West doubles up Jeeps


Senators win cold SOC II opener 4-2

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



South Webster third baseman Bella Claxon (7) fields a grounder as senior shortstop Bri Claxon (15) plays backup during the Jeeps’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball game at West.

South Webster third baseman Bella Claxon (7) fields a grounder as senior shortstop Bri Claxon (15) plays backup during the Jeeps’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball game at West.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

West sole senior Abi Boland makes contact on this third-inning triple as part of the Senators’ 4-2 Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball victory over South Webster on Monday.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

West junior pitcher Sydney McDermott (25) delivers a pitch to a South Webster batter during Monday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball game at West High School.


Paul Boggs | Daily Times

WEST PORTSMOUTH — In the opening and closing at-bats, the South Webster Jeeps did succeed with a run apiece off Sydney McDermott.

But, in between, “Sydney Strikeouts” was doing just that to the young Jeeps’ offense.

McDermott, the West junior ace pitcher and returning second-team Division III all-Ohioan from a year ago, mowed down the Jeeps batters to the tune of 11 strikeouts with no free passes —spearheading West’s 4-2 triumph over South Webster on Monday in a key early-season Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball bout at The Rock.

That’s correct, with Southern Ohio fuel prices still steeped in another stratosphere —McDermott was throwing gas for free.

Meanwhile, McDermott got a little help from her Senator friends in the third frame —as they scored all four of their runs off South Webster pitcher Bella Claxon, and in a variety of ways.

But with a 4-1 West lead in the final two innings, the Senators didn’t secure the wind-chilled win until McDermott ended those stanzas with strikeouts —giving her 10 and 11 on the day, and 323 for her decorated two-year West career.

In the seventh, the Jeeps closed the gap to 4-2 with a Makayla Raynard two-out double to right field —which scored Ashley Spence, who singled to right with one out.

However, McDermott dealt to tying run Rylee McGraw at the plate —and struck her out to end the game.

While the Jeeps were playing their SOC II and season opener, after Saturday’s Queen of the Hill event at Rock Hill was completely canceled, West was already playing its third tilt —having blanked Piketon and South Point by a combined 31-0 count on Saturday.

For those into counting, McDermott struck 17 batters out on that cold afternoon —and still brought the heat with another 11 two days later.

Both coaches commented on McDermott controlling the contest —and her defense doing the job with no errors.

McDermott faced 26 Jeeps, one shy of the entire lineup thee times through.

“When Sydney finds her groove, she is unstoppable on most occasions. She is a bulldog,” said West coach Dani Coleman. “And two of our team goals is not to have any errors or let them score in any game. We are very diversified defensively in the field, and although Sydney puts them on her back, she is backed by a really good defensive team. These girls know the game. With Abi Boland back behind the plate as our lone senior, she and Sydney are a very cohesive battery.”

“We know that West is a good team near the top of the conference, and we expect ourselves to be there too, but McDermott is a great pitcher and she shut us down in those middle innings,” said SWHS coach Andy Messer. “We knew it was going to be a good close game, but we had a hard time picking her up.”

Picking her up, and already keeping up in the SOC II.

Even though it’s not even April yet, it’s important for both the Senators and Jeeps to stay close with Wheelersburg —the powerful defending division champion whose league and season opener against Waverly on Monday was postponed to Thursday.

South Webster will host the Lady Pirates and ace Andi Jo Howard on Wednesday —while McDermott, the reigning SOC II Pitcher of the Year, is regarded by most observers as the division’s top hurler.

She sure backed that claim up on Monday —after Bri and Bella Claxon singled in the opening inning, with Bri singling to right and stealing second and third before Skylar Zimmerman’s groundout brought her in.

Bella Claxon reached on a two-out infield single, but from there, McDermott retired the next 13 Jeep hitters she saw —including four consecutive strikeouts.

In all, she sat down 15 of 16 Jeeps —until Riley Raynard singled to center to lead off the sixth.

But the Senators erased Raynard as Bri Claxon hit into a 6-5 fielder’s choice, and although Claxon stole second and third for her third and fourth steals, McDermott induced the final two outs with a popout and strikeout.

That set up the seventh, and the back half of a four-of-five out stretch with West leading 4-1—with Bella Claxon grounding out to shortstop and Ava Messer popping out to McDermott.

“When you’re facing a tough pitcher, there’s limited things you can do whenever you have so few outs to go,” said Coach Messer. “That’s where we were at.”

But Bella Claxon kept the Jeeps in front for two at-bats, as Emma Sayre singled for West down the first-base line in the first —but was left stranded at third following three consecutive Senator groundouts.

With out out in the second, Myla Mead and Acie Stone singled back-to-back, but Claxon left those Senators on the corners —combining a 4-6 fielder’s choice and her first strikeout.

But West would dent the scoreboard for two earned and two unearned runs in the third —parlaying five consecutive Senators to reach base with one out, and ultimately chasing Claxon from the pitching circle.

Macie Bradford singled to left, Emily Moore reached on the game’s only error to cross Bradford, Kaylor Pickelsimer reached on an unsuccessful fielder’s choice to score Moore, sole senior Abi Boland belted a triple to center to plate Pickelsimer, and finally Boland raced home on a passed ball.

The damage done to the Jeeps was West winning 4-1, and Zimmerman replacing Claxon —as both Jeeps faced 14 Senators.

Coleman commented on a breakaway third frame.

“We had already seen their pitcher one time around, and they were getting the timing of her down. It’s just a matter of settling in, having some patience, and working the count a little bit better. At the beginning, we were impatient, weren’t working for a good pitch and were instead finding a missed pitch. But usually, the girls settle in and get refocused,” she said. “Things start working out at the plate.”

They did for the Senators —at the Jeeps’ expense.

“Errors will kill you. Yes it was a hard-hit ball, but it was one that we should be fielding to help us get out of the inning. But we didn’t,” said Messer. “That’s the difference in the inning, and it put us in a bad spot.”

Zimmerman went the final three and two-thirds frames for South Webster and didn’t allow a run —despite walking Mead in the third, giving up a triple to deep center to Bradford in the fourth, and surrendering a leadoff single to Pickelsimer in the fifth.

Zimmerman stranded all three of those Senators in scoring position, struck out three, and retired West 1-2-3 without a strikeout in the sixth.

However, with West’s softball field neatly weed-eated around its fences, the true mowing down of batters was left up to McDermott.

Keep in mind the Jeeps are young —with McGraw, Bri Claxon and Hunter Sizemore the only seniors.

“We’re young just like West is. They have a lot of underclassmen like we do. We have five sophomores who start, and we play a very tough schedule for a Division IV school,” said Messer. “I always preach to the girls that there are no days off during softball, so we have to get our heads up and get back at it.”

Which West will do on Wednesday —when it travels to Eastern in the SOC II, and amid what is forecast for much warmer temperatures.

“Abi (Boland) brings the leadership quality, we have some freshmen in the starting lineup, and our sophomores and juniors coming back this year know the game and are gritty,” said Coleman. “This was a really big game to start the league. We knew that South Webster always brings their ‘A’ game, and Andy (Messer) and I go way back and he always prepares them. We played Saturday in cold conditions, we’ve been practicing in cold conditions, and I don’t think the girls think anything of it like they did today. They are ready to play and I am proud of them.”

* * *

South Webster 100 000 1 — 2 5 1

Ports. West 004 000 X —4 7 0

SWHS: Bella Claxon 2 1/3 IP, 4R, 2ER, 5H, 0HB, 0BB, 2K, 14BF; Skylar Zimmerman 3 2/3 IP, 0R, 0ER, 2H, 0HB, 1BB, 3K, 14BF

PWHS: Sydney McDermott 7IP, 2R, 2ER, 5H, 0HB, 0BB, 11K, 26BF

W —Sydney McDermott; L —Bella Claxon

SWHS hitting: Bri Claxon 1-3 RS 4SB, Skylar Zimmerman RBI, Bella Claxon 1-3, Riley Raynard 1-2, Ashley Spence 1-3 RS, Makayla Raynard 1-3 D RBI

PWHS hitting: Emma Sayre 1-4, Myla Mead 1-2 BB, Acie Stone 1-3, Macie Bradford 2-3 T RS, Emily Moore RS, Kaylor Pickelsimer 1-2 RS RBI SB, Abi Boland 1-3 T RS RBI

South Webster third baseman Bella Claxon (7) fields a grounder as senior shortstop Bri Claxon (15) plays backup during the Jeeps’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball game at West.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/03/web1_SW-West-SB-Claxons.jpgSouth Webster third baseman Bella Claxon (7) fields a grounder as senior shortstop Bri Claxon (15) plays backup during the Jeeps’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball game at West. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

West sole senior Abi Boland makes contact on this third-inning triple as part of the Senators’ 4-2 Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball victory over South Webster on Monday.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/03/web1_SW-West-SB-Boland-.jpgWest sole senior Abi Boland makes contact on this third-inning triple as part of the Senators’ 4-2 Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball victory over South Webster on Monday. Paul Boggs | Daily Times

West junior pitcher Sydney McDermott (25) delivers a pitch to a South Webster batter during Monday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball game at West High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/03/web1_SW-West-SB-McDermott-.jpgWest junior pitcher Sydney McDermott (25) delivers a pitch to a South Webster batter during Monday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II softball game at West High School. Paul Boggs | Daily Times
Senators win cold SOC II opener 4-2

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved