PETERSBURG - On Tuesday, Keyser traveled to Petersburg for a highly anticipated matchup with the hometown Lady Vikings. In doing so, they faced a team that has won regionals and advanced to Charleston in three of the last four seasons. On top of that, the Lady Tornado would face Petersburg's all-everything pitcher Carly Cooper in the circle.
By Chapin Jewell
PETERSBURG - On Tuesday, Keyser traveled to Petersburg for a highly anticipated matchup with the hometown Lady Vikings. In doing so, they faced a team that has won regionals and advanced to Charleston in three of the last four seasons. On top of that, the Lady Tornado would face Petersburg’s all-everything pitcher Carly Cooper in the circle.
Cooper captained the West Virginia AA All-State team as a freshman. As a sophomore, she earned first team all-state honors as well. Cooper, in her junior campaign, lived up to her billing, as she was nearly perfect in earning the 10-2 victory.
Despite Cooper’s performance, the Lady Tornado held their own, trailing only 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning.
In the bottom of the second inning, Petersburg would get on the board first, scoring two runs to take an early 2-0 lead. Maddy Whetzel led things off with a walk to get on base. Whetzel advanced to third on a double by Maddison Champ and then would score on a wild pitch to give the Vikings a 1-0 lead. Champ would score the Vikings’ second run after Katie Koontz grounded out.
Trailing only 2-0 heading into the bottom of the fifth inning, Keyser coach Craig Rotruck revealed his thoughts at that moment, “We have to find a way to put the ball in play against Cooper. 2-0 in the fifth. We can steal this game if we can just string some hits together. We’ve been getting out of jams the whole game; we have to find a way to score to build some momentum.”
But Petersburg had other plans, and the Lady Vikings tacked on four runs in the fifth inning to go up 6-0.
According to Rotruck, “We knew they were good offensively, but several of their hits only traveled 10-15 feet and we didn’t make the plays defensively, and they did a great job with their plate discipline. Seemed like the bases were loaded every inning but we battled out of those jams several times. It was just a matter of time before they started hitting; our defense let us down in the fifth and six innings.”
The Lady Tornado would get on the board in the top of the sixth inning, scoring two runs to get to within four runs (6-2). hose two runs would come in dramatic fashion, as through five innings, Petersburg pitcher Carly Cooper had thrown a perfect game, allowing no hits and walking nobody.
Keyser freshman Aly Smith broke Cooper’s no-hitter after hitting a hard ground ball to left field for a single. Two pitches later, Keyser sophomore Hailey Massie drove Cooper’s pitch over the right field fence for the home run, also scoring Smith for Keyser’s two runs.
Rotruck describes the highlights of the game for Keyser, “Aly Smith is just a freshman and had sat the entire game, then gave us a really nice at bat to break up a perfect game by Cooper. It was just a matter of time for (Hailey) Massie; she has a long swing but is consistently working to shorten it and has tremendous power. We need her to hit and she came through big with that at bat.”
Petersburg would close out the sixth inning with two more runs of their own to earn the early, 10-2, six inning victory.
Petersburg was led in the circle by Carly Cooper, who went the distance (six innings), striking out 11, walking nobody, and giving up two runs on two hits.
From the plate, the Lady Vikings were led by Mackenzie Weasenforth, who drove in four runs on two singles, and scored two runs of her own. Katie Koontz, Maddison Champ, Carly Cooper, Bryanna Moreland and Madison Whetzel each had two hits for Petersburg, with Champ and Whetzel pounding out two doubles.
Aubrey Smith recorded the loss in the circle for Keyser. Smith struck out two, walked five, and gave up six runs on 10 hits in five innings of work. Alexa Shoemaker gave up four runs on three hits coming in for one inning of relief.
At the plate, Keyser recorded two hits. First came Aly Smith’s singled followed by Hailey Massie’s home run. Smith recorded a run, Massie recorded a run and two RBIs.
Keyser (3-1), next faces Frankfort on the road today in Short Gap at 4 p.m. According to Rotruck, “Frankfort is our in-county rival and a sectional foe as well, so the game is a big one, obviously. We had two very close games with them last year and they only lost one senior. I expect a close game and the team that can minimize their mistakes and put the ball in play will earn the victory.”