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Defense wins championships
May 17, 2012 - Jay Bennett
As much as it was a great day to be a Ritchie County Rebel softball fan, the opposite could be said for the other side of the coin about being a Magnolia Blue Eagle supporter.
Each of the past three seasons it has been the Rebels from Ellenboro ending the campaign of the Blue Eagles from New Martinsville and Thursday was no different as Ritchie County eked out a 1-0 victory in a Class AA regional championship game.
At this point in the season, a firm and steadfast defense is key if a team is going to try and win a state title. In the case of Ritchie County, that now means trying to defend the crown head coach Dave Mossor's squad won in 2011.
While Rebel senior right-hander Kelsey Waggoner, who pitched a four-hit shutout, recorded six of her eight strikeouts the first time through the Magnolia lineup, it was defense which led to Ritchie County's victory in the end.
A few weeks back, reigning West Virginia State Player of the Year Allison DeLancey was moved from her catcher spot — now filled by Abby Burgess — to shortstop.
DeLancey flashed her cannon of a right arm in the fourth inning when she fired a dart to Cassidy Ray at first to get Magnolia's Tori Tharp. She also fielded a slow hit ball by Blue Eagle Jordan Babe to start the fifth and gunned it to first just in time. There also was the 1-6-3 double play she turned with Waggoner in the sixth where she rifled the ball to just get Dallas Mullett at first.
Of course, not only did the Rebels get a 9-3 putout from right fielder Vanessa Tallman to end the game, but Ray made some solid plays at first base, too. Another impressive Rebel defensive effort came from third baseman Micah Ray, who had to charge and throw on the run to get Emily Blake on a soft chopper for the first out in the seventh.
I remember watching a Major League Baseball 9-3 putout, but I was a little shocked when Ritchie County pulled it off for the 21st and final out of the game against Magnolia.
However, Cassidy Ray wasn't quite as surprised.
"It wasn't the first one," she said of Tallman getting the outfield assist. "I turned around and I knew it was going to bounce right in front of her. I just knew, that split second, she's got to go on it and I just yelled at her as loud as I could, 'one, one, one' and she got it."
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