WEST PORTSMOUTH — On West’s softball Senior Day on Thursday, “Sydney Strikeouts” simply struck.
As in Senator senior pitcher Sydney McDermott striking out Northwest batter after Northwest batter —to the point that perfection pitched its way into the sixth inning.
In the end, the two-time all-Ohio standout McDermott struck out 15 Mohawks —and limited Northwest to a mere sixth-inning walk and seventh-stanza single, as the host Senators shut out Northwest 2-0 in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball makeup matchup at “The Rock”.
While the second meeting between the Route 104 rivals is set for Saturday at Northwest, West’s Senior Day celebrated the decorated McDermott —and Kylie Osborne.
But McDermott, the Valparaiso University signee and Division III first-team all-Ohioan as a sophomore prior to second-team all-state status as a junior, was the clear headliner — as the Senators are one of four SOC II teams which are among the top-five seeds in the upcoming Southeast District Division III tournament.
McDermott drives the proverbial team bus, and she definitely didn’t disappoint on a special West side Senior Day.
In fact, she had a perfect game going into the sixth inning —with West leading 2-0, but the Senators stranding eight of 10 total baserunners at that point and thus keeping things interesting indeed.
With one out, Northwest’s Karleigh South drew a walk off a full count — and stole second when McDermott struck out Northwest sole senior Alyssa Ferguson for her 11th K.
She then struck out her Northwest counterpart, junior Madi Puckett, for her 12th — preserving the no-hitter at least until the seventh.
But with one out against the heart of the Mohawks’ lineup, and her 13th strikeout in the books, McDermott’s bid for that no-hitter was broken up —on a single to centerfield by MollyAnn Runyon.
Runyon stole second as well, but McDermott finished the game just as she began it —with two strikeouts for now one shy of exactly 900 for her career.
That’s correct, she needs only 101 more for an even 1,000 —as keep in mind her freshman season was canceled because of the coronavirus threat.
For those into counting, she now has 62 career wins with 32 shutouts —with nine no-hitters and six perfect games.
As a senior, she has 20 wins, seven shutouts, four no-hitters, three perfect games —and 250 strikeouts.
McDermott didn’t want to lose on Senior Day, “doing the best she could” in approaching each and every pitch.
“It’s definitely bittersweet, seeing the end coming soon, but I just wanted to lay it all out there for all the hard work that I’ve put in and my teammates have put in. Just wanted to give my best performance, and I knew my teammates have my back the whole time,” said McDermott. “I try to execute each pitch, and let my defense do what they can do. It’s definitely good coming out with a win.”
With that win, the Senators raised their stellar record to 21-3 —and to 12-2 in the SOC II for what will be another solid league runner-up.
It was also another nailbiting Senator victory by two runs or less —as West edged Valley 2-1 in that makeup affair on Tuesday.
The Senators’ lone losses are an SOC II sweep to champion and undefeated Wheelersburg (5-1 and 10-4), and a 3-0 non-league shutout against West Virginia powerhouse Lincoln County.
The Mohawks, meanwhile, are now 14-7 and 8-5 —with West on Saturday and Wheelersburg on Monday, both makeup contests taking place in Roy Rogers Country.
On Thursday, Puckett pitched plenty well with Northwest playing good defense —but McDermott muscled for 15 strikeouts, three apiece in fact in each of the final two innings.
She struck out two each in innings one, two, four and five —and added a defensive assist in the fourth.
“Sydney brings her A-game every game, and we just have to hold her down defensively. She always makes sure that means something, and Senior Day today was always in the height of what she wanted to do. She and (catcher) Kate (Rollins) really held us down defensively, and was a spark offensively too. She just digs in, day in and day out, and does her job and does it well,” said West coach Dani Coleman. “She doesn’t really let too many things like that (baserunners in scoring position) bother her. She just knows she has to take it one pitch at a time, and really focus on hitting her spots, which she did beautifully today.”
She faced four Mohawks apiece in the final two innings, as second baseman Emma Sayre and shortstop Emily Moore made one putout and one assist apiece —and Myla Mead caught one flyball in right field.
She said she knew she had the perfect game going, but downplayed thinking seriously about it.
“It’s definitely a different feeling, but you can’t let it get into your head too much,” said McDermott. “You have to play it pitch by pitch. Can’t think about it too much.”
Although, apparently, despite eight hits —West needed McDermott to be near-perfect, as the Senators’ earned runs in the second and third frames came close to not being enough.
In both innings, West got three hits apiece —as Kaylor Pickelsimer doubled to right center to lead off the second, advanced to third on Puckett’s only wild pitch, and scored when McDermott helped her cause with a shallow single to centerfield.
In the third, with one out, Moore doubled to left center, then catcher Kate Rollins singled to center to cross Moore.
But credit Puckett for limiting the damage all throughout —stranding Moore after a two-out walk in the first, Senators on the corners in the second, the bases loaded in the third, runners on first and second in the fourth, and runners on second and third in the sixth.
The other Senator baserunners against Puckett were Macie Bradford after her single in the second, Pickelsimer after her double in the third, McDermott after reaching on an error in the third, Brooklyn Pitts after an infield single in the fourth, Sayre after reaching on an error on a bunt in the fourth, Pitts after singling in the sixth, and Sayre after walking in the sixth.
Puckett faced 30 total Senators, and struck out a fifth (six) of them.
Coleman credited Puckett and the Mohawks for their pitching and defensive efforts.
“Their pitcher had a nice outside pitch that had a lot of spin on it. We just had to have good contacts, been working on being more patient at the plate and looking for better pitches. Our clutch hitters came through early. We have a solid hitting team, and some people just have to step up in those moments and understand that’s their roles. I’m very disappointed that we left 10 runners on, because it’s not like us to do that, but kudos to Northwest’s pitcher and defense too,” said the West coach. “We know what Northwest was and is going to bring. They held it down defensively today and played a great game also. It could have gone either way. For Saturday, we have to go back to the drawing board and just make sure we’re locking in and prepared for every pitch and choosing good pitches to hit.”
For the Mohawks, they needed runners —which they definitely didn’t get against McDermott.
They’ll try again against the all-stater on Saturday.
“She (McDermott) is one of the best pitchers in the state, and it’s hard to win ballgames when you’re striking out 15 times. I thought our defense played well and our pitching was good, but we couldn’t do anything at that plate. We’ll see them in two days at our place, so we’ll see what we can do this second time,” said Northwest coach Chad Hawes. “We played tough with them today and against Wheelersburg, and we have them again in the next four days. Gotta get the bats rolling and see what happens.”
What happened on Thursday was “Sydney Strikeouts” simply struck.
Coleman commented also on Osborne —the other Senator senior besides McDermott.
“Kylie Osborne….just the amount of growth that she has shown over the last three years. She has that mentality like Sydney does,” said the coach. “This is their last go-round, so they are going to make it their best. Both very good leaders for these underclassmen.”
* * *
Northwest 000 000 0 —0 1 3
West 011 000 X —2 8 0
NHS: Madi Puckett 6IP, 2R, 2ER, 0HB, 2BB, 8H, 1WP, 6K, 30BF
WHS: Sydney McDermott 7IP, 0R, 0ER, 0HB, 1BB, 1H, 0WP, 15K, 23BF
W — Sydney McDermott; L — Madi Puckett
Northwest hitting: Karleigh South BB SB, MollyAnn Runyon S SB
West hitting: Emma Sayre BB, Emily Moore 1-3 D RS BB, Kate Rollins 1-3 RBI, Kaylor Pickelsimer 2-3 2D RS, Sydney McDermott 1-3 RBI, Macie Bradford 1-3, Brooklyn Pitts 2-3
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved