ELLENBORO - Ritchie County sophomore Kenna DeLancey really wants just one thing and that's to get back to the Class AA state softball tournament with her teammates.
Last spring, the Rebels were one of the final four squads who made it to Vienna, but had to settle for third place after losing 2-1 in eight innings to eventual state runner-up James Monroe.
"We look back on it every day. I just...," DeLancey expressed as she let out a sigh and a deep breath thinking about it. "I need to get back there and I'm out for blood.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Ritchie County sophomore Kenna DeLancey earned all-state honors during her freshman year. DeLancey recorded 118 strikeouts and had a batting average of .602.
"I want to get back there so bad, vengeance. I think about it a lot. We all want to get back to state. We're just trying to get better each game because we are so young. We just need more experience."
Despite only losing two seniors, the Rebels have dealt with several injuries in the early going this year and have had a lot of moving parts.
"We are very, very young," said Rebel assistant coach Albert DeLancey. "We've got seven people starting at new positions they have not played before. It's been a trying year."
DeLancey's second season as a Rebel has gotten off to a good start. She's had a 16 strikeout performance in a tough 2-1 loss to Bridgeport and already has multiple home runs. Last week alone, she belted a two-run bomb at Parkersburg South and then flashed her speed with an inside the park homer at Williamstown.
"We've just got to get clicking better," said DeLancey, who plays second base when she's not pitching. "We have to blend together. We're not used to each other yet.
"We're hitting better every day. That's our main focus. Our defense is pretty solid. We're getting better and I have confidence in my teammates."
Last year as a freshman, DeLancey earned first team all-state honors after going 13-1 with 118 strikeouts in 84 innings pitched. She also hit .602 with six doubles, nine homers, 10 triples and 47 RBIs to go along with 44 stolen bases.
"This one is not quite as easy," quipped father Albert DeLancey of Kenna. "She's more like her dad and she's a little bit bull-headed. Allison (her older sister) could accept positive criticism and this one sometimes gives me the eye rolls, but I'm very proud of her.
"Starting out in the shadow of a four-time all-stater and two-time player of the year and to be able to separate herself her freshman year, I felt that she came out and did well for herself."
Kenna said she is pretty much used to the fact everyone is always going to compare her to Allison, who is attending West Virginia University.
"It is hard because everything I do 'Allison did this so much better than you and why can't you be like Allison' and I mean I'm glad they compare me to Allison. Sometimes it gets annoying," admitted the 10th-grader.
"But, I'm glad that I get compared to her because she was so good. I'm just like all right. I don't know. I like it, though, when people compare me to her, but still, I don't know."
One thing which the talented younger DeLancey does know is she's not a fan of snakes whatsoever. Just ask her about the port-a-potty incident and why she nearly refuses to use one ever again.
"I was like 10 and at my sister's little league game and I had to pee so I went in," she explained of her memory from Smithville. "I literally got in there and got done and I opened the door and there was a 6-foot black snake curled up right in front of the door so I started screaming and slammed the door shut.
"I was sitting there and screaming. My papa finally heard me and they came and killed it. It was bad. I'm scarred for life. I was just so scared."
Knowing that feeling, perhaps she can relate to how opposing hitters might think when she's on the mound or the opposing pitcher when she's at the plate.
Through it all, Kenna DeLancey just tries to be herself and enjoy every moment as it comes.
She's not interested in ever playing the outfield, but noted she might take current senior catcher Abby Burgess' job next year when she's a junior.
"I couldn't play the outfield. I'd just stare off in the sky and look at birds and stuff," DeLancey said. "I couldn't focus that long. I wouldn't know how to do it. I just go with the flow. I just want to have fun all the time.
"I try to take stuff seriously, but sometimes that's not me. Eric, Abby's dad, he calls me a clown and says I can't be serious. I just have to do my own thing and work through it."