run top of the fifth put the game away for East and it began with singles from Nesbitt and Kayla Kirk. White doubled them in, with Bobbi Thomas, Allyson Mills and Steffi Sides all driving home runs in the inning.
“We gave them unearned runs there in that inning and from there, it caught fire,” Crest coach Greg Earl said. “East is a good team with senior leadership and I just wish we could have given them a better game.”
The Mustangs went up 3-0 in the fourth, thanks to a two-out throwing error on the infield, allowing Poole to reach second. She scored on Mills’ double and Mills came home after Steffi Sides singled her in.
“When you get to this point, whenever you get some momentum going and put some things together, you’re happy,” East coach Mike Waddell said. “Against this competition, you never expect a 10-run win like this.”
White held No. 3 hitter Dakota Keller, Crest’s leader with 11 home runs, to a walk and a strikeout. Cleanup hitter Victoria Powell had the only hit for Crest with a first-inning single. After that, the Elon signee didn’t allow a baserunner for the remainder of action.
“She’s an excellent pitcher,” Earl added. “We put the ball on the ground and the defense made good plays behind her.”
Crest pitcher sophomore Emily Kale didn’t make it out of the fifth after posting a 1.81 ERA during the regular season and playoffs.
NOTE: Senior Mallory Drew, who suffered a serious leg injury in a car accident before the season, made her her first at-bat of the year in the fifth, coaxing a walk on a full count to rousing ovation. “I was fighting back tears I was so scared,” Drew said. “(Waddell) told me if we get ahead, we’ll have you out there.”