High school softball: West wins at East for SPC crown

Published 6:58 pm Thursday, April 27, 2023

From staff reports

GRANITE QUARRY — At different times in a long, hard softball race it looked like East Rowan or Central Cabarrus or Carson would win the South Piedmont Conference.

But  the last team standing was West Rowan. The Falcons took their last 11 games, starting a winning streak on March 31 and maintaining it throughout the month of April.

West (16-3-1, 12-2) finished a championship charge on Wednesday, surviving 9-7 at East Rowan for an outright league title.

That was fitting, as it was a 7-4 must-win on April 4 at home against the Mustangs that was the turning point in the season.

Jimmy Greene. photo by Wayne Hinshaw, for the Salisbury Post

“Late March and our pitcher (Arabelle Shulenberger) is out and we lose 9-0 at Central Cabarrus and then we get walked off at North Iredell,” West coach Jimmy Greene said. “There were some tough times. But Arabelle got healthy and then this team won a whole lot of must-win games. It’s a really good league and we beat everyone the second time through. We’ve got a lot of seniors and it all came together for us. A couple of days ago, anything was possible, a four-way tie for first was still possible, but Central beat Carson, South Rowan beat East, and everything just went our way.”

While West got one of its bigger wins on Wednesday, it didn’t play one of its crisper games.

East overcame a 2-0 early deficit to tie the game and overcame a 6-2 deficit to tie the game for a second time in the late innings.

West scored the decisive runs in the top of the seventh, and then held off one last rally by East.

“We just weren’t as sharp as we’ve been,” Greene said. “Weren’t sharp in the field, Not errors maybe, but three balls we normally catch fell in. The game was played in a steady drizzle, not wet enough to affect the field, but wet enough to affect throws and pitches and gripping a bat.  I think everyone was getting a little anxious and a little aggravated about how we were playing, but (senior) Karsen Simpson brought us together around the fifth inning. It was like we haven’t played well at all, but if we play together, we can still win,”

Both teams scored two runs in the first inning.

Riley Haggas hit a home run, her first of the season, to give the Falcons a 3-2 lead in the second inning.

Emma Clarke had an RBI in the third as West went up 4-2.

West went up 6-2 in the fourth and appeared to have things under control, but Jordan Dry launched a three-run homer for East in the bottom of the fourth to make it 6-5.

Chloe Shank had a double in the fifth, as East scored to make it 6-all.

Neither team could score in the sixth.

West’s three-run seventh began with an intentional walk to Clarke. Brooke Kennerly singled for her second hit. Madelyn VonCanon’s single scored Clarke and gave the Falcons a 7-6 lead. Simpson hit into a fielder’s choice to score a run and Taylor Keller’s groundout got another run home to make it 9-6.

“We had some productive outs,” Greene said.

Eleni Miller had a hit to get East’s seventh started.

The key defensive play of the game was made in that inning by West center fielder  Ashlee Ennis, who had been hit on a thumb by a pitch in the first inning but stayed in the game.

Ennis almost fell down on a line drive, but got to her feet and made the catch. It was a sacrifice fly, but it was a big out.

“That was a seed,” Greene said. “Ashlee made an amazing catch. She’s made a lot of them this season.”

Shulenberger got a strikeout, her fourth, for the final out of the game.

West broke out the short pants on Wednesday,a throwback tribute to the Falcons who won their second consecutive 3A state championship 20 years ago.

“Still undefeated in the shorts,” Greene said. “Barely.”

East (12-7, 8-5) finished fourth in the SPC, but has a lot of big games left in next week’s conference tournament as well as the state playoffs.The top five SPC teams are certain to be in the playoffs.


SALISBURY — A.L. Brown beat Salisbury 10-4 in a non-conference game on Wednesday that got rather heated.

It was only the second win of the season for the Wonders (2-16).

Avery Bracewell pitched four strong innings and had two hits.

Averi Eberle-McCracken homered and had two RBIs. Shyla Campbell and Kaylee Dunning also had two RBIs.

Katie Peeler struck out 15 for the Hornets (9-11). Allison Peeler and Katie Peeler had doubles.


Campbell Schaen pitched Mooresville to a 5-1 win against Lake Norman in the Greater Metro Conference.

Brooke Piper and Avrelle Harrell had doubles for the Blue Devils.


See photo gallery from West-East game here https://www.salisburypost.com/2023/04/27/photo-gallery-west-claims-spc-softball-title-with-victory-over-east/