Softball ready for spotlight

If you are a fan of high school softball then the Rosemar Softball Complex off of Rosemar Road will be the place to be for the next 48-72 hours (weather permitting).

That’s because the 12 best programs in the Mountain State (or the ones that survived sectional and regional competitions) will meet on the site’s trio of outstanding playing fields to determine the state championships in Class AAA, Class AA and Class A.

Two of three titlists from a year ago – Wayne (26-6) and Buffalo (31-4) – will be back to defending the crowns they wore home in 2012 while Class AAA will see a new team stand atop the victors’ stand as defending champ John Marshall became one of the many teams to be eliminated in regional play.

The two-day tournament, which could move to extra days if bad weather sets in, opens with a bang as Wheeling Park (20-5) takes on Hurricane (30-6) at 9:30 a.m. while 15 minutes later the Bisons of head coach Darrell Moore (31-4) face a Wheeling Central Catholic (21-8) that is the only program to win four titles in a row (1998-2001).

Closing out the opening round of contests at 10 a.m. will be two teams that should be very familiar with facing one another at the Rosemar Complex – Ritchie County (29-2) and Wayne (26-6). The Class AA powers met three times in 2012 with the Pioneers winning two of them, more importantly the final game, to dethrone the Rebels.

The final games of the opening session are slated to begin 30 minutes following the conclusion of the first games. In Class AAA the Ripley Vikings (24-10) of head coach Ray Swisher will begin their quest to return to the top of the classification when they take on Jefferson (20-8) while Class AA will feature James Monroe (23-5) against Petersburg (27-6) and Class A will pit Man (19-5) against Moorefield (25-3).

Not exactly household names to fans in the Mid-Ohio Valley, but state championships aren’t always about supporting your local teams. Sometimes, they are about watching some of the state’s best teams and players perform.

One of those includes Andi Williamson. Name doesn’t ring a bell?

During her high school days she hurled Chapmanville Regional to a state title and along the way captured the Player of the Year award given by the W.Va. Sports Writers Association each spring. After brief stint at the University of Tennessee she made the decision to return to her home state and play at Marshall.

A choice every Thundering Herd fan has to be happy she made, especially after she help lead MU into the NCAA tournament earlier this month.

This year’s 12-team field will have other outstanding individuals that will go on to shine on the collegiate level. Some, like the Rebels and Vikings, feature young squads full of names of players that could make traveling to Rosemar Road an annual event. One thing is for sure. Fans won’t know what they’re missing unless they make the trek to Vienna.