FIREWORKS: Keyser, Frankfort deliver on diamond
KEYSER - Despite the fact that Keyser and Frankfort were in different positions when squaring off on the softball field, both teams delivered fireworks. Keyser just delivered more, including a single season and career record breaking home run performance from Alexa Shoemaker. When the final tally was reached, Keyser defeated Frankfort 14-4 in a shortened five innings.
Differing positions? The season records for each squad tells the tale. Keyser entered the contest on Tuesday red hot and with a record of 9-1. Frankfort, by contrast, entered at 0-3, not only winless, but having played considerably less games.
Watching the game’s first inning, however, you would think the two were on even par. It all started with Rachel Noah from Frankfort leading off the game with an over the fence home run, the first of her career. Noah would lead the charge in a first inning that saw the Falcons score three runs.
“That’s exciting because that’s the first home run of her career. She’s a senior and she’s one of our leaders,” Frankfort coach Duke Lantz stated. “She’s one of the best, most coachable kids you’re going to meet, I’m really ecstatic for her. She’s fast and wiry, but you don’t think of power like that when you think of Rachel.”
Keyser coach Chris Shoemaker agreed, “I know Rachel Noah well, we’ve played travel ball with her. I knew she was a good hitter. I’ve never seen her have that power though, that’s what I told her, that was impressive.”
Despite Frankfort posting a quick three runs in the top of the first inning, Shoemaker wasn’t necessarily concerned, “I knew we were going to score runs. We’ve been averaging a lot of hits and runs, so I wasn’t concerned with three runs in the first.”
As it turned out, Shoemaker would indeed have little room for concern. That message was sent immediately upon Keyser’s first at bat in the bottom of the first inning when Carlie Del Signore hit an inside the park home run. Del Signore was the spark that would see the Lady Tornado score five runs in the first inning to take a 5-3 lead.
From there, Keyser never looked back. The Golden Tornado tacked on three additional runs in the second inning and then six more runs in the third inning to propel themselves to a 14-3 lead. Frankfort would manufacture one more run late, and the game would end after five innings with a 14-4 Keyser advantage.
Shoemaker spoke of his team’s offensive fire power, “It’s been clear through the lineup, our one through nine is hitting the ball, and they’re not hitting dinks. We’ve focused on that since we started, letting the ball get deep and driving it up the middle. We’re not getting cheated on any swings. The girls are doing a great job.”
Offensively, Keyser was led by Alexa Shoemaker with three hits, including two home runs and a double. With those two home runs, Shoemaker broke Keyser High School’s career home run record with her new tally of 14. Alexa also broke her own single season record out from six to eight with still plenty of season left to play.
In addition, Carlie Del Signore, Claire Del Signore, Charity Wolfe and Morgan Pratt each contributed two hits each. Both Del Signore’s added one RBI, Carlie scored three runs and Claire two. Pratt added two RBI’s and scored a run. Lauren Annable had a double and two RBI’s; Averi Everline had one hit and scored a run.
Offensively for Frankfort, Rachel Noah led the way with a home run, two RBI’s and two runs scored. Jaden Rapson, Emma Larue, and Emily Mantheiy each had a hit for the Falcons. Larue added an RBI; Leah White and Marié Perdew each scored a run for Frankfort.
Charity Wolfe got the win in the circle for Keyser. Wolfe went the full five innings, striking out 10, walking two, giving up four runs on four hits. Wolfe seemed undeterred by giving up three first inning runs, pitching strong and with confidence throughout the contest.
“She’s our number one pitcher, she’s a sophomore, and she knows she’s getting the ball in big games like this,” Shoemaker explained. “You couldn’t tell if you came to a game whether she was winning 15-0 or losing 15-0. Either way, she has no emotion, she just throws the ball hard and does what she is supposed to do.”
Frankfort’s Marié Perdew and Emily Mantheiy each pitched for Frankfort in the loss. Perdew gave up seven hits and Mantheiy six. Each gave up seven runs. The Falcons’ 10 fielding errors contributed to the run count.
Despite the loss, Frankfort coach Duke Lantz sees bright spots in his team’s improvement and praises them for their sense of chemistry and teamwork.
“Consistency and confidence, those are the biggest things we need. We have a lot of young kids, and even our juniors are inexperienced,” Lantz explained. “The girls are working hard and doing their best, and I can see improvement. From day one, spending every day with these girls, I can see improvement other people can’t see.”
According to Lantz, “I keep trying to tell them, it’s a process, it’s a daily process, especially with softball and baseball. We lost today, but guess what, we’ve got a game tomorrow, we’ve got a game Thursday, and we’ve got a double-header on Friday. They’re trying hard and that’s all I can ask of them.”
“I noticed something real early with these girls, and they are such a great, great group of girls. I’m not talking about being players, I’m just talking about being kids. They like each other, I don’t have any attitudes or personalities, they all support each other,” Lantz stated.
With a now record of 10-1, Keyser’s Chris Shoemaker certainly likes what he sees from his team. Especially considering that lack of practice time entering the season were concerns of his. The Lady Tornado have quickly erased those concerns.
“I said going into the opening weekend, we had no expectations, just go out there and do your best, gel together, and then hopefully by midseason we’ll be playing well together. But, we’ve just come out hitting the ball from game one and it’s been that way every game we’ve played. I like to say that I was pleasantly surprised, but now, I’m expecting it.”
According to Shoemaker, “We work hard in practice and we’re executing and doing the things we work on in games and it’s making us successful. Like I said, one through nine, there’s no weak spot to fix in the lineup.”
On daughter Alexa Shoemaker’s two home run day and record-breaking performance, Chris stated, “The last two games, she struggled a little bit against Berkeley and Pendleton, just not making adjustments. She was getting hits, but just not driving the ball like we’re used to. So, we worked on that in practice and today, she stayed back. When she stays back and squares the ball up, she’s going to hit it hard.”
Keyser (10-1) and Frankfort (0-4) stay busy with a full slate of upcoming games.