VIENNA - Glenville State College second-year head coach Mandy Sansbury has a sixth sense when it comes to determining the mood of her team during pregame warmups and how the girls will perform that particular day.
The Pioneers are seeded fifth in a field of eight teams for today's West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Tournament slated for a 10 a.m. start at Jackson Park in Vienna.
The first set of games pit No. 2 West Virginia State against No. 7 Alderson-Broaddus and No. 3 Charleston opposing No. 6 Shepherd. Following the conclusion of those two games at noon, No. 1 Fairmont State matches up with No. 8 Wheeling Jesuit and No. 4 West Virginia Wesleyan takes the field against No. 5 Glenville State College.
"I'm anxious for this to get going," Sansbury said. "It's been a tale of two teams here at Glenville State. You never know if our team is going to play fantastic or if they will come out and roll over.
"I think I do my best to get them fired up, but it also comes from within. I can't play for them."
GSC's game-by-game results back up Sansbury's description. During one stretch, the Pioneers won eight in a row and continued that momentum with 16 victories in 18 games. After sweeping a doubleheader from Ohio Valley University on April 13, their record stood at 19-7.
- At Jackson Park, Vienna -
Thursday, May 2
- Game 1: No. 2 West Virginia State vs. No. 7 Alderson-Broaddus, 10 a.m.
- Game 2: No. 3 Charleston vs. No. 6 Shepherd, 10 a.m.
- Game 3: No. 1 Fairmont State vs. No. 8 Wheeling Jesuit, noon
- Game 4: No. 4 West Virginia Wesleyan vs. No. 5 Glenville State, noon
- Game 5: Loser of Game 1 vs. Loser of Game 2, 2 p.m.
- Game 6: Winner of Game 1 vs. Winner of Game 2, 2 p.m.
- Game 7: Loser of Game 3 vs. Loser of Game 4, 4 p.m.
- Game 8: Winner of Game 3 vs. Winner of Game 4, 4 p.m.
Friday, May 3
- Game 9: Loser of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 7, 10 a.m.
- Game 10: Winner of Game 5 vs. Loser of Game 8, 10 a.m.
- Game 11: Winner of Game 6 vs. Winner of Game 8, noon
- Game 12: Winner of Game 9 vs. Winner of Game 10, noon
- Game 13: Loser of Game 11 vs. Winner of Game 12, 2:30 p.m.
Saturday, May 4
- Game 14: Winner of Game 11 vs. Winner of Game 13, 11 a.m.
- Game 15 (if necessary): Rematch of Game 14
The season then went into a downcycle as GSC dropped eight of its final 12 games, which included doubleheader sweeps by Fairmont State and West Virginia State.
Now the Pioneers open tournament action against a West Virginia Wesleyan program loaded with tradition. The Bobcats enter this week's tournament as the four-time defending champion. Their history includes 16 tournament titles and three runner-up finishes since the tournament's inception in 1983.
Game time between GSC (23-15) and West Virginia Wesleyan (29-19) is set for noon. The two programs split a doubleheader on April 6 with the Bobcats taking game one by a 9-0 decision and the Pioneers bouncing back with a 2-1 victory.
"West Virginia Wesleyan is very driven," said Sansbury, who played for the Bobcats during her senior year in college. "Our girls are excited to play them. During our regular season meeting, we proved we can play with them. We don't look at them as a team we can't beat.
"I told my kids, this is a whole new season. Everyone goes in with no wins and no losses."
GSC's opening round foe was an offensive juggernaut and led the league in runs scored. Paige Cummings batted .394 with 58 runs batted in. Kaitlyn Carey and Megan Malenstyn also delivered with runners on base and finished with 41 and 40 RBIs, respectively. Carleigh Hall was among the league leaders in runs scored with 49.
"Paige Cummings is a phenomenal ballplayer - when she puts the ball in play, she hits it hard," Sansbury said. "She is also an amazing shortstop who made great plays against us.
"At the top of their lineup, they have two slappers who we have to keep off the bases."
Offensively, GSC is headlined by Morgan Scarpellini, who batted .298 and slugged .597 during the regular season. She tied Kayleigh Huck with a team-high 33 RBIs. Huck led the Pioneers while batting .341 and also scored 31 runs.
Always a threat to steal for the Pioneers are Carly Caldon and Carlee Charton. Caldon was never caught in 18 steal attempts, while Charton led the club with 24 stolen bases.
On the pitching end, Sam Weaver was the most effective Pioneer with a 2.04 earned-run average and 75 strikeouts. Brittany May produced a club-high nine wins and Jess Fedor figured in on six wins on the mound.
"GSC returns to the WVIAC Tournament after a one-year hiatus.
"In the preseason poll, we were supposed to finish 10th, so I think we shocked a lot of people" Sansbury said. "I wanted to come in here and turn around the program and I think we are headed in the right direction."
W.Va. State vs. Alderson-Broaddus
W.Va. State (35-11) represented one of the most prolific offenses and led the league as six players batted .305 or higher. Sabrina Schouten led the pack hitting .430 to go with a team-high 39 runs scored. She also stole 19 bases - a category also dominated by the Yellow Jackets as five players finished in double figures.
The Yellow Jackets have depth in the pitching rotation, starting with Kelsey Lorraine (15-6, 1.64 ERA, 152 strikeouts) and Sara Pelegreen (12-2, 1.96 ERA, 82 strikeouts).
Alderson-Broaddus (21-22) possesses a balanced attack. Vanessa Bodily led the team with nine homers, while Kristy Kellogg (.376) and Adrienne Daniels (.369) finished 1-2 on the club in batting average.
The Battlers can count one of three pitchers - Hannah Whitney (4-1, 2.12 ERA), Ali Neace (9-9, 2.35 ERA, 97 strikeouts) and Bodily (8-12, 3.18 ERA, 104 strikeouts).
The two programs split a doubleheader April 8 in Philippi.
Charleston vs. Shepherd
What Shepherd (22-26) lacked with its pitching staff, the Rams made up for with their bats. They ranked second in homers and third in batting average. Tayler Schaefer led the team in hitting at .392, while Savannah Snyder and Carly Schmidt each hit seven homers.
Charleston (28-19) ranked in the middle of the pack in both hitting and pitching. Kendal LeFrancois provided the muscle offensively after slugging .634 to go with a .344 batting average. The ace of the Golden Eagles staff was Morgan Aguirre, who posted a 2.29 ERA while finishing with a 14-8 record.
Shepherd outscored Charleston 20-2 while sweeping a doubleheader at home on April 20.
Fairmont State vs. Wheeling Jesuit
Fairmont State (33-10) was impressive while wrapping up its first league title. The Falcons ranked first in both pitching and fielding, and was second in hitting.
Along with Cummings of W.Va. Wesleyan, FSU's Holly Frampton was the most feared hitter in the the league after batting .416, slugging .880 to go with 16 homers and 45 RBIs. Teammate Courtney Iacobacci was another tough out while hitting .420.
There wasn't much dropoff from FSU's Nos. 1 and 2 pitchers - Chelsea Cobb (20-5, 1.44 ERA, 154 strikeouts) and Nikki Nuzum (11-4, 1.53 ERA, 62 strikeouts).
Wheeling Jesuit's pitching artillery of Ashley Nichols (12-13, 3.83 ERA) and Erika Jusko (4-8, 4.50 ERA) was respectable. The Cardinals' offense received plenty of support from Angie Reddick (.302, 6 HRs, .516 SLG).
In a doubleheader in Fairmont on April 13, Wheeling Jesuit (16-24) gave FSU fits before losing by scores of 4-2 and 4-3.