PHS, South hook up in sectional

PARKERSBURG -Parkersburg ball-striking has been right on cue. Now the Big Reds softball team needs to make sure all three phases of the game are in sync for the start of its Class AAA, Region I, Section 2 tournament against Parkersburg South.

“We focus a lot on hitting,” PHS coach Ron Perdue said. “This year, with all the weather issues we’ve had to gear our practices toward hitting. We need to make sure we’re three-dimensional with fielding, hitting and pitching.

PHS took advantage of 13 hits in an 8-5 win against Parkersburg South in the first meeting between the two city rivals. Even though PHS took a 6-0 lead, the Patriots closed to within 6-5 before the Big Reds scored two insurance runs in the top of the seventh inning.

South played PHS on even terms through 6 1/2 innings in the second meeting at Jackson Park before Cassidy Newbrough doubled home Brittany Allison all the way from first base for the game-winning run in the bottom of the seventh inning in a 4-3 victory.

“Those two games were great for us, but we can’t win a sectional with what we’ve done in the regular season,” Perdue said. “Jenny Null does a good job coaching those girls. Despite their record, they don’t quit. They pushed us in both games.

“They have speed and really make the infield work. They move you around and use that to their advantage to manufacture runs. They also have some power.”

PHS enters the best-of-3 series having won a school-record 17 games against 11 losses.

Since fast-pitch softball became a recognized sport by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, the Big Reds have never captured a sectional title.

On the flip side, South is seeking to improve upon its 7-21 record.

“We’ve hit the ball well all year, but nothing is guaranteed,” Perdue said. “Our goal from day one is to win a sectional. We jumped out to a one game to nothing last year, but we let it slip away.

“There is a lot of motivation this year. We know we’ve been close since I’ve been here. Now it’s time to finish the deal.”

While Morgan Lanham leads the team in hitting at .500 (39-of-78), Perdue must choose between two legitimate No. 1 starters in Cassidy Newbrough (8-6, 3.11 ERA) and Kelsey Goots (9-4, 2.79 ERA).

“I have confidence in both pitchers – both have had great days,” Perdue said. “Each have a win against South and both are going to pitch in the sectional.”