Arabians fall to familiar postseason opponent in semistate finals

Softball in a softball field in California mountains on a white line

By Brady Extin | The Times-Post

GREENWOOD — Saturday brought to close the 2023 softball season for Pendleton Heights, and it came at the hands of a familiar postseason foe.

Led by National Player of the Year and University of Florida commit Keagan Rothrock’s sixth no-hitter of the season, No. 1 Roncalli ended Pendleton Heights’ season for the second straight year with an 8-0 win at Center Grove High School on Saturday night.

Last year’s loss came in the semi state semifinals, and this time the Royals knocked off the Arabians in the championship game. The trip to the Class 4A final four was the Arabians first in school history. They did so in 2001, 2003 and 2005 in class 3A.

Pendleton Heights finished the season at 25-6-1 with Madison County, sectional and regional titles for the second straight season.

Through three innings, junior Shelby Messer matched Rothrock’s no-hit bid, allowing just a second-inning walk.

In the fourth, the Royals threatened, and loaded the bases with just one out. Messer struck out Lauren Marsicek and got Ann Marie Meek to line out to right-center to thwart the jam.

One inning later, though, Roncalli finally broke through. A four-run fifth gave the Royals the lead, and while they would add more, that was all they would need.

A one-out triple by Lyla Blackwell brought in the first run, and then singles by both Emma Fegan and Abbey Hoffman brought in three more.

Another RBI-triple helped fuel a four-run inning once again in the sixth, and with the game under control, Rothrock closed out her no-hitter.

She sent down five of the final six Pendleton Heights batters on strikes.

Sydney Clark and Kylie Fisher were the two lone Arabians to reach base on walks.

In the circle, Messer allowed six runs (four earned), on six hits, two walks and one strikeout over five-plus innings of work.

Eliza Findlay relieved her and allowed two unearned runs on three hits over the final two frames.

To get to Saturday night’s championship game, the Arabians knocked off Mooresville 4-3 earlier in the day on their second straight walk-off win.

To advance out of the regional round, it was senior Bo Shelton with a walk-off grand slam to erase a three-run deficit, and in the semi state semifinals it was another senior, Clark, with a two-out single to drive in the winning run.

Lillian Coffell was the first Arabian to reach base in the seventh on an infield single, and after Shelton was walked, and Katelin Goodwin popped out for the second out of the inning, Clark delivered.

The Arabians scored first with a three-run third inning.

A Gloria Richardson single started the frame. She would come around to score after wild pitches and wild throws by Mooresville.

Shelton brought in the other two runs with a two-run single.

A two-out, two-run double by Mooresville’s Cidney Newman got two of the runs back in the bottom of the fourth, and then in the top of the seventh they brought in the tying run on a Kendall Lowry single.

Messer went the distance for Pendleton Heights and allowed three runs on eight hits, while striking out eight. With the two decisions on the day, she ended her junior season with a record of 13-1.