Pirates beat rain, blank Jeeps


Wheelersburg junior pitcher Kaylynn Carter (7)

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

WHEELERSBURG — When Wheelersburg’s Pirates played finally, with narrowly beating an area downpour on Wednesday, the general softball public saw what Wheelersburg can indeed do.

That is run roughshod on their competition —especially in the Southern Ohio Conference Division III.

That’s because the Pirates pitched a 10-0 SOC III shutout of the South Webster Jeeps at Gene Bennett Park, scoring three second-stanza runs and seven fourth-frame runs —as junior right-handed pitcher Kaylynn Carter kicked in a complete-game one-hit, one-walk, eight-strikeout shutout.

The contest was called following the fifth inning with the 10-run mercy rule —just in time before the rain unleashed upon Wheelersburg and Gene Bennett Park.

Now, for the mind-boggling numbers portion of the report.

For the Pirates, the two-time defending Division III state champions, the SOC win was their 138th consecutive —as Wheelersburg’s decade-long and Ohio High School Fastpitch Softball Coaches Association Hall of Fame coach Teresa Ruby has skippered 133 of those in a row.

She still has not lost a league game — since her arrival in Wheelersburg with the 2014 season.

Had the 2020 campaign not get canceled because of the coronavirus threat, those numbers would likely be even higher.

As for this season, the Pirates have only played four games —as of Saturday morning.

They are now 3-1, and 2-0 in the SOC III —as Tuesday’s 8-4 doubling up of non-league and visiting Boyd County (Ky.) was Wheelersburg’s first game since March 25.

For those into counting, that’s two full weeks without a game —in a sport dependent upon playing almost every day in order to gain a rhythm and groove.

The Pirates played and lost 5-3 against visiting Cabell Midland in the season opener on March 23 —as the Knights are indeed a Class AAA powerhouse in West Virginia.

That defeat snapped Wheelersburg’s 56-game win streak, which included last season’s perfect 32-0 mark.

With a 27-1 tally in 2022, and a 32-0 perfection in 2023, the Pirates are now 62-2 —since their loss in the 2021 Division III state semifinals.

The other win was a 22-0 blanking of Minford on March 25, as with Wednesday’s win, Ruby now has 495 for her decorated career.

Speaking of Ruby, for this season, she said the two games in the bag this week sure did feel like starting over.

In addition, Thursday’s SOC III tilt at Waverly was postponed due to rain.

“We’ve only played four games. We went two weeks without playing. It’s been a while. It was like our second ‘first’ of the season. We played yesterday (on Tuesday vs. Boyd County) and we talked about it feeling like our first game again. We still need to work on quality at-bats. We’re still hitting the ball in the air too much. I think that will come with more at-bats and seeing the ball more. It’s just getting in a rhythm,” said Ruby. “I look at the one inning where we had bases loaded and no outs and the top of our order up and we didn’t get anything out of that. That can’t happen. We have to produce at that point. Those are things that we’ll work on and we’ll get better at.”

Because, when Wheelersburg was on at the plate like it was in innings two and four, it will be almost unbeatable yet again.

South Webster sophomore pitcher Jaiden White retired the Pirates 1-2-3 in the first and third, but was touched up for three runs on four straight hits, a Jeep fielding error, and a Mylee Jo Gleim walk in the second.

The only Pirate unearned run came on Gleim’s walk, which was with the bases load — and scored by Carter’s courtesy runner Makenzie Mullens.

Wheelersburg batted around on White in the second, then sent a dozen batters to the dish in the fourth —for seven earned runs on eight hits, another Jeep fielding error, and another Gleim walk.

Wheelersburg senior AndiJo Howard (32)

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

The hitting highlights included a two-run second inning home run by senior AndiJo Howard, a two-run fourth frame homer by Laken Wright, a two-run fourth-inning single by senior Haley Meyers, an fourth-inning RBI-single by Catie Boggs, and a two-run fourth-inning double by senior Rileigh Lang.

Lang, in fact, went a perfect 3-for-3 — while Carter and Wright both went 2-for-3.

Sydney Skiver, the fourth Pirate senior, singled to lead off the second —setting up Howard’s homer.

With Wheelersburg leading 4-0, Ava Estep reached on an infield hit by a bunt — and scored from first when Myers’ single got by a Jeep in the outfield.

Wheelersburg senior catcher Haley Myers

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

Aside from Gleim’s two walks, each Pirate in the lineup landed at least one hit —as Ruby raved in particular about the Pirates’ bottom of the order.

“The second half of our lineup really performed well today. That’s what I think can make this team special. That we don’t have to always depend on the top five hitters. We’ve got nine hitters that can produce any given night,” said the coach. “That’s a good thing.”

For Carter, she had a good thing going against the Jeeps —retiring the first 10 she faced, which featured five strikeouts.

With one out in the fourth, senior Skylar Zimmerman singled for the Jeeps’ first hit and baserunner —as fellow senior Bella Claxon reached on a fielder’s choice, and fellow senior Ashlee Spence drew a walk.

South Webster senior shortstop Skylar Zimmerman (22)

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

Addi Claxon then hit a ground ball to second, and Bella Claxon came around to score an apparent run, but Addi Claxon was ruled out for runner’s interference —thus negating the run and keeping the score 3-0.

The Pirates poured it on in the fourth, before the rain poured down afterwards.

Carter walked Ava Messer to lead off the fifth, but closed the deal with three straight strikeouts to end the game.

“I think Kaylynn did a good job challenging their batters. We try to pitch to contact, and I thought she did a good job of challenging them and the defense behind her was solid,” said Ruby.

Emma Smith at second base had two first-inning assists before the 6-4 fourth-inning fielder’s choice, as the junior standout shortstop Boggs caught two popouts prior.

Wheelersburg junior second baseman Emma Smith (9)

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

The Pirates, keep in mind, graduated just four seniors, but only two of them —first baseman Macee Eaton and centerfielder Kiera Kennard —were starters.

South Webster, with the loss, fell to 8-2 and 2-1 in the SOC III —as its only other setback was early in the season against Division II stronghold Unioto.

South Webster sophomore pitcher Jaiden White (14)

Courtesy of Terry Stevenson of www.burgsports.com

The Jeeps returned their entire roster as they graduated no seniors — and were last year’s Division III Region 11 runners-up to Wheelersburg, as the Pirates won their second straight state championship.

Wheelersburg will play at South Webster at the end of the month, as the Jeeps —along with West and Valley —are seen as the top challengers to the Pirates.

But with Wheelersburg playing like it did on Wednesday when it did in fact play, the Orange and Black will be tough to top.

“We’re not counting South Webster out. He’s (SWHS coach Andy Messer) got a solid team and those girls play well and defensively, they don’t give you anything. We’re not taking them or anybody for granted at all,” said Ruby. “What we always talk about is doing what we do and focus on what we can control. That’s been successful for us.”

* * *

South Webster 000 00 —0 1 2

Wheelersburg 030 7X —10 12 0

SWHS: Jaiden White 4IP, 10R, 9ER, 12H, 0HB, 2BB, 0IBB, 0WP, 1K, 27BF

WHS: Kaylynn Carter 5IP, 0R, 0ER, 1H, 0HB, 2BB, 0IBB, 0WP, 8K, 18BF

W — Kaylynn Carter; L —Jaiden White

HR —AndiJo Howard, Wheelersburg, 2nd inning, one on; Laken Wright, Wheelersburg, 4th inning, one on

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on X @paulboggssports © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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