West softball eliminated

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 17, 2014

MOUNT ULLA — In the end it was the little things that brought an end to an otherwise stellar season for West Rowan softball.
Fred T. Foard scored an unearned run in the top of the eighth inning then held off a big threat from the Falcons to win 2-1 Friday night. The setback in the second round of the state 3A playoffs ended top seeded West’s season at 18-6 after winning the SPC regular season and tournament championships.
The visiting Tigers from Catawba County improved to 11-12 after knocking off the top two seeds in their pod of the 3A West.
“Mental focus is what lost this game for us,” Falcon coach Jmmy Greene said afterwards. “ Plus we did not hit it here at the end like we have all season.”
A couple of untimely errors, some base running mistakes and the lack of a clutch hit when they needed it led to the West downfall. They also had a tough time solving the off-speed, spinning deliveries of winning pitcher Ricki Kunn. She scattered six Falcon hits and struck out 12, the last one to end the game with the tying and winning runs on base.
“She kept them off stride,” said winning coach Shania Johnson of Kun. “We had a strategy going in and she executed very well with what she was supposed to do.”
West took the early lead in the fourth when junior shortstop Hunter Gibbons cranked her 10th home run of the season deep over the left field fence. Foard tied it in the top of the sixth with a clutch two out triple down the right field line by Michaela White to drive in Erynne Chalk.
The Tigers got a single in the seventh from Emma Luckdoo but could not score then West wasted a Cat Whitley single in the bottom half to send the game to extra innings.
The Tigers started their winning rally in the eighth as Delaney Dellinger reached on an error. She moved to second on a sacrifice bunt then scored when Wilson came through with her second two out hit, a bloop single to right to make it 2-1.
Falcon senior Leah McCoy, who lost her mother earlier this week to cancer, opened the last half of the eighth with a sharp single that got past the left fielder and put her on second. But on the next pitch,pinch runner Tasia Jones was called out for leaving second base too early. It proved costly as Taylor Martin then doubled down the left field line. As expected, Kunn then walked Gibbons intentionally with one out even though she represented the winning run.
“She is a great hitter”, Foard’s Johnson said of Gibbons. “We just weren’t going to let her beat us tonight.”
Despite a double steal to put the winning run at second, the threat and the season ended for West on a popout to short and a strikeout.
“We were in a good position to do some things but just could not come through, Greene said. “But this season has been fantastic. We did some things no one ever expected.”
Defensive star Martin had similar sentiments. “We made a name for ourselves this season when we won the conference and the tournament,” she said. “We have a lot of returning players so we will be ready for next season.”
NOTES: Prior to the game the teams and fans held a moment of silence in memory of Donya McCoy, Leah’s mother who died on Thursday after a long battle with cancer.
Gibbons home run in the fourth, her 10th of the season, is a school record for West Rowan softball. She is a junior who has verbally committed to play college softball for N.C. State.

Foard 000 001 01 — 2
W. Rowan 000 100 00 — 1
Pitching: Kunn W, 6 hits, 1 earned run, 12 K’s, 2 walks. Peyton Greene L (12-3) 7 hits . 1 earned run, 4 K’s 2 walks.
Leading hitters: West- Gibbons 1-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI; Foard – Wilson 2-4, triple, 2 RBI.
LOB: West 6; Foard 7. Errors: West 2 (South, McCoy); Foard 1 (Setzer)