High school softball: West win tightens SPC softball race
Published 3:39 am Wednesday, April 5, 2023
MOUNT ULLA — West Rowan’s softball team beat East Rowan 7-4 on Tuesday.
It was a must-win game for the experienced Falcons if they were going to be contenders. They were cooked if they’d lost this one, but the win lifted them back into the South Piedmont Conference race. It was a massive swing for West, the difference between being just one game off the pace in the loss column or being three games back.
It was the first conference setback for the Mustangs (10-3, 6-1), who had beaten everyone in the league except West (7-3-1, 5-2). East had prevailed in a trio of one-run games against the other top teams in the league — Central Cabarrus, Carson and South Rowan.
“Stacked league,” West coach Jimmy Greene said. “So many good teams, and, yes, I’d put South in that group.”
The SPC race basically is at the halfway point. The league standings: Carson 7-1; East 6-1; Central Cabarrus 6-2; West 5-2; South 3-4; Northwest Cabarrus 2-4; Concord 0-7; Lake Norman Charter 0-8.
All the contenders still have four challenging games left. Carson has won its two games with Lake Norman Charter, while Central has finished with Concord.
West lost early to Carson, which has gotten sensational pitching and power from Lonna Addison all season long. West also was pounded at Central Cabarrus in a game in which the Falcons didn’t have their No. 1 pitcher available and Emma Clarke, one of the nation’s top-rated juniors, went 0-for-3. Clarke may not go 0-for-3 again the rest of the season.
“We’ve had some games where we didn’t play very well as a team, and we’ve had some games where we didn’t hit as well as we needed to,” Greene said. “It’s real easy to get down when things aren’t going your way, but I kept telling the girls to keep their heads up — that it’s a long season. We’ve had some tough losses, but you can’t panic and you can’t get discouraged about what happens in March. We’ve got a whole lot of games left to play — and the really important games are going to be played in May.”
South relies on so many freshmen that it might be a year away from doing big things, but East, West, Carson and Central are capable of making a playoff run this season.
West 7, East 4
The biggest news was West got pitcher Arabelle Shulenberger back.
Shulenberger had not pitched since she worked all 12 innings in the circle in a tie game with Davie on March 23. She returned Tuesday against the Mustangs and allowed four runs during the first three innings, but none in the last four.
“That’s kind of who Arabelle has been for us,” Greene said. “Once she gets loose and once she gets deep in a game she gets better and better.”
Chloe Shank hit a homer in the top of the first for East. It didn’t take Clarke long to answer. After Ashlee Ennis led off the bottom of the first with a hit, Clarke socked a two-run homer.
East took a 4-3 lead with two runs in the third. West’s Madelyn VonCanon hit a two-run homer, her first of the season, to put the Falcons ahead 5-4. That was the biggest swing of the game.
Shulenberger started putting up zeroes, and Brooke Kennerly had a run-scoring double.
Shulenberger walked four, struck out four and survived eight East hits.
Ennis hits in a good place — in front of Clarke. She had two hits and scored three runs. Clarke went 3-for-3 with a triple and made a couple of dazzling plays at shortstop.
“East had a sure hit with runners on base, and Emma just kept going up and up and caught it,” Greene said. “This was the first game in a while where we’ve put pitching, defense and offense together. Hopefully, this one will get us going.”
CHINA GROVE — Carson had an easier time with South Rowan than expected on Tuesday, blasting the Raiders 12-2 in five innings.
Carson scored 10 runs in the first three innings for a 10-1 lead.
Leading 10-2, the Cougars got two in the bottom of the fifth for a 10-run-rule win.
Addison struck out 10, walked one and allowed two hits.
Carson pounded out 15 hits. Emily Kann went 3-for-3 with four RBIs. She had a two-run single and a two-run double.
Holly Stowe had two hits and scored three runs. Laila Furr had two hits. Cora Atwell had two hits and two RBIs.
Addison homered, scored three runs and drove in two. She hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the first after Phoebe Cole got a hit.
Lexie Ritchie and Danica Krieg had RBIs for the Raiders.