Prep Softball Final Four: Southern Vance 10, East Rowan 1: Mustangs finish season 25-4
By Ryan Bisesi
RALEIGH — The wheels didn’t come off Saturday afternoon for East Rowan.
Just one important knee.
In the third inning, stud pitcher Chelsea White went from standing tall in the circle to huddled over after a fairly pedestrian pitch to Samantha Patrick. A barely audible popping sound followed, but it wasn’t the sound of the ball hitting metal. It was the Mustangs’ season being put on the brink.
After the 10-1 loss to Southern Vance concluded East’s season at 25-4, one could only think what would have been had White not hyperextended her left knee in the third inning, giving the game a vastly different dynamic. White, who hoped to earn a ring on her finger, had to settle for an ice pack on her knee as she concluded her prep career being carried off the field by her father.
“I thought, ‘This really sucks because this is the last time I’m going to be out here,’ ” White said. “I heard it pop and when I got back up, it just gave out.”
White came down awkwardly and turned her knee, the same one she hurt last fall.
The Mustangs took a 1-0 lead into the third before South scored 10 unanswered runs to advance to the 3A championship against D.H. Conley.
Vikings pitcher Jordan Garrett, who was fresh off a no-hitter on Friday night against Shelby Crest, just allowed two against East in a complete-game effort that featured 17 strikeouts and her team-best eighth home run of the season in the fifth that made it 3-1.
“This is her last day playing softball and she’s going to come as hard as she can,” Southern Vance coach Leann Shelton said.
It was a bitter way to end it for East, who won the West Region title for the second-straight year.
“It’s kind of ironic,” East coach Mike Waddell said after the game. “Mallory Drew hurts her leg before the season started and missed the whole year, then at the end Chelsea hurts her leg. We’re snakebit.”
Sydney Poole, just a sophomore, took the ball in just her second pitching appearance of the season in the most desperate time. Quite the conundrum for someone who hadn’t pitched in nearly three months. She struggled in her first inning, throwing a trio of wild pitches that helped the Vikings score twice.
“It was hard coming back into a game without pitching all year, really,” Poole said.
White got six of her seven outs via strikeout and escaped a first-and-third jam in the second with two strikeouts. Poole wasn’t as fortunate with the bases loaded and no one out. Catcher Bobbi Thomas appeared to have caught Harley Owen off the bag at third for what would have been a critical first out. Owen was called safe and appeared to step off the bag and toward the dugout before Shelton, the third base coach, guided her back to the bag, which is ruled an automatic out but the umpiring crew deemed Owen safe after a meeting.
“I was told that the umpire called time,” Waddell said. “Somehow he called time with the ball still not in the circle.”
Poole recovered and got two straight strikeouts, but Patrick singled home a pair of runs as did Garrett one batter later for her third RBI of the game to make it 7-1. Taylor Lawrence and Kaylan Hoyle added run-scoring hits to complete the scoring in the seventh.
East took a 1-0 lead in the first when Ericka Nesbitt reached on an infield error and later scored on an errant throw to third by catcher Megan Hight.
The only Mustang hits came when Heather Trexler collected a bunt single in the fourth and Steffi Sides singled in the seventh.