Prep softball: Rogers turns tables on St. Albans in 9-0 win
HURRICANE, W.Va. -- Courtney Rogers' introduction to the St. Albans Red Dragons softball program was one the Hurricane sophomore would rather forget.
On Tuesday, the Redskins (14-2) pitcher and her teammates turned the tables on the Kanawha Valley's Class AAA traditional softball kingpin. Rogers gave up three singles, struck out six and shut out fourth-ranked St. Albans (15-2) in a 9-0 rout that lasted just five innings.
"Last year, it was like the total opposite. We knew about last year, and we wanted to come out and do it to them," said Redskins shortstop Cassi Sargent, who doubled, tripled and drove in three runs as part of Hurricane's 12 hits against St. Albans senior starter Ali Haynes.
"That was terrible for us last year. It was our first loss, I think. We kept that in our mind, and we knew we couldn't take them lightly at all," Sargent said.
Class AAA No. 5 Hurricane has had plenty of wins -- three consecutive against St. Albans, including one in the 2012 Mountain State Athletic Conference championship game -- since SA tagged Rogers for 14 hits in a 12-2 win at St. Albans on April 4 of last year. In fact, their recent mastery of the Red Dragons is noteworthy. St. Albans has now gone 12 innings without scoring against Hurricane.
But there was something additional, and unusual, about the way Tuesday's win came together.
"I didn't pitch well," Haynes (15-2) said. "I just didn't, and when you don't pitch well against a team that can hit like them it's going to cost you."
St. Albans Coach Greg Garber said that Haynes' velocity was down, and noted her atypical lack of control as helpful to the Redskins' onslaught.
It didn't take long for Hurricane to jump on Haynes. Madi Casto led off the bottom of the first with a sharp single to center and advanced to second when SA center fielder Briana Pauley mishandled the ball in the outfield. Nicole Pierson followed with a bunt single, and Rogers brought both of them home with a rip down the third-base line.
"Last year she shut us down in the first game, and we really wanted to get back at it quick," Rogers (8-1) said of her team's aggressiveness at the plate in the early innings.
Haynes couldn't escape the inning without further damage. Linzie Reynolds took a 3-1 pitch and smacked it out of the park for a two-run homer, her fourth of the season.
Hurricane put three more runs on the board in the second, when Sargent doubled home Amber Null and Casto. Addie Fullen brought home another run with an infield single -- one of four such base hits by Hurricane on the night.
"We've hit the ball like that a lot of games this year," Hurricane Coach Josh Caldwell said. "We like to come out and be aggressive and work the counts. When we do that, we're going to be tough to beat.
"Against a really good pitcher (12 hits) is a number we like, and Linzie just keeps on killing the ball, as do a lot of our girls."
Garber quickly saw the parallel between Tuesday's game and SA's first meeting with Rogers. Hurricane's Emily Davis beat the Dragons in the MSAC title game last year.
"It reminded me, actually, of last year when we 10-runned them and Courtney at our place, when we played them the first time," Garber said. "When you have a couple little unfortunate hits in there added to a couple blasts and a couple shots from not hitting your locations, it makes for a quick night.
"I thought Courtney was a real good pitcher last year, and I think the same. But last year, we started playing from the first pitch, sort of like we did tonight after we made a play in the fourth inning."
Hurricane had a golden opportunity to end the game in the fourth after Sargent's triple and a double from Fullen made it 9-0. The Redskins loaded the bases with no outs, when Garber instructed the SA outfield to play shallow to guard against a sacrifice fly that would have ended the game.
Emily Davis hit a line drive to left field that was tracked down by SA's Whitney Jones for the first out. Kaylee Wooten, who was serving as courtesy runner for Rogers, forgot to tag at third before breaking to the plate with what would have been the game-clinching run.
Jones fired to shortstop and cutoff Madi Marshall, who relayed the ball to third baseman Alyssa Bonham to double up Wooten. In the excitement, Fullen had passed third base herself, and was easily tripled up at second when Bonham fired to Maddie Chandler to retire the side with a triple play.
Hurricane plays host to Winfield and Cabell Midland in a home doubleheader beginning at 5 p.m. today. St. Albans is off until Thursday, when it plays at Spring Valley.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT