SHORT GAP - Frankfort and Keyser squared off in Short Gap Thursday in the first and much anticipated “Battle of Mineral County” between the two.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
SHORT GAP - Frankfort and Keyser squared off in Short Gap Thursday in the first and much anticipated “Battle of Mineral County” between the two.  
Other than similar losses to Petersburg (9-1 for Frankfort, 10-2 for Keyser), the two teams had been otherwise impressive in their other games. Thursday was an opportunity to see which team could gain the early edge on the other in what will be competitive sectional play all season.
From an entertainment perspective, it was certainly a game that didn’t disappointment. It was a game in three stages; first came an early 2-1 and then 3-1 lead for Keyser, second came a Frankfort comeback to take the lead 5-3 and then 6-3, and third was Keyser’s turn at a comeback that fell just short. In the end, the Lady Falcons would claim a dramatic, 6-5 victory at home.
“It’s big for us. I’ve been involved in Frankfort softball, whether through little league or middle school, and now high school for about nine years. I’ve seen this group come together and we’ve never been able to play with Petersburg, and over the last several years, not been able to play with Keyser.  So this is big,” a satisfied Frankfort coach Charlie Kenney said after the game.
Keyser would get base runners on early in their half of the first inning but no runs came across the plate. Lexi Turner started things off with a single, followed next by Carlie Delsignore also with a single. With runners at first and second, Alexa Shoemaker reached on a fielder’s choice, but Turner was out advancing to third.  Aubrey Smith’s grounded out to pitcher Marie Perdew but Delsignore advanced to third and Shoemaker to second. With two runners in scoring position, Courtney Minnick hit a pop up to Perdew to end the side with no runs.
Frankfort’s half of the first inning was uneventful, with a ground out, walk, and two strikeouts closing the first frame out with the team’s held scoreless.  
In the second inning, Keyser would take the early 2-0 lead when the bats came alive. Claire Delsignore started things off with a walk.  Hailey Rotruck grounded out to first but Delsignore was able to reach third as a result. Two batters later, Hailey Massie doubled on a hard ground ball to score Delsignore from third. The speedy Lexi Turner would then bring Massie in from second with a triple on a fly ball to left field. Keyser led 2-0 heading into the bottom of the second.
Frankfort responded in their half of the second inning with a run of their own.  Chloe Kerns got on base with a walk. Makenna Douthitt grounded out to the catcher but Kerns was able to advance to third.  Freshman Erin Clark would drive Kerns home with a single to get the Falcons to within one run (2-1) heading into the third.
The Lady Tornado would tack on another run in the third to extend their lead to 3-1. Freshman Alexa Shoemaker singled on a ground ball to right field. Shoemaker would then steal both second and third base with Courtney Minnick at the plate. Minnick would subsequently hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field to score Shoemaker.
After an uneventful fourth inning and top half of the fifth, Keyser entered the bottom half of the fifth inning still in the lead (3-1).  After the game, Frankfort’s coach Kenney was asked if that was cause for concern.  
“I didn’t sweat it much at 3-1, because we had been getting runners on base and making contact with the ball, so I knew there was going to be some point where we were going to go off, and that’s what happened in the fifth inning.”
Frankfort would explode with four runs in the fifth inning to take a 5-3 lead.  Kaitlyn Crist got things going with a lead off walk. Rachel Noah next grounded out to short but advanced Crist to second base.  Ashley Kenney would then triple on a fly ball to right field to score Crist and cut the Keyser lead to 3-2.  Kenney would score from third on a passed ball to tie the game at 3-3 with one out.
Marie Perdew and Emily Horn would both walk to set the stage for Kylee McGuire. McGuire would double on a hard line-drive to center field, advancing to third base on the throw, but more importantly, scoring Perdew and Horn for the go ahead runs. With McGuire knocking in the two runs, Frankfort secured a 5-3 lead heading into the sixth inning.
The Lady Falcons weren’t done there. In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Frankfort would add another run to their lead to go up 6-3.  With two outs, Ashley Kenney singled on a line drive to center field.  Marie Perdew would then triple to bring Kenney in from first, giving the Falcons a three-run advantage heading into the seventh and final inning.
But Keyser was not done yet. Down by three in the final frame, the Lady Tornado fought back.  Lead off hitter Lexi Turner got on base with a walk.  Carlie Delsignore would single on a ground ball to right field and advance to second on the throw.  In the process, Turner advanced to third.  Two batters later, with at this point one out, Aubrey Smith singled on a line drive to center field, scoring both Turner and Delsignore to get the Tornado to within one run (6-5).  
Down one run with only one out, Courtney Minnick popped out to second baseman Rachel Noah, who then threw the ball to first, recording a double play as the Keyser runner failed to tag up.  This would end the game with Frankfort victorious by a score of 6-5.
After the game, Kenney talked about his team’s victory, “I thought that we stayed with our game plan, but we made some mistakes; there are some things we need to clean up still. We’re young and will get those mistakes fixed; our biggest problems are mental problems because we are so young.  As coaches, we just try to reassure them and keep everybody up; once we get them there, they can do the job.”  
On this day, the young Lady Falcons indeed did their job.  Still, Keyser put up a valiant fight, weathering the storm and mounting a serious comeback attempt in the final inning. One side wins, one side loses, that’s the nature of sports. In terms of effort and entertainment, however, both ends of Mineral County have something to be proud of in their softball programs. This game lived up to, or rather exceeded the buildup.
In the loss, Keyser’s Aubrey Smith went the distance (six innings), striking out four, walking six, and allowing six runs on six hits.  
Keyser was led in hitting by Carlie Delsignore, Lexi Turner, and Hailey Massie, each with two hits apiece. Turner’s two hits included a triple while Massie’s included a double. In addition, Alexa Shoemaker and Aubrey Smith recorded singles for Keyser. Aubrey Smith recorded two RBI’s, with Lexi Turner, Courtney Minnick and Hailey Massie accounting for one RBI each.
On the rubber for Frankfort, the Lady Falcons employed starting pitcher Marie Perdew and Allison Kenney in relief. Perdew went four innings, striking out one, walking one, and giving up three runs on six hits. Kenney worked the final three innings, striking out none, walking three, and giving up two runs on two hits.
At the plate for the Falcons, Allison Kenney finished with two hits, including a triple and a single, and drove in a run while scoring two of her own. Marie Perdew tripled, driving in a run and adding one of her own. Kylee McGuire led the team with two RBI’s coming from her double. Erin Clark singled and drove in a run while Chloe Kerns singled and scored a run.
Asked after the game if he wanted to highlight any individual performances, Kenney insisted that the victory came from a total team effort. “We have 10 varsity players, today it took all 10 to get the win,” was Kenney’s response.
To this point, the young Falcons have been tabbed with the label “up and coming.” Kenney feels this win over a very, very good Keyser program might help to quash that label. “We’ve been described as up and coming, and while at times I feel like maybe we’re still on the fence, today shows that we’re there. They have to put a couple things together, but by the time this group is another year older, we will be a team to beat.  But right now, I think teams needs to watch out for us; I think we are a sleeper.”
This was simply round one of what should be several other rounds to follow. If indeed it was a statement game for the young Falcons, and it was, no doubt Keyser welcomes the coming opportunities to try and reclaim dominance in the rivalry.  One thing is for sure, if game one is any indication, future Frankfort/Keyser games this season absolutely are a must see.
Frankfort (2-1), was next slated to host Mountain Ridge at home on Friday, and travel to Bishop Walsh for a double-header today.  
Keyser (4-2) is scheduled to travel to Spring Mills today for a double-header.