Baldwin leads South's North-South softball sweep
BUFFALO, W.Va. - Sissonville's Bekah Baldwin needed a U-Haul after Thursday's North-South All-Star Classic softball games.
Baldwin's three-run home run powered the South to an 8-2 win over the North in the third and final game to complete a sweep. The South won the first two games 8-0 and 13-1, respectively, at the 21st annual event for graduating seniors.
Baldwin also struck out 10 and surrendered no earned runs in five innings to earn MVP honors. She began the day by winning four of the seven skills competitions, taking the home run derby with seven round-trippers, the overhand and underhand throws at 66 and 60 mph, respectively, and the accuracy throw, tossing nine of 10 balls into a target from 120 feet.
"Whenever I step on the field I try to play the best that I can and I just had a good day,'' smiled Baldwin. "Now I'm going to Michigan to play in a tournament [with my travel team].''
Baldwin's homer came in her final high school at-bat.
"All my hard work paid off,'' she said. "I've been playing and practicing a lot. I got my hitting on track last weekend.''
Baldwin led a young Sissonville squad to the Class AA regional finals after upsetting No. 2 Herbert Hoover in the semifinals. The Indians lost to Wayne, which went on to win its second straight state championship. She has signed with West Virginia State and can't wait to begin the next phase of her career.
"I'm really excited about to see what I can do,'' Baldwin said. "[Just] work hard.''
The South's domination of the North was breathtaking Thursday. The South outscored its counterpart 29-3 and outhit the North 27-12. In addition to Baldwin, Scott's Allyson Johnson homered twice - a three-run shot as a pinch-hitter in the first game and a solo clout in the third game - and Sherman's Mackenzie Smith belted a three-run round-tripper in the second game.
South pitchers allowed only one earned run and struck out 23.
"It's amazing to play with girls like that,'' Baldwin said. "Every batter has the potential to put one over the fence.''
The North tied the third game at 2-all in the top of the third inning on s run-scoring single by Bridgeport's Tori Rovello. The South answered in the bottom of the frame with six runs, punctuated by Baldwin's blast to left field for an 8-2 advantage. Rovello was selected the North's MVP in the final game.
St. Albans' Ali Haynes got the South off to a strong start, firing a three-hit shutout in an 8-0 victory in the opener. Haynes, who also signed with West Virginia State, fanned four and walked one in seven innings and was named MVP. Brooke's Marena Cline, East Fairmont's Kayla Summers and Paden City's Kelsey Loy each singled for the North while University's Jamie Myers was chosen the MVP. Cline also won the bunting contest, scoring 66 points on 10 attempts.
In the second game, Cabell Midland's Morgan Zerkle earned MVP honors after going 2 for 3 with a triple, two runs, three stolen bases and two RBIs as the South clobbered the North 13-1 in a mercy-rule-shortened five innings.
Zerkle, who has signed with Marshall, also captured the 20-yard sprint, which is from home plate to first base, in 2.24 seconds, and the 40-yard sprint, which is from first to third, in 5.19 seconds.
South Charleston's Alli Burdette, who signed with Division I Elon, allowed three hits, one earned run and whiffed nine for the South. Gilmer County's Morgan Allen was the North's MVP after knocking in the lone run.
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.