A day of history for old rivals

PARKERSBURG -It may be a first for the rivalry between Parkersburg High School and Parkersburg South.

Today, the Big Reds and the Patriots will compete against each other in three different sports.

The tennis teams will begin the action with a 4 p.m. match at the Erickson All-Sports Facility. Next up is softball at 5 p.m. at Don Godbey Memorial Park. Finally, at 7 p.m., the baseball teams will square off at Bennett Stump Field.

Here’s a brief look at each contest:

* High School Tennis

Long-term friendships have developed from an early age between Parkersburg and Parkersburg South tennis players, so when one wins defeats the other at the high school level it’s nothing personal.

“You just have to leave it out on the court and not take anything personal,” Big Reds’ No.1 girls tennis player Cassandra Powell said. “Whether you win or lose, you are still friends after the match.”

The Big Reds’ No. 2 singles player in the boys division – Tristram Spitsnaugle- won’t let anything interfere with the bond he has formed since preschool with South’s Grant Tebay.

“I kind of grew up with him – we are best friends,” Spitsnaugle said. “When it’s PHS versus South, it’s almost like playing one of your friends. You always look forward to it because I’ve played tennis against them almost all my life.”

The two schools will meet twice in dual meets during the regular season. Today’s matchup is scheduled for Erickson All-Sports Facility.

In three matches (Brooke, John Marshall and Logan), the Big Reds are unbeaten at both the boys and girls level. Spitsnaugle hasn’t lost a match in singles nor at No. 1 doubles.

South is also unbeaten at 3-0 for both the girls and boys teams.

“With South, you have to remember you are playing high school tennis,” Spitsnaugle said. “You’ve played against your opponent for many years, but you are PHS and he is South, so I have to step this up.”

The projected starting lineup in boys singles for PHS starts with Alexander D’Costa followed by Spitsnaugle, Josh Roberts and Neema Saadevandi. The top three girls singles players are secure with Powell, Sydney Stansberry and Katie Gnegy.

“It’s almost a new girls lineup – only the top three have played before,” PHS coach Pam Reeves said. “We’ve had to play it out for the rest of the positions, plus we have some newbies on the boys side as well.”

* High School Softball

Perhaps no series between the two city schools has been as one-sided as the softball rivalry.

Parkersburg South has dominated its crosstown rival since softball became an official sport in 1981.

PHS coach Ron Perdue has tried to research the history of the series and while the numbers aren’t readily available, he says there is no doubt the number of all-time PHS wins is less than 10.

One of those came last season when the Big Reds took South to the limit in the best-of-three sectional.

This year, thanks to combining a strong senior class with a talented group of freshmen, the Big Reds are off to a 5-3 start and are anxious to see how they match up with the Patriots, who were the Class AAA runners-up in 2012.

The Big Reds have recorded four shutouts in their five wins.

* High School Baseball

On one hand, the Parkersburg-Parkersburg South baseball game will provide the type of atmosphere the two programs will encounter during the postseason.

On the other hand, South coach Matt Null will file this game along with the first 15 or 20 of the regular season under the heading of “learning tool.”

“We’re replacing eight position players and six pitchers, so we are using today’s game as a learning tool about ourselves,” Null said. “This will be our fifth game and we will probably use our fifth different lineup. I told the kids at practice to treat this as a regular season game because we will keep rotating people in and out.”

PHS owns a doubleheader victory against Capital as part of its 2-1 record and begins a loaded week which consists of six games in five days.

“It is for bragging rights, but we also get excited for games within our conference against top 10 teams like Nitro, Cabell Midland and Hurricane,” PHS coach Alan Burns said. “With social media, kids from the two schools know each other and are friends with each other. The intensity is still there, but we try to treat like any other game.

“It’s a big game, but we try not to overplay it.”

South enters the contest at 2-2 with wins over John Marshall and North Marion and losses to North Marion and Wheeling Park. Some of the young players emerging at the varsity level are Dakota Robinson, Alex Simon and last year’s holdover Tyler Berry.

“A majority of our kids started junior varsity last year,” Null said. “We believe in our junior varsity program, but there is a big difference between JV and varsity baseball.”

Null refuses to use inexperience as an excuse. He will send out his best product regardless if its PHS or not.

“I know Parkersburg is older – they have a veteran team,” Null said. “They are athletic and I believe they have some good arms.”