High school softball: West shuts down South

Published 3:14 am Wednesday, April 12, 2023



Staff report

LANDIS — Sixteen pitches to Emma Clarke.

Sixteen balls well out of the strike zone.

Four straight walks.

South Rowan’s softball team was determined that Clarke wasn’t going to beat the Raiders on Tuesday— but the other Falcons did.

West won 7-0 in the South Piedmont Conference game on the strength of Arabelle Shulenberger’s one-hitter and a two-run homer by Madelyn VonCanon.

“Emma is going to get walked a lot,” West coach Jimmy Greene said. “Some teams will pitch to her once to see what happens, but very few teams are going to pitch to her late in a ballgame. She understands that and can’t get upset about it and we can’t get upset about it. They’re giving her first base and we have to make that a good thing for us. That gives her a chance to steal and run and it gives our other hitters a chance to drive her in.”

There were positive signs for the surging Falcons, who have won five in a row, including three over county rivals. EA Nance and Riley Haggas are big bats who have been pretty quiet. Namce broke out with three hits on Tuesday, while Haggas had two.

Ashlee Ennis, who has been hot all season, had two more hits. Karsen Simpson had a double and scored.

VonCanon had the biggest swing of the night. Her two-run homer in the fifth made a tense 2-0 game 4-0 and gave Shulenberger some breathing room.

Like West, which had only one strikeout at the plate, South put the ball in play. Shulenberger only struck out four, but she walked zero and she threw a first-pitch strike to most of South’s hitters. The Falcons (10-3-1, 7-2) had a strong game in the field.

“We had really good plays in right field from Taylor Keller,” Greene said. “We had her playing shallow and she fielded a shot on one hop and threw a runner out at first. She also made a shoestring catch on a line drive.”

Greene joked that teammates wrecked Shulenberger’s bid for a no-hitter by verbalizing in the dugout that she had one going. That’s the oldest superstition in baseball and softball. Never talk about a no-hitter. Don’t jinx it Just watch it happen.

“Some of our girls had never heard that you don’t talk about no-hitters in progress,” Greene said with a laugh. “Sure enough, as soon as someone mentioned it, Lexie Ritchie lines a clean hit for South. Well, now they know.”

Ritchie (five innings) and Eva Shue pitched for South. Other than the four free passes to Clarke, they walked only two. The Raiders (10-6, 4-5) made no errors and had a double play, but they couldn’t get any offense going.

“South is very young and will be a handful next year,” Greene said. “They made some nice plays. We had a lot of hard-hit outs.”

East  Rowan (6-1) is still percentage points ahead of West (7-2) and Carson (7-2) in the SPC race. Central Cabarrus is a half-game back of the Mustangs at 6-2.

East has a game left with all three of the other contenders, as does Central Cabarrus. West and Carson have split.

East still has two left with sixth-place Northwest Cabarrus. A doubleheader is planned for April 19.