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Prep softball: Johnson, South roll to sweep of North

By Kasey Hickman

BUFFALO, W.Va. -- Don't tell members of the South Cardinals that Thursday's three-game sweep of the North Bears was meaningless.

The South dominated the scoreboard in three wins over the North at Buffalo High School, winning the first game 8-0, the second 13-1 and the five-inning finale 8-2.

Allyson Johnson of Scott highlighted a two-inning display of dominance for the South in the first game.

Johnson ripped a three-run home run to left field in the bottom of the sixth, a smash that complimented her six homers hit in the home run derby earlier in the day.

"It feels nice to end my high school career with big hits like that," Johnson said.

Set to join the softball program at West Liberty University in the fall, Johnson said she believes the momentum from her senior season will carry over to the college game.

"I plan to make big contributions in college to my team, even as a freshman," she said. "Just as I did here today, making contributions when needed."

Lincoln County center fielder Morgan Hutchison ended the late-inning outburst with an RBI, but the South still had some business to take care of in the field to close out the seventh. There, a tremendous trio of infielders took over.

West Virginia State University-bound pitcher Ali Haynes of St. Albans threw a shutout in Game 1, earning Most Valuable Player honors in the process. She had plenty of defensive help, particularly in closing out the win.

With one out in the seventh and a runner on first, Cabell Midland third baseman Morgan Zerkle snatched a ground ball and snapped a throw to Wayne shortstop Jessica Watts at second base, who immediately tossed it to Midland first baseman Morgan Kelly for a flashy double play.

While impressive, plays like that nothing strange to the three.

Zerkle, Watts and Kelly have played travel ball together for years and all of them will play softball next year at Marshall.

"We've never got to play together in a high school event, but it feels no different. We're used to playing together; it's routine," said Zerkle, who was the runner-up in state Player of the Year voting earlier this month by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

Watts said she was thankful for the opportunity to play in Thursday's series.

"Regardless of how many times I've played with these girls, I'm happy the game didn't get cancelled. I wanted to play in an all-star game like this, especially with this team," she said.

Heavy rains that soaked the Kanawha Valley and much of West Virginia threatened to cancel the event, which was scheduled to begin at 11:45 a.m. with skill competitions. The first game was supposed to begin at 1 p.m., but did not start until more than an hour later.

Zerkle took home the Most Valuable Player award for Game 2 after going 2-for-3 at the plate. She contributed a single, triple and had two RBI in the game, which was won by South Charleston pitcher Alli Burdette.

Jenny Brumfield from Midland put three runs on the board in Game 2 with a bases-clearing double while in the previous inning Sherman's Mackenzie Smith cleared the bases with a two-run homer that nearly went out of the parking lot.

Sissonville's Bekah Baldwin put her skills to work in Game 3, getting the win in the circle and blasting a three-run homer in the process.

In the afternoon's competitions Zerkle took home three awards, winning the 20- and 40-yard dashes as well as the first-to-third run.

The team victories were not the only thing the South team took home. Baldwin left Buffalo with an armful of awards by winning the home run derby with seven, setting an all-time record for the event in the process. She also won the overhand throw competition, underhand throw and accuracy competitions. Marena Cline from Brooke took home the bunting award. 


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